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Y ou don’t have to catch a flight or even jump on a cruise ship to witness magnificent sights, be pampered in luxury and dine on exquisite cuisine. The iconic Northern Belle offers a sumptuous restaurant-on-the-rails journey that traverses across England and Scotland, passing plump hills, lush green fields and thick forests. As T.S. Elliot once said, “The journey, not the arrival, matters.” Here are five reasons why you need to book a bucket-list journey on board the Northern Belle.

Watch the Northern Belle come to life

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Experience the best of British craftsmanship

The iconic Northern Belle, with its famous hand-painted walnut and caramel-hued train carriages, is a sight to behold as it elegantly glides into pretty Victorian train stations, through breathtaking countryside and into world-class cities. 

The train carriages were restored in 2000 by the Orient Express (now Belmond) to create seven beautiful dining cars. Essex-based marquetry artisans A Dunn & Son worked on the interior of the Northern Belle. A family firm established in 1895, over the decades A Dunn & Son has worked on cruise liners, including the Titanic, Lusitania, The Queen Mary and The Queen Elizabeth, and the Pullman cars of the Orient Express. 

The methods used by A Dunn & Son to create the exquisite marquetry — the art of applying veneer to decorative objects and furniture — date back to the early 18th century. The lavish veneered marquetry of the Northern Bell is inspired by stately homes and castles after which the carriages are named, including Chatsworth in Derbyshire, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire and Warwick Castle in Warwickshire. 

On board the carriages, admire the rich tapestry of inlaid oak, boxwood, yew, sycamore, walnut and rosewood, among other materials; plus bespoke ceiling murals depicting Scottish flora and fauna by artist Chris Shields.

Get dressed up and be pampered

To step on board the extraordinary Northern Belle is a wonderful opportunity to dress up and be pampered. With crisp white linen, bespoke china and gleaming, crystal-cut glassware, the vintage carriages are an ode to the Golden Age of travel. Whether you are celebrating a special occasion such as an anniversary or looking to tick off another bucket-list adventure, travelling on the Northern Belle is a remarkable experience filled with wandering musicians, a magician and gourmet cuisine. 

Clink Champagne flutes with fellow passengers and soak up the stunning scenery as you create lifelong memories, while being pampered by the Northern Belle’s dapper stewards. 

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Sample the best of British cuisine

From comforting autumn dishes to sumptuous winter feasts, head chef Matthew Green whips up gorgeous dishes that delight the senses. Celebrity chefs, including James Martin and Raymond Blanc, also regularly make guest appearances on board. 

Menus are curated by Green and his team using the best seasonal ingredients sourced throughout the British Isles in what the Northern Belle describes as a “cupboard-sized kitchen”. Green, who joined Northern Belle as junior sous chef in 2006 and worked his way up in the kitchen, says on Northern Belle’s website: “I love my job. Every day whilst cooking I look out of the windows [and] see a different view of some beautiful countryside. It may be the rolling hills of the Lake District today, the mountainous Scottish Highlands tomorrow, then next week I’m off to London. That’s my inspiration”.

Sink back into a luxurious winged armchair and opt for traditional afternoon tea featuring exquisite sandwiches, cakes, pastries and scones, or savour an epic seven-course lunch finished with a Great British cheese board. 

Travel to two capital cities

From historic London to Edinburgh’s Old Town, travel the breadth of the country to capture the magic of both England and Scotland’s capital cities. Indulge in Michelin-starred restaurants, glitzy West End shows and visit famous sights such as St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye and Natural History Museum, before embarking on the journey of a lifetime to Edinburgh. 

Walk the Royal Mile, take in Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the iconic Royal Yacht Britannia, before sampling the best of Scottish cuisine and the country’s famed spirit at the Scotch Whisky Experience. 

Pack your plastic, because both cities also offer a wealth of shopping opportunities from the designer boutiques of Mayfair in London to Edinburgh’s St James Quarter and best souvenir shops on the Royal Mile.

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Witness awe-inspiring countryside

Gaze through the large picture windows as the restored 1930s train hurtles through valleys, towards soaring snow-capped mountains, visiting ancient castles, stately homes and picturesque towns. From bucolic English countryside to crossing the border to glassy lochs in the Scottish Highlands, travelling on the Northern Belle is one of the best ways of capturing some of the UK’s most remarkable landscapes. 

Join the train to visit the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bath. Enjoy a Champagne reception and delicate canapes as you meander through the Midlands to the north, before exploring the stunning Lake District from the hamlet of Oxenholme. In Scotland, discover medieval corners of the Highlands, enjoying a Scottish safari through heather-covered heaths, where wild deers, grouse and other wildlife roam.