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Come on, do the Locomotion! Trainspotting, Railways and Steam Trains around the counties
The Southern counties are home to some of the most fantastically preserved steam railways in the UK – so why not hop on board and take a train ride back in time?
Perfect for a day out with the family or for any avid train-spotter, some of these sites are the backdrops to famous film and television series like ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘The Woman in Black’ – and run special events that will make you feel part of the movie magic, such as murder mystery evenings. Whatever holiday park you’re staying on, there’s plenty of steam railway excursions to choo-choo-choose from!
Bluebell Railway – East/West Sussex
The Bluebell Railway runs an 11 mile long (22 mile return) heritage line on the edge of East and West Sussex, and is home to a stunning collection of vintage steam locomotives and carriages - many of which were preserved straight out of service from British Railways. Operating across 4 stations, there’s plenty to see and do on this day out, from picturesque countryside and perfectly preserved platforms, to special dining events and beautiful gardens to picnic in.
The railway runs a train timetable between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead, putting on various events throughout the year. Special events like visiting engines, family fun days like the ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ (including free travel for children if they bring their teddy!*) and historically themed days like ‘Steam Through the Ages’, means there will be something for everyone, no matter what time of year you’re on your holiday.
Where: Sheffield Park Station, EAST SUSSEX, TN22 3QL
Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway (RHDR)– Kent
There’s no better way to explore Kent than a trip on the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway. Along with the experience of riding some classic steam locomotives, the 4 RHDR stations offer the perfect opportunity to hop on and off the trains, meaning you can take in scenic coastal or country walks, explore medieval churches or visit iconic lighthouses on the south coast. Close to both New Beach and Marlie Holiday Parks, this excursion is one that will help you make the most of a day out in Kent.
As well as being ideally located for exploring surrounding Kent and the coast, special events run throughout the year to suit all visitors – such as the chance to meet 'Fireman Sam' at New Romney railway station in September 2019, as well as a Bus Rally displaying vintage buses, coaches and taxis (and running free bus travel all the way Dungeness). You don’t have to stray far from the railway for refreshments either, almost all of the stations offer a range of food and drink, including a vintage style tea room for an afternoon treat - so you can reenact the scene from "Brief Encounter".
Where: Romney, Hyther & Dymchurch Railway, New Romney Station, New Romney, KENT, TN28 8PL
Sittingbourne Steam Railway – Kent
Within easy reach of Sittingbourne’s mainline station - which is served by trains from London, Medway and large Kent towns like Canterbury, Dover and Ramsgate - Sittingbourne Steam Railway is a not-quite-so-hidden gem on the south coast. Escape the hustle and bustle of busy towns and head back in time; Sittingbourne Steam Railway operates the original engines and rolling stock on the original train line of the historic paper mill, so you can get a real feel for how steam railways felt in their prime.
As well as rides on the original engines through the beautiful Milton Creek Country Park, the site also houses a museum that shows you the history of the railway and the paper-making industry in Sittingbourne, as well as an impressive model railway (which a few lucky youngsters can operate!) and a grandstand view of the engine shed, where you might just catch a glimpse of some extra special locomotives passing through! Cameras at the ready, this is one not to be missed by train-spotters.
Where: Mill Way, Sittingbourne ME10 2DZ
Dartmouth Steam Railway – South Devon
Part of a railway line that has existed since 1848, this particular stretch is full of history. It's 7 miles long and travels along the South Devon coast into the Dart Valley. As well as giving you the best views of the seaside, the Dartmouth Steam Railway is an easy way to get to key towns and ports up and down this corner of the coast. When you hop off the train at the beautiful village of Kingswear you can then switch to the partnering Dartmouth River Boats operating up the River Dart; letting you see a nautical side of Devon that your car simply wouldn’t allow you to!
Running directly through Waterside Holiday Park along the coastline, the Dartmouth Steam Railway is ideally situated for you to make the most out of your coastal getaway. This famous and award winning tour is a unique way to explore South Devon and experience the quaint towns of Paignton, Dartmouth and Totnes – operating services between the 30th of March to 29th of September, there’s plenty of time throughout the year to explore Devon whenever you choose to visit!
Where: Dartmouth River Boats, (Opposite the New Angel), South Embankment, Dartmouth TQ6 9BH
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