Culture24's top ten summer 2013 heritage steam railway tips for family fun

| 18 July 2013 | Updated: 17 July 2013

A trip along the vintage tracks makes for a brilliant day out for all the family on a summer afternoon. Meet Thomas, see Snowdonia and follow in the footsteps of John Travolta with these picks from our listings...

A photo of a family standing next to a heritage steam train painted like a cartoon
Meet Thomas at the East Anglian Railway Museum this summer© Clare Cracknell / Platform 2 Catering
Severn Valley Railway, Bewdley

Crossing the River Severn on the 200-foot climb which inspired classic caper The Thirty-Nine Steps, this 16-mile western stretch was completed in 1862. Many of the views can only be seen from the railway, with highlights along the way including the cliffs of Bridgnorth and Bewdley’s Georgian surroundings.


Beamish Museum, Durham


The country’s busiest heritage tramway celebrated 40 years on the tracks this spring, and there’s a huge amount to enjoy across the site. Steam railway rides depart from the restored Edwardian station of Rowley.


Dean Forest Railway Museum, Gloucestershire

A little gem of a museum packed with memorabilia and a packed event programme of steamings, diesel days, Thomas adventures, Santa and mince-pie specials - in fact everything you might come to expect from a busy, volunteer-run heritage railway.


Leighton Buzzard Railway, Leighton Buzzard


A narrow gauge railway built with surplus materials from World War I, the 70-minute return journey at Leighton Buzzard runs to the heart of the Bedfordshire countryside. Find out why John Travolta paid it a visit recently.


Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway, West Lothian


Rightly positioning itself as a hidden gem between Edinburgh and Glasgow, this trip skirts the Firth of Forth and the Ochil Hills before allowing for a saunter through the Avon Gorge woodlands. Back at Bo’ness, the Museum of Scottish Railways has recently been extended.


Didcot Railway Centre, Oxfordshire


Great Western Railway steam engines, coaches, wagons, buildings and small relics in 22 acres alongside Didcot Parkway railway station. Three running lines, offer a taste of travel in the 19th and early 20th centuries amidst stations, signal boxes and other original lineside features brought from locations around the GWR system.


Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway, Southampton


Perhaps the most picturesque place for a vintage train journey this summer, Exbury’s trains run daily. Highlights include Strawberry and Steam – coinciding with the Hampshire Food Festival – and the Festival of Autumn Colours.


East Anglian Railway Museum, Wakes Colne


Rolling through Constable country from a heritage site dating back 200 years, the EARM is particularly popular for its Thomas the Tank Engine-themed days, when The Fat Controller oversees family adventures.


Ffestiniog Railway, Porthmadog


They might sell themselves as the oldest independent railway company in the world, but the views on offer at Ffestiniog are every bit as spectacular now as they were at the dawn of industrialisation. Look out for Summer Evening Jazz Trains and special events across the season in Snowdonia.


North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Pickering


Eighteen miles of National Park terrain are covered on this much-loved Yorkshire stretch. Watch out for the Diesel Gala (marking its 30th anniversary) and the Steam Gala (celebrating its 40th birthday) in September, as well as wartime re-enactments and more.

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