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IN THE GREEN and pleasant countryside of Scotland and England, vintage trains go chugging along winding railway tracks.

Excited day-trippers pile on the trains, which are pulled by steam or diesel locomotives. The Brits and Scots seem to be particularly fond of old-fashioned trains, perhaps because their lands were cradles of the late-18th-century and early-19th-century Industrial Revolution that pioneered railways.

These days, Scotland’s Strathspey Steam Railway preserves some of that past, running 20-mile excursions in the vintage trains through the rolling Cairngorm Mountains.

Strathspey train driver Henry Leese leans out of a 1952 diesel locomotive. True train buffs would know the engine by name and number; a British Rail Ivatt (No. 46512).

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But for most sightseers, it’s the older, steam-powered trains that are more romantic and more evocative of a bygone era. The trains pull into quaint stations, billowing clouds of steam across the platforms through which passengers emerge, just like in the Masterpiece Theatre TV period dramas.

Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times NWTraveler editor. Contact her at