I think it’s fairly obvious to you all, that we love steam and traction engines. We’re always on the lookout for a new Steam Rally to visit, exhibition to explore or a new Steam Train ride to take. We recently discovered a wonderful place that combines both steam and traction engines – Hollycombe – Steam in the Country.
Hollycombe hosts the largest collection of working steam machinery in the UK, including the largest traditional fairground. Based on the outskirts of Liphook in Hampshire, we decided to head down the motorway and find out more. Hollycombe were holding a Model Weekend earlier this month, and this sounded like something that Monkey and Daddy P would really enjoy.
The first thing you see once you’ve bought your ticket (buy once and return all year – just check the website for opening days/times) is the Steam Train station. Mummy, there’s a steam train! Cue one very excited Monkey. Then he spotted the traction engines – he was going to have a wonderful day.
What to do first? There are different sections at Hollycombe relating to different industries where steam was used in the past. Steam at the Fair, on the Farm, on the Water, on the Rails, on the Estate and on the Road. You receive a map of the Hollycombe site on arrival and there are information points for each area.
In the main entrance we had spotted a sign telling us that the Steam in the Fair attractions would start at 12.30, so we decided to explore other areas first. Yes, we started with the steam train ride.
The Steam Train does a loop around the site and stops half way to show you the view of the countryside. It was rather cloudy/misty on our ride so we didn’t get to see much. But on a clear day I would imagine you can see for miles. Monkey loved the ride, especially as we were sat in the first carriage – toot! toot!
We decided to visit the Waterwheel and Beam Engine and the Steam Farm. Neither of these attractions were running on our visit, but it was still interesting to see everything. Hollycombe is run by volunteers, so I’m not sure that everything around the site is running all the time. This actually makes multiple visits worth while, as every trip would be a little different.
It was lovely to walk in the wooded area along by the farm machinery and we soon discovered the miniature railway. Another train ride for Monkey.
We decided we were hungry and went in search of a somewhere for a picnic in the Woodland Gardens. I’d also spotted picnic tables by the cafe (they sell a selection of sandwiches and hot meals, along with drinks and ice creams) and we later found some in the Fairground area too.
The Woodland Gardens were lovely, quiet and we found an ideal spot to have our lunch. It was really tranquil and a lovely area for Monkey to run around.
But lunch was over quickly as there was so much more to discover. We entered the Fairground area. There are a number of rides, Monkey’s not a great one for that sort of thing, so we watched, rather than participated. But he did discover a couple of model railways, and even got to have a try at moving one of the trains.
Liphook Model Makers club was there for the Model Weekend and a lovely gentleman showed Monkey his various models and let him work them. Monkey was very careful and listened intently to the man tell us all about the various machines. Lovely to watch.
We’d noticed as we parked up at Hollycombe that there were a number of miniature Traction Engines set up by the entrance to the museum and Monkey was keen to have a look at them all. The owners were great with him and one gentleman patiently explained how everything worked. Monkey was just in awe. I have an engineer in the making I think.
There were so beautiful engines on display and we heard that they were all going to be heading to the Fairground later in the day. I made a mental note to keep an eye on the time.
We’d seen a notice about another area of the museum where we could find some more models so we set off again.
There really was so much to keep us all amused at Hollycombe – it was fascinating.
It was wonderful to watch all the miniature engines in one place. Monkey was totally mesmerised.
As we followed the small engines out of the fairground we noticed a Traction Engine with a trailer by the train station.
Can we go on that Mummy??? Yes, I think we should. This was a first for all of us and it was great and not as bumpy as I thought it would be either. A real experience to end our day at Hollycombe.
When Monkey is a bit older I think we’ll try one of the Fairground at Night evenings that Hollycombe hold, I bet the atmosphere is fantastic.
We had a really enjoyable day and we will be back again in the future I’m sure.
disclaimer: we were provided with free entry in exchange for an honest review