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Trainspotting: Top 5 Vintage Railways

3 September 2018 | Emily May

From miniature steam trains in the Lake District to mountainous rail routes in Snowdon, there’s plenty of vintage train lines in the UK for rabid rail fans to choo-choo-choose from. We’ve rounded up some of the country’s best historical locomotive lines, so you can blow off some steam with a unique train experience!

Severn Valley Railway, Kidderminster
Running regular, steam-hauled passenger trains between Kidderminster and Bridgenorth, The Severn Valley Railway (SVR) was built in 1858 and spans 16 miles through the beautiful Worcestershire and Shropshire countryside. Now a major tourist attraction, the railway is largely run by volunteers, and puts on various historical special events, such as 1940s weekends with re-enactors, live music and vintage clothing stalls. As well as visiting the beautiful, period station at Kidderminister, make sure you take a tank engine to Highley Station to see The Engine House, which is home to SVR’s collection of full-size steam locomotives.

Image Credit: Paul G Howcroft via Flickr
                                          
The Severn Valley Railway runs between Kidderminster and Bridgenorth. The main Kidderminster station is located on Comberton Hill, Kidderminster, DY10 1QR.
 
Bluebell Railway, Sussex
One of the first preserved heritage lines in the country, The Bluebell Railway runs trains between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead in Sussex. Make sure you stop off at every station, as each one has been restored in a different period style, and has unique sights to see, from Horsted Keyes’ Elephant Van which was originally used to transport circus elephants, to Sheffield Park’s museum detailing the history of the railway. With trains from the 1880s to 1960s, The Bluebell’s collection is one of the finest of vintage steam locomotives, many of which were preserved straight out of service from British Railways. The railway is also a top tourist spot for television and film fanatics, having been seen regularly in Downton Abbey, Muppets Most Wanted and Churchill’s Secret.

Image Credit: loose_grip_99 via Flickr
 
Strathspey Railway, Cairngorms National Park
Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of its restoration this year, Strathspey Railway in Scotland is a 10-mile section of the original Highland Railway line. Taking you through the breathtaking scenery of the Cairngorms National Park, the luxurious locomotives also offer on-board catering, from Sunday Luncheons to traditional afternoon teas and of course, a selection of Highland Whisky, so you can enjoy a wee dram as you chug past the River Spey.

Image Credit: The Loose Cannon via Flickr
 
Strathspey Railway’s main operating station is Aviemore, which is located at Aviemore Main Street, Aviemore, Scotland PH22 1PY
 
Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway, Cumbria
Affectionatley known as La’al Ratty (meaning little railway in olde Cumbrian dialect), the Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway is a 15 inch gauge railway that opened in 1915, after the original 3ft line was closed in 1913. It transports passengers from Ravenglass (the only coastal village in the Lake District) to Dalegarth for Boot, a route that is famed as being a favourite of fell-walker, author and illustrator Alfred Wainwright. The trains have a range of carriages, from cosy covered ones to open tops for sunny days. Make sure you keep an eye out for the endless wildlife along the route, including Greylag Geese, Curlew, Shelduck, Red Squirrels and Buzzards.

Image Credit: Point And Shoot Photos via Flickr
 
Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway operates between March and October (and during November and December for Christmas). The Ravenglass Station is located at Ravenglass, CA18 1SW, and the Boot Station is located at Boot, Holmrook, Cumbria, CA19 1TG.
 
Snowdon Mountain Railway, Wales
Committed mountaineers may want to hike to Snowdon’s summit, but for rabid railway enthusiasts, a vintage steam train to the top may seem like a better mode of transport. The Snowdon Mountain Railway has been taking passengers from Llanberis station into the hills since 1896, making the highest summit in England and Wales accessible to all. The peak is called Yr Wyddfa or “Grave of the Giant” and legend has it that it was where the giant, Rhita Fawr lived before having his head chopped off by King Arthur. On your way to the peak, make sure you look out for stunning natural sights, including the Ceunant Mawr waterfall, Moel Cynghorion (the Mountain of Councillors) and even the Peregrine Falcon – the world’s fastest animal.

Image Credit: steam60163 via Flickr
 
The Snowdon Mountain Railway is located at Llanberis Station, Llanberis, Caernforn, LL55 4TY.
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