Even in a country as scenic as Scotland, you might not expect to combine travelling by train with classic views of the Scottish Highlands; the tracks are down in the glens, after all, tracing the lower contours of the steep-sided scenery.
But on the West Highland line, there’s a lot to take in. The scenery along this route is both epic in its breadth and compelling in its imagery.
The trip starts at a very sedate pace in a fairly workaday train carriage from the centre of Glasgow and its bold Victorian buildings.
Then you head along the banks of the gleaming Clyde estuary, up the thickly wooded loch shores of Argyll, across the desolate heathery bogs of Rannoch Moor and deep into the grand natural architecture of the Central Highlands, their dappled birch forests fringing green slopes and mist-enveloped peaks.
You can always get out for a wander, too; some of the stations are so remote that no public road connects them, and at each stop, a handful of deerstalkers, hikers, mountain bikers, photographers or day-trippers might get on or off.
After a couple of hours, the train judders gently into the first of its destinations, Fort William, set at the foot of Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis.
The second leg of the journey is a gradual pull towards the Hebrides. At Glenfinnan, the train glides over an impressive 21-arch viaduct, most famous these days for conveying Harry Potter on the Hogwarts Express.
Viaduct in Glenfinnan © Swen Stroop/Shutterstock
Not long afterwards, the line reaches the coast, where there are snatched glimpses of bumpy islands and silver sands, before you pull into the fishing port of Mallaig, with seagulls screeching overhead in the stiff, salty breeze, and the silhouette of Skye emerging from across the sea.
Train travel doesn't get much better than this.