My son has been mad about steam trains for as long as I can remember. With him having a December birthday we spent a number of years celebrating his birthday with a trip to see Father Christmas on a heritage railway line. Holidays have often involved steam train excursions too, so I thought it was about time that I put a list together of suggested Top Steam Train Adventures across the UK.
We’ve been on quite a few heritage railway lines over the years, but I’m always looking for recommendations, so I’ve asked a number of other bloggers for their favourite steam train adventures too. It’s worth knowing that under 5’s often travel for free, and we definitely made use of this offer when my son was smaller.
We live really close to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton. Again, we’ve enjoyed Days Out With Thomas here and it’s often somewhere my son and his Dad disappear to for some quality time together. The line itself is quite short, but there are often miniature railways running as well as model railway layouts and a museum.
A few years before that we’d joined friends for a day out exploring the Bodmin & Wenford Railway.
There’s also lots to do at Lappa Valley including a couple of train rides.
We haven’t been to the Lake District since my son was born and it’s somewhere we’re eager to explore with him as there are a number of railways to enjoy. The Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway has long been on my list to explore and Jane’s adventures there have reinforced that idea.
Natalie at Crummy Mummy tried out the Dartmouth Steam Railway. The railway is a great way to explore South Devon. Nicola at The Mummy Monster also enjoyed an excursion on this line, but one at night, which looks fantastic.
We spent my son’s eighth birthday enjoying a trip on the Swanage Railway, and he got to stand on the footplate of one of the trains. It’s definitely somewhere we will remember for a long time to come. You can also stop at Corfe Castle along the route.
Suggestions for County Durham come from Samantha at North East Family Fun and the Tanfield Railway, while Catherine from Rock and Roll Pussy Cat recommends The National Museum at Shildon. We would love to make a visit up to this part of the world as Shildon looks like an amazing place for steam train fans to explore.
Catherine from Passports and Adventures has enjoyed a Day out With Thomas on the Dean Forest Railway. Whilst Lucy at Momma Mack enjoyed a miniature steam train adventure on the Perrygrove Steam Railway.
We’ve visited the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway a number of times over the years.
My son loves it when they also have their miniature railway running alongside the main steam trains. We’ve not visited there at Christmas time, unlike Emma at Bubba Blue and Me who tried out their Santa Express trip.
I grew up on the Surrey/Hampshire border so the Watercress Line holds hold memories from my own childhood. We’ve taken my son on trips there a number of times over the years, the last being for a wizarding weekend.
I always enjoy seeing other families enjoy somewhere we love too, and Katy and her family at Hot Pink Wellingtons certainly do.
Somewhere else that is a firm favourite with my son and Daddy P is the Eastleigh Lakeside Railway. It’s a miniature railway, and somewhere that has become one of their favourite places to spend time together. It’s lovely to see that Wendy at Naptime Natter and her family enjoy it too.
I have fond memories of the Isle of Wight and have discovered we have relatives living there, it’s somewhere else that’s on our family to-do list. Even more so now I’ve discovered the Isle of Wight Steam Railway thanks to Tracey at Pack the Pjs.
It’s always interesting to see somewhere we’ve enjoyed through the eyes of another family, and Sarah-Jayne from Keep Up With the Jones Family shows us what the railway looks like at a much sunnier time of the year!.
When my son was nearly 4 we had a long weekend away in Kent and got to enjoy the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway which has some stunning views across Romney Marsh and beyond.
If you’re near Bury then why not try out the East Lancs Railway, their Halloween Ghost Train looks like great fun. Thanks to Jenny at The Brick Castle for this recommendation. While Nicola at Mummy to Dex can recommend the West Lancashire Light Railway for a narrow gauge adventure.
If you’re in the area then we can thoroughly recommend spending some time on the Great Central Railway near Loughborough. We’ve been a few times as it’s fairly close to where my best friend lives, it’s always a good day out.
Another one of my son’s birthdays was spent aboard the Nene Valley Railway, and this still stands out in my mind as one of the best organised Santa’s Express trips we’ve been on, and we’ve done a lot!
We’ve enjoyed a couple of trips on the Chinnor and Princes Risborough railway over the years. A trip along the full length of the track takes approximately 25 minutes each way. They often have special deals on for Mothers and Father’s Day. Our first visit was over Easter 2012 and I returned with my son last summer when kids travelled for £1. A bargain way to spend some quality time together.
Somewhere we’ve visited lots of times is Didcot Railway Centre. There’s so much to see there and we’ve enjoyed days out there at all times of the year. From Days out With Thomas to adventures aboard the Flying Scotsman and the Union of South Africa.
We’ve made lots of memories there over the years and it’s still one of my son’s favourite places to explore. There are two short lines to travel on, there are engine sheds to explore as well as a museum. It’s the perfect place for a picnic on a sunny day too.
Another firm family favourite here is the Severn Valley Railway. We’ve made numerous visits to travel the line over the years. Where else do you get to see elephants and rhinos from your carriage window?
We ran out of time to try The Polar Express on the Telford Steam Railway last year, but we’re hoping to try out this line later in the year. It was great to read up on Lisa’s thoughts from The Family Ticket.
Jane from Hodge Podge Days recommends a trip on the West Somerset Railway. It’s Britain’s longest standard gauge steam railway and runs for twenty miles from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead, and is another line that we’ve got on our to-do list, hopefully soon.
We’ve recently discovered Statford Barn Railway near Tamworth and can thoroughly recommend it for a day of steam loco and tram adventures.
We added the Churnet Valley Railway to our list of Steam Railway adventures recently and enjoyed the 10.5-mile round trip through the lovely countryside. Our first time travelling behind a US-built steam loco.
You can take a look at our trip on the Kent and East Sussex Railway. We also spent a day on the Bluebell Railway in October last year when the Union of South Africa was visiting, which we can thoroughly recommend.
We took my son up to York a few years ago and another post I’ve still to write up is all about the National Railway Museum in York. It’s a must for any steam train fan. We also got to spend the day on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which is probably my favourite heritage line to date. It’s a really beautiful line to travel on, and ending in Whitby for fish and chips by the seaside, what more could you ask for?
We are eager to return to Yorkshire and explore other railways there. Suggestions for a future trip come from Erin at Yorkshire Tots who recommends Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway, and another adventure on Kirklees Light Railway.
A trip to Scotland is something else we’d love to do, so some steam railway recommendations have been most welcome. Sarah at Let Them Be Small and Jenny at Monkey and Mouse both recommend a trip on the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway near Stirling. Other ideas from Jenny include having cake and enjoying the steam trains on the Strathspey Railway and if you happen to be in Perthshire then a trip on the Wester Pickston Railway is a must.
We visited North Wales in April last year and realised very quickly that we could spend a good few weeks just exploring the various steam railways. We got to enjoy a couple of trips in various weather conditions, on the Ffestiniog Railway and Snowdon Railway.
Nikki at Notes of Life certainly got to see more scenery on her trip on the Ffestiniog line! The mist was well and truly down on our visit.
Can you think of any other top Steam Train Adventures across the UK that we should be aware of? I’m always looking for new ideas of places I can take my young steam enthusiast.
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