Insider Tips

Northern Belle’s Sales Director Howard Barclay on his Great Train Adventures

Train fan Howard Barclay, sales director for the iconic Northern Belle train, has travelled on some of the world’s most luxurious trains but still thinks British trains and scenery make the grade

Which country have you most enjoyed visiting by rail?

Abroad, it has to be South Africa, where I took a Victoria Falls steam train across the Victoria Falls between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Nearer to home, Wales with the Snowdon mountain railway.

Howard travelled on a Victoria Falls steam train

What’s been your favourite rail journey?

The West Highland lunch trip through Scotland aboard the Northern Belle, where you get to see Loch Lomond, the glens, forests, waterfalls, Ben Nevis and Rannoch Moor, with a nice glass of malt whisky for lunch.  

northern belle
Travel on the Northern Belle to see Loch Lomond

Have you ever travelled by train overnight?

Yes, many times. I took the Venice-Simplon Orient Express through the Alps, the Royal Scotsman through the Cairngorms, the Grand Hibernian across the green fields of Waterford, the Great South Pacific Express through the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, the Eastern and Oriental Express between Singapore and Bangkok and the Red Arrow from Moscow to St Petersburg. Who would want to spend the night in a boring hotel when you could travel on a train?

northern belle
He enjoyed a ride on the Great South Pacific Express

Can you remember your first ever train journey?

Yes, as a kid I took a trip on the Llangollen Heritage Line in Wales.

As a child he travelled on the Llangollen Heritage Line in Wales

Where would you like to travel to by rail?

Wick and the Castle of Mey, at the very northern tip of Scotland between Thurso and John O’Groats.

Which trains would you still like to travel on?

 The Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu in Peru sounds quite something. Named after the explorer who rediscovered the lost Inca citadel, it’s a spectacular train through spectacular scenery to a spectacular destination. One day, too, I’d like to take the Cornish Riviera route from Dawlish and I have this dream of arranging a Northern Belle journey all the way from Wick to Land’s End to raise money for charity.

northern belle
The Belmond Hiram Bingham train in Peru is on Howard’s hit-list

What’s been your best meal on a train?

That’s easy – the time celebrity chef Raymond Blanc cooked dinner on the Northern Belle.

raymond blanc northern belle
He enjoyed a Raymond Blanc dinner on the Northern Belle

What’s the best thing about taking a train journey?

Relaxing on board; meeting new people; reading and watching the ever-changing vista. 

What do you always take with you on a train journey?

My camera, along with a map and a travel guide to whatever country I am in.

%d bloggers like this: