07 February 2009, 07:00
A Highland rail line has beaten 400 other contenders to be voted the most scenic in the world.
The West Highland Line which links Mallaig to Glasgow has been voted number one by the readers of the travel authority magazine Wanderlust.
The second and third place were taken by two Peruvian rail journeys, the Cuzco to Puno line and the Cuzco to Machu Picchu line.
The passenger service on the Highland line is operated by First ScotRail, but during the summer the steam train, used as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films, operates between Fort William and Mallaig.
The journey was chosen for its wonderful scenery, along loch sides and across the famous 21-arch viaduct at Glenfinnan.
The route also takes in Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain, Arisaig, Britain's most westerly mainland railway station, Loch Morar with its stunning beach and views of the isles of Eigg, Muck and Rum.
A spokeswoman for VisitScotland told the Herald: "It is fantastic to hear that the West Highland Line has beaten 400 other rail journeys worldwide to come out on top, reiterating the appeal of Scotland. Offering the opportunity to appreciate our countryside and indeed our natural surroundings, it is a route which proves very popular time and time again.
"I hope this news encourages more people to get out and about and appreciate the scenery. With Homecoming Scotland 2009 taking place up and down the country, there has never been a better time for both visitors and locals to explore."
Steve Montgomery, acting managing director of ScotRail, said: "We are delighted that Wanderlust readers, who are so passionate about travel, have chosen the West Highland Line.
"It is a testament to our staff, our services and the line itself - now the world's top rail journey. We look forward to welcoming more visitors to savour the line's delights."
Wanderlust Magazine editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes added: "We had a terrific response to our new train journey category and it is obvious that the appetite for rail travel is ever increasing.
"Having a Scottish winner for this award is particularly exciting, and shows you don't have to travel far for truly world-beating scenery."
Last updated: 09 February 2009, 16:08