Riding the rails has become one of the great pleasures of luxury travel once again, thanks in part to trains like the luxe (and supremely popular) new Belmond Andean Explorer and the recently refreshed Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Now, this kind of opulently slow travel is returning to the country where it made its first waves nearly 200 years ago with Golden Eagle Luxury Trains’ epic 14-day Best of Britain Steam Tour, the first of its kind for the premier railway operator.
Kicking off in October 2018, the 2,200-mile trip is timed with the 10th anniversary of the Tornado, the first steam locomotive in over 50 years to break 100 mph on British tracks, and one of the most revered in the country (it hauled Prince Charles aboard the Royal Sleeper train back in 2012). The locomotive will haul the 10 carriages of luxe Belmond Royal Scotsman, which can accommodate up to 38 passengers in its plush Edwardian-style staterooms—all of which come complete with en suite bathrooms, a rare luxury in the world of sleeper trains.
The tour begins in Edinburgh before whisking guests out of the city and into the Scottish Highlands, where they will be hosted for the first of their three black-tie dinners at the 14th-century Cawdor Castle. Before heading back to the city for a private tour of Edinburgh Castle, guests will board a vintage train for a whisky tasting at J&G Grant’s Glenfarclas Distillery.
Guests will then head south into Wales for a ride along the rough and rugged Cambrian coast, after which they will head back into England for tours of Bath, Devon, and Cornwall—dining at historic country estates and castles along the way. Before winding their way back up to Edinburgh for a final dinner at the National Railway Museum (where guests will get to see George Stephenson’s Locomotion No. 1, which hauled the world’s first public train in the 1830s), the train will make excursions to Sailsbury, Oxford, and York.
When not sitting in one of the Belmond Royal Scotsman’s top-of-the-line observation cars, taking part in one of the many excursions to castles like the arrestingly beautiful St. Michel’s Mount outside of Penzance, or touring ancient Roman ruins, guests can grab a gin and tonic in the Bar Lounge car and be wined and dined in the dining car while watching the rolling English countryside slip by. For a bit of pampering between stops, guests can also enjoy the Baford Haybarn Spa.
Golden Eagle Luxury Trains’ Tornado 10th-Anniversary Tour of Great Britain (from $40,000 per person) departs from Edinburgh on October 14, 2018, and is currently available for booking.