Travel Review - Orient Express Northern Belle Manchester Victoria to Carnforth
PUBLISHED: 23:48 09 August 2012 | UPDATED: 21:43 20 February 2013
Combine the romance of the vintage train era, stunning scenery and fine food and the result is a memorable and lavish excursion WORDS BY DAVID RICHARDS
Can you recall the last time you sat on a train for over four hours and were delighted to do so? That was my experience while onboard the Orient Expresss Northern Belle round-trip service from Manchester Victoria to Carnforth in Lancashire.
Based at Crewe, The Northern Belle is keeping alive the oft-romanticised golden age of rail travel. Departing from 65 towns and cities including Manchester, Liverpool and Chester, the service offers many varied routes including trips to sporting events, stately homes and historic cities.
As youd expect from a train bearing the fantastically romantic Orient Express name, the notion behind the service is, its better to travel than to arrive. The service aims to offer a combination of fine food and drink served in luxury at your private table by excellent staff.
The journey I embarked upon took me through the spectacular Lancashire and Cumbrian countryside to Carnforth, the station seen in David Leans Brief Encounter film. As well as featuring memorabilia in homage to the classic romance flick, the station and its beautifully
restored platform and buildings are themselves a nod to the luxury of bygone rail travel. A pianist tickling the ivories in the old-fashioned snack bar completes the sepia-toned experience.
However, the star of this show is the journey itself. Shuttling through the English countryside you enjoy silver-service fine dining in one of seven luxuriously appointed carriages, each having a distinct style and named after a British stately home. The food is very good and copious in the number of courses. The wine and drinks list is extensive and impressive. I dont recall the last time I was able to drink champagne and a very good single-malt on a rail journey!
There really is something to be said for lingering over a good meal in a way that is rare at most restaurants nowadays. Add wonderful surroundings, thoroughly enjoyable at-table entertainment from musicians and magicians, the professional but convivial waiting staff and you have a perfect combination to make any occasion extra special, whether it be a romantic trip for two or a larger group celebration. The Northern Belle experience proves it is, indeed, better to travel.
Orient-Expresss luxurious Northern Belle train departs throughout the year from over 60 regional stations across the UK, offering a host of journeys to some of Britains most famous historic cities, castles, country houses and sporting events.
Prices start from 195 per person, for more information and reservations call Orient-Express on 0845 077 2222 or visit www.orient-express.com/uktrains