The UK has a rich history with railways and has been the birthplace of some of the most iconic steam trains ever to grace the rails.

While nowadays some people regard the train network as being overcrowded, unreliable and unpleasant the UK is still home to a host of idyllic and picturesque routes,  which are recognised throughout the world. Although many steam train excursions are only rolled out on special occasions, the average commute or day out can still throw up some spectacular views.

Here is a selection of the best railway lines the UK has to offer.

Newcastle to Edinburgh

Forming part of the east coast main line, the route connects two major cities in northern England and eastern Scotland. North of Alnwick, people can sit back and enjoy the great countryside along the Northumbrian coast.

The crowning glory of the route is the Royal Border Bridge which crosses the River Tweed and forms the entrance to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Fort William to Mallaig

Without doubt one of the most magnificent railway lines in the UK, if not the world. The route snakes through the Scottish Highlands sweeping over Rannoch moor. It passes over the Glenfinnan viaduct which some people may recognise as the same line that Harry Potter took to reach Hogwarts.

People can book a place on The Jacobite tourist train to see the sights for themselves. Trains run daily between May and October, while a weekend service is also put on between June and September.

A line that is sure to be a favourite with families, steam train enthusiasts and tourists.

Settle to Carlisle

Winding through the Yorkshire Dales and north Pennines the line offers fantastic views at any time of the year, especially on a crisp winter's morning. Passing over huge stone viaducts, through long tunnels and remote wayside station buildings it transports people back a Victorian era and not just their final destination.

The line was originally built by over 6,000 navvies and is promoted by the Settle Carlisle Partnership.

Manchester to Leeds

While not the first route to spring to mind, this Transpennine Express link brings together two major north-west cities. Passing through the likes of Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Stalybridge passengers can take in the majestic countryside of the Pennines.

Despite it being one of the busier routes on the Network Rail and although it can be associated with the evening rush hour, it is one of the most rewarding to travel on.

Exeter to Paignton

The south-west of England offers some breathtaking scenery and also boasts a number of scenic railway routes. It is home to the idyllic St Erth to St Ives route, which passes by beaches and seafront homes, but the Exeter to Paignton is a sight to behold.

Dubbed as the Riviera Line it is popular for people heading to the holiday resorts of Cornwall and the line connects the county with neighbour Devon.

It flanks the Devonshire coastline calling at seaside towns such as Dawlish and Teignmouth before snaking its way through a number of villages and stopping at Paignton.