Much of Scotland's traffic-free cycle network is composed of former railways lines. They are a delight for cyclists as they often traverse stunning countryside and provide the means to avoid busy roads. Not only that, the remains of the railway in the form of bridges,stations and tunnels area point of interest along the route. Julian Holland's "The Lost Lines of Britain" provides inspiration for those who enjoy both the cycling and the railway history of these routes.
Many of these lines were closed as part of the Beeching cuts in the 1960s. Dr Richard Beeching proposed wholesale closure of unprofitable routes and stations in order to tackle the significant losses that the railways were making, largely due to increasing competition from road traffic. Some might say that the cycle network was the only beneficiary of the Beeching cuts.
Holland's book is hardback and full of photographs of the railways as they were and how they are today. It is too large to take with you on a cycling journey and is more suitable as an armchair source of dreaming and planning future adventures.
The book is about Britain and most of the railways are, naturally, in England. The chapter on Scotland has seven railways, including the Formartine and Buchan Way, which I have cycled and written about. Most of the other railways are ones that I did not know much about and did not know that there were cycle routes on them, so the book has given me some new ideas.
If you enjoy cycling along old railway lines in Britain and are interested in the history of those lines then this book is a must. The size of the book makes it impractical to take with you on those cycle trips, but it can be used to begin the planning process and get you excited about what you are likely to see along the route.
You can click on the image of the book to purchase it from Amazon.