Britain’s best railway bridges and viaducts

All aboard! Prepare to embark on a playful expedition through Britain’s quirkiest railway bridges and most magnificent viaducts.

From the breathtaking beauty of the Scottish Highlands to the urban hustle of the UK’s busy cities, join us on this marvellous exploration of the British iron and stone wonders.

Forth Bridge – Scotland

Forth Bridge in ScotlandOpening in 1980 and connecting Fife and Edinburgh, Forth Bridge has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2015. With its iconic industrial style and deep red colour (requiring 240,000 litres of paint!), Forth Bridge has become a key symbol of Scotland’s heritage.

Carrying up to 200 trains per day from Aberdeen to Edinburgh, this splendid railway bridge is the world’s first major steel structure and even holds the record as the world’s longest cantilever bridge at 2.4km.

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Bennerley Viaduct – England

Bennerley ViaductAn iconic landmark in the East Midland’s countryside, Bennerley Viaduct is a former railway bridge located between Ilkeston in Derbyshire and Awsworth in Nottinghamshire. After closing in the 1960s, the viaduct became derelict and disused for over six decades.

Reopening in 2022 as a foot and cycle bridge, Bennerley Viaduct has been given a new lease of life with visitor facilities planned in the coming years to further inspire pride in the local community.

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Glenfinnan Viaduct – Scotland

Glenfinnan Railway ViaductSituated in the stunning Scottish Highlands, Glenfinnan Viaduct is a masterpiece of railway engineering. But this is not just a splendid viaduct for bridge enthusiasts to admire. Glenfinnan Viaduct is an iconic location from the Harry Potter franchise where the Hogwarts Express crosses on its way to the wizarding school.

With over 500,000 Potter fans visiting the magical landmark each year, you can even catch the Jacobite Steam Train passing over the incredible 21-arched viaduct at 10.45am and 3.15pm each day. So don’t forget to plan your trip ahead!

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Thornton Viaduct – England

Thornton ViaductThis 20-arch disused railway bridge in Thornton, West Yorkshire is a truly spectacular Grade II listing structure. Opening in 1978, the Thornton Viaduct is a 270m-long arched bridge sitting over 100 feet high.

Designed in a unique S-shape to allow smooth access to Thornton station, the viaduct stopped carrying passengers in 1955 and closed in the 1960s. However, since 2008, Thorton Viaduct has become part of the Great Northern Railway Trail – a picturesque circular Yorkshire walking route.

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Barmouth Bridge – Wales

Barmouth Bridge in WalesBarmouth Bridge, (also known as Barmouth Viaduct) is a Grade II listed single-track wooden railway viaduct located in Barmouth on Wales’ western coastline. Crossing the estuary of the River Mawddach, Barmouth Bridge is a 700m-long railway bridge carrying the Cambrian Line.

As one of the oldest bridges in Britain still in regular use,  Barmouth Bridge is actually the longest timber viaduct in Wales.

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Are you a bridge enthusiast? Click here to check out our recent blog and discover 18 of Britain’s most famous bridges.

The Royal Albert Bridge – England

The Royal Albert BridgeThe Royal Albert Bridge is a unique railway bridge consisting of two 455-foot-long iron trusses suspended 100 feet above the water. Opened by Prince Albert in 1859, the designer and engineer of this engineering accomplishment, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, has his own name inscribed on both ends of the bridge.

Want to admire this splendid piece of English railway engineering properly? We recommend jumping on the Royal Duchy Steam Train and dining in style as you marvel at this southern bridge!

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Ribblehead Viaduct – England

Ribblehead ViaductThe Ribblehead Viaduct or ‘Batty Moss Viaduct’ is a gorgeous Grade II listed structure arched viaduct in North Yorkshire. Carrying the Settle-Carlisle railway across Batty Moss in the Ribble Valley, the Ribblehead Viaduct was a famous milestone in Victorian engineering.

Unfortunately, while being a triumph of industrial engineering, the construction of the Ribblehead Viaduct proved a dangerous challenge. Over 100 men died during the construction due to accidents, fights and an outbreak of smallpox.

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Cwm Prysor Viaduct – Wales

Cwm Prysor ViaductDeep in the remote uplands of Gwynedd, Snowdonia sits the nine-arched railway viaduct of Cwm Prysor. Crossing the Afon Prysor, the Cwm Prysor Viaduct served as a passenger train bridge for nearly 8 decades.

Since its recognition as a Grade II listed structure, the Cwm Prysor Viaduct has become a popular walking route with stunning views of the Welsh countryside 105ft above ground.

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The High Level Bridge – England

The High Level Bridge in NewcastleSituated in the bustling northern city of Newcastle, the High Level Bridge is a grand road and railway bridge. Spanning across the River Tyne between Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead, the historic High Level Bridge consists of over 5,000 tons of iron and has been in use for over 175 years.

Sitting at 130 feet tall, the High Level Bridge was actually opened by Queen Victoria herself.

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Colne Valley Viaduct – England

(In construction)

Coln Valley ViaductThe most modern viaduct on our list, the Coln Valley Viaduct is the largest civil engineering project in HS2 Phase 1. Opening in 2025, this magnificent viaduct bridge is planned to carry the High Speed 2 railway across the Colne Valley Regional Park and the Grand Union Canal.

Once completed, the Coln Valley Viaduct will be over 2 miles long. And weighing over 116,000 tonnes, it will soon be the largest railway bridge in the UK.

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