Offering unusual routes and easy navigation, old railway tracks are ideal for hiking, biking or just a wander in nature.
Some former routes have been restored for use as heritage lines, offering passengers the chance to enjoy the full sensory experience of steam: the smoky scent in the air, the magical chuff-chuff of acceleration and the occasional tuneful whistle.
The Bluebell Railway
Climb aboard splendid steam trains with romantic names such as the Sussex Belle and Golden Arrow running between East Grinstead and Sheffield Park in East Sussex; bluebell-railway.com.
North York Moors Railway
Admire the North York Moors National Park from the steam trains on this not-for-profit, volunteer-led railway, which is fast approaching its 200th birthday – don’t miss Goathland, famous for playing fictitious stations including Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade, as well as a turn in 1990s TV show Heartbeat; nymr.co.uk.
Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways
Indulge in afternoon tea and first-class travel as you steam between Porthmadog and Caernarfon along the world’s oldest narrow gauge railway – the carriages’ windows framing magnificent mountainous views as it passes through Snowdonia; festrail.co.uk.
Turn to page 62 of September's The Simple Things for Ruth Chandler on her love of old railway tracks, or read on for some of her favourite routes.