I remember my parents taking me on the Bluebell Railway when I was tiny. I've since been back so many times with friends and relatives as it really is such a special day out. There's not many places in England that you can actually ride a good distance on one of these fantastic old steam trains.
You can travel from the Victorian age at Sheffield Park, to the 1930s at Horsted Keynes, and to the 1950s at Kingscote then hop off and have a good explore before returning.
Its worth booking in the busy spring-time (the flowers and of course the bluebells are blooming then) as the views are breathtaking.
The oldest preserved main-line steam railway in the UK is still one of the best.
The main base is at Sheffield Park station, near the National Trust gardens of the same name. The main locomotive sheds are here, with lots of steam engines to look at, plus a large shop selling railway items, a cafe and restuarant and a small museum display.
Of course, a ride behind a steam engine is a must. Frequency depends on the season, but a round trip takes about an hour and a half. There are special evening restaurant trains with fine dining aboard a Pullman car (advance booking required) and 'Thomas the Tank Engine' days for the kids. You can easily spend a whole day here.
Winter-time trains are especially evocative as the stations are still lit by gas lamps. The website also lists information for wheel-chair users (a special carriage is available).
Once part of the East Grinstead - Lewes line, they are currently rebuilding the link into East Grinstead. If you come by car, go to Sheffield Park station. If not, there is a bus link from the National Rail station at East Grinstead to Kingscote, the current terminus, in summer, which connects with the trains.
Went with the kids for the Christmas special - a great experience riding an old steam train with the lavish interior styling of old. Could hardly contain the excitement of the children who were thoroughly thrilled at seeing and riding on these lovely old trains. Got to meet santa at one end of the journey - nice touch! The train journey lasted about 30-40 minutes each way - as it was Xmas we shared our comparment with another family - but when we went another time we got a whole compartment to ourselves.
The stations are also authentically from the past providing for a real blast from the past.
Good outing for the family - although Dad might enjoy it more than the kids. There isn't much specifically designed for children here, surprisingly.
The main restaurant/pub is at the Sheffield Park end, so if you want to string out your day, bring a picnic and do something at the other end before coming back.
Great day out , if the weather is good!! Pretty good day if the weather isn't so good. Defintely pays to become a member as you get better deals. Can recommend the evening dinner on the Pullman cars. Suggest booking B & B in East Grinstead so you can have a little tipple or two. Service is great on the cars and the food equally as good.
Excellent train rides for children as well as grown up rides. The Christmas Special is excellent value for money and a magical experinence. Well worth booking for Christmas well in advance.
The attraction of noisy steam trains for children and adults alike is always a puzzle. This is a great day out and living locally to three of the stations I know the lovely Sussex countryside is an enticing backdrop to the many budding photographers who lurk in the fields for hours waiting on a steam train to rush past.
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