It strikes me that all small children (and grown men) are filled with excitement at the prospect of a ride on a steam train. The smell, the noise, the chugga-chugga-choo-choo as you are pulled along the track. The incessant waving at other small children out the window and the gentle up and down on the padded seat makes us feel like something special. A throwback to some bygone era- history on rails- even if it does only last five minutes!
The OH is (secretly) as excited about steam trains as the kids, so we have been on a few old tracks in the last twelve months. Funnily enough, it is one kind of day trip that he jumps at! These are our favourites:
1. Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway opened in 1927 and is one of Kent’s most popular attractions. The small steam locomotives run from Hythe to Dungeness, a 13 mile stretch with 6 stops along the way. Hythe to Dungeness takes just over an hour but you can get off wherever you like along the route. We have done this trip a few times- park in the car park at Hythe Station and grab a take away coffee for the journey in the cafe. Enjoy the ride to Dungeness – a very strange place indeed- and check out the beach, look for hagstones and spot wildlife as you take a walk to the wonderful Pilot Inn for lunch.
2. Dartmouth Steam Railway in Devon takes in Torquay, Paignton, Brixham, Dartmouth and the River Dart, Kingswear and Totnes. The full size engines pull old-fashioned, elegant carriages through spectacular coastal landscapes. The experience is very authentic- my kids were a little scared of the noise at first but got used to it quickly. There are a whole host of options and packages available but we chose to take the steam train to Churston to visit Greenway House, a National Trust property formerly owned by Agatha Christie. Take the Miss Marple bus that runs between the house and the station- easier than walking along the country lanes with little kids. If you are just interested in the steam train you can book a return trip or a round trip and don’t have to detour!
3. For the Thomas the Tank Engine fans in the family, a Day Out With Thomas is a must! Check the website for dates and venues around the UK as they are many and varied. We did this at Christmas time and went to Didcot in Oxfordshire to meet Father Christmas and have a ride on Thomas. Although the OH moaned that they ride on the steam train was quite short, it is a great experience and the kids loved it! Seeing their faces light up as Thomas comes choo-chooing down the track is magical. At Christmas time the decorations, Santa experience and Thomas characters interacting with the children makes it a very special day out.
Enjoy! Amy x