Forestipedia writer | Helping you to discover the best places on your travels
The Flying Scotsman takes its inaugural run this week after being lovingly restored for the nation. Inspired by this landmark occasion we have travelled the country to bring you our top 10 steam railway experiences.
After a £4.2m, 10 year restoration project under the watchful eye of the National Railway Museum, the great day is upon us. On Thursday 25 February the Flying Scotsman leaves Kings Cross station in London on an historic journey to York. This is followed by a number of showcase journeys around the country and a programme of events at York.
Inspired by this wonderful project, which brings to life an era of elegance, when train travel was a sheer joy, we present our top 10 alternative steam railway journeys.
The Flying Scotsman’s home at the National Railway Museum in York is not the only piece of steam history in Yorkshire. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway takes you by steam train though Heartbeat land, Harry Potter film locations and into the heart of Dracula country in Whitby. Stay at our cabins at Cropton or Keldy, both just a short drive from Pickering.
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
By the south shore of the Firth of Forth, this special little railway looks steeped in history but was, in fact only begun in 1979 with the last section opening to passengers in 2010. However it evokes the great age of the railways and several original buildings have been re-erected along the line. If you’re staying at Strathyre, Bo’ness station is just over one hour away.
The Boness and Kinneil railway
Tucked into the valley between Edwinstowe and Mansfield, this is Nottinghamshire’s only narrow gauge steam railway. A far cry from the mighty Flying Scotsman, this charming family run 5/8th scale narrow gauge railway has two stations and two miniature locomotives. A hidden gem, just up the road from our cabins in Sherwood Forest.
Sherwood Forest railway
Running between Wymondham and Dereham, through the heart of the mid Norfolk countryside, in-car dining is the reason to take this particular line. The Breckland Fryer (fish and chips on a summer’s evening) and the Sunday Cream Tea service bring together dining, travelling, sightseeing and a love affair with steam trains. Catch the train at Wymondham Abbey Halt if you are staying at Thorpe Forest.
Enjoy an 18 mile round trip on a narrow gauge railway through the heart of the Norfolk Broads. Notable for the Boat Train special which includes a one and half hour trip by boat through the Norfolk Broads National Park. North of Norwich from Thorpe Forest.
Bure Valley railway
The Dean Forest Railway, “the friendly forest line” runs on 4.5 miles of the former Severn & Wye Railway between the mainline at Lydney Junction and the village of Parkend, deep in the Forest of Dean. With 5 forest and countryside stations, catching the steam or vintage diesel trains is a satisfying way to explore the local area. Our cabins at Forest of Dean are less than twenty minutes’ drive away.
The Dean Forest railway
Also in the Forest of Dean, Perrygrove Railway offers a short 20 minute forest journey on a miniature steam train. But you can make a full day out of it with the play and picnic areas, treetop adventures and indoor village.
Opened in 1865, this railway was nicknamed for its role in transporting locally grown watercress to the markets in London and beyond. The line now runs steam and heritage diesel engines through the lush Hampshire countryside and offers a window into the great age of the railways. Pick the train up at Alresford Station, which is under half an hour away from Blackwood Forest.
Cornwall’s only full size railway with a regular steam train service, the Bodmin and Wenford line wends its way through the Cornish landscape for 6.5 miles. Bring the dog or the bikes and enjoy the Camel Trail at Boscarne before catching a later train back to Bodmin Parkway, which is a short drive from Deerpark.
There is no doubt that the Flying Scotsman is the granddaddy of them all, but we have found on our travels that the age of steam lives on, the length and breadth of the country. Hop on board and escape to another age.
Bodmin and Wenford line