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Great rail journeys: UK’s West Coast Main Line

Travel from London to Edinburgh by train and watch the view change dramatically; transforming from gentle hills, country lanes and cottages of England, into the romantic wilderness of the Scottish mountains in just a few hours.

To make sure you don’t miss out on some of the best bits of Britain, here are the top recommendations along the way from global travellers.*

Pick up a bargain in London before you board

Pick up a bargain in London before you board

Shopping, London

Shopping in London is arguably the best in the world. If you’re a shopper on a mission head to the mammoth flagship stores on Oxford Street before you hop on the train. If you’re after a more slow-paced spree with a friend, wander Marylebone High Street’s designer boutiques, pop up stores, and upmarket delis.

London’s vintage shops are brilliant and everywhere - Rokit and Beyond Retro are the city centre’s treasure troves - but for ravenous bargain hunters, head to the charity shops in affluent areas like Kensington or Chelsea. Stay at the grand, and conveniently-located Zetter Townhouse Marylebone before you set off on the train.

Enjoy craft beers in a local Rugby pubs

Enjoy craft beers in a local Rugby pubs

Pub hopping, Rugby

Rugby town has been famous ever since running with the ball at Rugby School evolved into a nationwide sport in the 19th century. This global reputation may not yet extend to its pubs but this historic market town has a stellar selection.

Rugby’s Ale houses have a huge range on tap, which may be daunting but knowledgeable and friendly staff will help you out. Try popular pubs The Merchant’s Inn, with a log fire and jolly atmosphere and the Barley Mow, a canalside pub on the outskirts of the town. After a night of pub hopping, stay at the Golden Lion Hotel, a friendly, family-run hotel and 16th-century inn just outside Rugby.

The bucolic Lancashire landscape

The bucolic Lancashire landscape

History, Lancaster

Lancaster has a historical legacy that stretches back to the Roman era, with a permanent Roman fort existing on the hill where Lancaster Castle now stands. But the town also played a significant role in Britain’s 15th-century War of the Roses as one of the two dynasties fighting for the throne (the House of Lancaster bore the symbol of the red rose and the House of York, the white).

Visit the Lune Aqueduct, a magnificent 18th-century stone aqueduct on the east side of the city, the Catholic Cathedral, and the Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park, a grand folly built by millionaire industrialist Lord Ashton in memory of his wife 1907. For an overnight stop, stay at the top-rated, heavenly retreat of Greenbank Farmhouse.

Carlisle Cathedral in the late afternoon sun

Carlisle Cathedral in the late afternoon sun

Castles, Carlisle

Carlisle Castle is a serious-looking fortress. Over 900-years old, this sturdy castle has withstood a multitude of sieges, contained Mary Queen of Scots as a prisoner in 1567, and today serves as military headquarters to a Royal Regiment.

It’s also supposedly one of Britain’s most haunted castles, with chilling stories of a female ghost who was thought to have been roused when her skeleton was uncovered during construction work in the 1830s. Stay overnight at Cornerways Guest House, just 5-minutes’ walk from Carlisle city centre and Carlisle Rail and Coach stations.

This historic, hilly city has some breath-taking views and sights to see

This historic, hilly city has some breath-taking views and sights to see

Sightseeing, Edinburgh

The final stop on the journey, there’s a lot to see in the historic, Scottish capital. First up, climb Arthur’s Seat, a volcanic peak in the middle of the city where you’ll get an unparalleled panorama of the city. From here, you can map out what you’ll visit and when. Holyrood Palace and its extensive gardens? The moody, ancient Edinburgh Castle? Or the Royal Yacht Britannia, on which Prince Charles and Princess Diana honeymooned, now anchored at the Leith Docks? A stay at the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian is a very special way to end your trip, with unobstructed views of Edinburgh Castle from bedroom windows.

**Destinations featured were chosen as a selection of all the major destinations along the UK West Coast Main Line railway route. Then the most popular feature of each city was calculated using internal endorsement data.