The BEST Episodes of Great British Railway Journeys

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Oct 22, 2021

Network: BBC Two

Michael Portillo takes to the tracks with a copy of George Bradshaw's Railway Guidebook. Portillo travels the length and breadth of the country to see how the railways have changed it, and what of Bradshaw's Britain remains.

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Newbridge to Roscrea

#1 - Newbridge to Roscrea

Season 4 - Episode 24 - Aired Feb 7, 2013

Michael Portillo takes to the tracks once again using his Bradshaw's 'Handbook for Tourists in Great Britain and Ireland' from the Victorian era. Portillo is on a railway journey through the Republic of Ireland travelling from the rugged beauty of County Kerry, across the rural Irish Midlands to end in the city of Galway on the Atlantic coast. In this episode, Michael visits the Irish National Stud, discovers how harsh life was for the Irish poor and uncovers an astronomical feat of Victorian engineering.

star 9.00
1 votes
Canterbury to Alexandra Palace

#2 - Canterbury to Alexandra Palace

Season 11 - Episode 11 - Aired Jan 20, 2020

Beginning in Canterbury in Kent, Michael treads the boards as he uncovers the political message behind a play, published in 1936, inspired by the 12th-century murder of Archbishop Thomas a Becket.

star 9.00
1 votes
Swindon to Bristol

#3 - Swindon to Bristol

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired Jan 18, 2010

Michael finds out about free holiday trains for the GWR workers in Swindon, samples the Spa in Bath, and tries his hand at glass blowing in Bristol.

star 8.67
3 votes
Dromod to Sligo

#4 - Dromod to Sligo

Season 8 - Episode 14 - Aired Jan 19, 2017

With his Victorian Bradshaw's guidebook in hand, Michael Portillo crosses the Emerald Isle uncovering Irish identity, forged at a time of political strife. Travelling through the beautiful landscape, Michael learns how it inspired one of the 20th century's greatest poets, WB Yeats.

star 8.67
3 votes
Edinburgh to Kirkcaldy

#5 - Edinburgh to Kirkcaldy

Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired Jan 15, 2010

Michael makes apple juice in the Clyde valley orchards, pays a thrilling visit to the top of the Forth Rail Bridge and relives his childhood memories in his grandparents' home town of Kirkcaldy.

star 8.57
7 votes
Taunton to Salisbury Plain

#6 - Taunton to Salisbury Plain

Season 11 - Episode 10 - Aired Jan 17, 2020

Michael Portillo crosses the county line from Devon into Somerset. He sees first-hand how willow farmers sought to overcome the challenge from the production of synthetic plastics during the 1930s.

star 8.50
2 votes
Brighton to Crystal Palace

#7 - Brighton to Crystal Palace

Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired Jan 3, 2011

Michael finds out about Brighton's Victorian aquarium

star 8.46
61 votes
Oban to Corrour

#8 - Oban to Corrour

Season 2 - Episode 23 - Aired Feb 2, 2011

Michael discovers how trains spread the word about Oban whisky, hears about the heroic struggle to build a railway across the desolate Rannoch Moor, and visits Corrour, one of the favourite shooting estates of the Victorian political elite

star 8.33
3 votes
Killarney to Cobh

#9 - Killarney to Cobh

Season 4 - Episode 21 - Aired Feb 4, 2013

Michael Portillo takes to the tracks once again using his Bradshaw's 'Handbook for Tourists in Great Britain and Ireland' from the Victorian era. Portillo is on a railway journey through the Republic of Ireland travelling from the rugged beauty of County Kerry, across the rural Irish Midlands to end in the city of Galway on the Atlantic coast. In this episode Michael samples nineteenth century foodie delicacies, explores a stunning landscape shot to fame by rails and royals and risks life and limb for the gift of the gab.

star 8.33
3 votes
Dundee to Aberdeen

#10 - Dundee to Aberdeen

Season 4 - Episode 12 - Aired Jan 22, 2013

Michael Portillo takes to the tracks with his copy of Bradshaw's Victorian railway guidebook, he travels the length and breadth of the British Isles to see what of Bradshaw's World remains. Michael is exploring the stunning scenery of rural and coastal Scotland, travelling from Stirling, through the industrial east coast and dramatic Highland landscapes, to the beauty of the western lochs, finally ending his journey in John O'Groats. Michael learns how Queen Victoria used to hide from her subjects, discovers how factory workers went deaf and goes out with a bang in Aberdeenshire.

star 8.25
4 votes
Carlisle to Glasgow

#11 - Carlisle to Glasgow

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired Jan 14, 2010

Michael meets the wild clansmen of Carlisle, the Border Reivers, witnesses a wedding in Gretna Green and visits a secret World War One munitions factory.

star 8.20
5 votes
Swanwick to Brownsea Island

#12 - Swanwick to Brownsea Island

Season 9 - Episode 5 - Aired Jan 5, 2018

Michael Portillo builds a bivouac with a group of scouts and learns about war horses.

star 8.19
31 votes
Kingston upon Hull to Malton, North Yorkshire

#13 - Kingston upon Hull to Malton, North Yorkshire

Season 9 - Episode 11 - Aired Jan 15, 2018

star 8.07
29 votes
Dereham to Cromer

#14 - Dereham to Cromer

Season 2 - Episode 5 - Aired Jan 7, 2011

Michael gets the rare chance to drive a heritage diesel train.

star 8.06
32 votes
Settle to Garsdale

#15 - Settle to Garsdale

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Jan 12, 2010

Michael returns to the historic Settle-Carlisle line to find out what has happened to it since he helped save it in the 1980s. Along the way, he explores the magnificent Ribblehead viaduct, finds out about the navvies who helped to build it and catches a steam train along the line.

star 8.06
33 votes
Plymouth to The Lizard

#16 - Plymouth to The Lizard

Season 9 - Episode 10 - Aired Jan 12, 2018

Michael Portillo boldly goes to the moon by the way of the Cornish Rivera Express!

star 8.03
29 votes
Pontefract to Bridlington

#17 - Pontefract to Bridlington

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Jan 7, 2010

Michael searches for the last liquorice grower in Pontefract, discovers how the railways turned Hull into one of the largest white fish ports in the world and goes fishing for sea bass in Bridlington.

star 8.03
32 votes
Bugle to Mevagissey

#18 - Bugle to Mevagissey

Season 1 - Episode 14 - Aired Jan 21, 2010

Michael visits the largest clay mine in the world near St Austell, goes pilchard fishing in Mevagissey and finds out how the estate of Heligan shaped British gardens.

star 8.00
4 votes
Dumbarton to Tyndrum

#19 - Dumbarton to Tyndrum

Season 2 - Episode 22 - Aired Feb 1, 2011

Michael explores the historic Dumbarton shipyards that built the Cutty Sark, visits one of Queen Victoria's favourite haunts, Loch Lomond, and goes hunting for gold in Scotland's mountains

star 8.00
4 votes
Woking to Clapham Junction

#20 - Woking to Clapham Junction

Season 4 - Episode 7 - Aired Jan 15, 2013

Michael Portillo travels from Woking in Surrey to Clapham Junction in south London. Along the way he gets close to some precious Victorian botany at Kew Gardens, tries his hand at croquet and discovers a very surprising 19th-century place of worship.

star 8.00
5 votes
Spalding to Grimsby

#21 - Spalding to Grimsby

Season 4 - Episode 10 - Aired Jan 18, 2013

Michael learns about how Lincolnshire farmers utilised rails to improve their harvests, visiting the impressive cathedral in Lincoln and looking to the future of rail freight.

star 8.00
3 votes
 Charleville to Waterford

#22 - Charleville to Waterford

Season 4 - Episode 22 - Aired Feb 5, 2013

Michael Portillo takes to the tracks once again using his Bradshaw's 'Handbook for Tourists in Great Britain and Ireland' from the Victorian era. Portillo is on a railway journey through the Republic of Ireland travelling from the rugged beauty of County Kerry, across the rural Irish Midlands to end in the city of Galway on the Atlantic coast. In this episode, Michael learns the ancient art of butter making, attempts to learn the basics of Ireland's oldest game, and rides the Duke of Devonshire's Victorian Irish railway.

star 8.00
3 votes
Kilkenny to Athy

#23 - Kilkenny to Athy

Season 4 - Episode 23 - Aired Feb 6, 2013

Michael Portillo takes to the tracks once again using his Bradshaw's 'Handbook for Tourists in Great Britain and Ireland' from the Victorian era. Portillo is on a railway journey through the Republic of Ireland travelling from the rugged beauty of County Kerry, across the rural Irish Midlands to end in the city of Galway on the Atlantic coast. In this episode, Michael tries his hand at cutting marble Victorian style, uncovers 19th century Ireland's surprising industrial heritage and learns how the railways helped bring motorsport to the masses.

star 8.00
2 votes
Athlone to Galway

#24 - Athlone to Galway

Season 4 - Episode 25 - Aired Feb 8, 2013

Michael Portillo takes to the tracks once again using his Bradshaw's 'Handbook for Tourists in Great Britain and Ireland' from the Victorian era. Portillo is on a railway journey through the Republic of Ireland travelling from the rugged beauty of County Kerry, across the rural Irish Midlands to end in the city of Galway on the Atlantic coast. In this episode, Michael is on the final leg of his Irish journey and discovers historic jewellery with royal connections in Galway, meets a people's king and finds his voice with a traditional Irish singing group.

star 8.00
1 votes
Amersham to Regent's Park

#25 - Amersham to Regent's Park

Season 6 - Episode 6 - Aired Jan 12, 2015

Michael Portillo embarks on a series of journeys through London. He travels on the capital's first underground railway, the Metropolitan Line, from Amersham, where he discovers the foundations for modern day suburbia

star 8.00
4 votes