Despite most of us embarking on a busy commute each day filled with the underground, overground and late-running rail services, there’s something quite special about a trip on a steam train. Or maybe we’re all just eager to live out our inner Frances Bourgeois…

Head back in history, see the countryside roll past you and enjoy some quality family time at one of these eight exciting steam railways. But which one will you choo-choose? 

Bluebell Railway, East Sussex 

Just a short drive out of the city lies Bluebell Railway, an eleven mile railway line stretch that’s slotted in the heart of Sussex countryside. 

Best enjoyed in bluebell season, the steam engine railway offers you the perfect family-friendly day out. It’s like stepping back in time with the on-board staff dressed in traditional period clothing. 

There are four stations that you can visit, all preserved in different periods of history, from Victorian to 1930s and 1950s. Head here to delve into the history and science of the industrial age and ride on board the quaint steam engine.

Where: Sheffield Park Station, Ukfield, East Sussex, TN22 3QL

Kent & East Sussex Steam Railway, Kent 

Get off TikTok, stop swiping right on Tinder and prepare to escape the modern age when you head for a day trip at Kent & East Sussex Steam Railway. Located in Tenterden, Kent, the railway stretches 10 and a half miles, and provides you with the perfect example of what one of England’s light railways once looked like. 

Originally part of the line between Headcorn and Robertsbridge, the railway was the first ‘light railway’ to ever be constructed – these lines are typically equipped to operate with full size trains but have steep gradients and run at very low speeds. 

Hop on board and head into one of the old-fashioned family compartments – perfect for those with little ones.

Where: Tenterden Town Station, Station Road, Tenterden, Kent, TN30 6HE

Bressingham Steam & Gardens, Norfolk

Just a couple of hours outside of London sits Bressingham Steam & Gardens, home to Alan Bloom’s collection of plants and industrial mainly steam powered engineering. 

The space has been open to the public since the 1960s, offering a space for family and friends to come together and learn a little more about old fashioned railways. The steam lines stretch over four miles and there are four journeys you can take part in too, from The Fen Railway, a mile and half stretch that passes locomotive sheds and the lake, to The Garden Railway which runs alongside the perimeter of the Gardens. 

Where: Low Road, Diss, IP22 2AA

Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Buckinghamshire

Get the most out of your Buckinghamshire vacation and head to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre which is surrounded by rolling countryside.

The idea behind the attraction is to recreate the golden age of steam, from large express passenger locomotive carriages to tiny trains perfect for kiddies to whizz about on. Some of their locomotives and carriages date back to the 1800s, so you’ll be uncovering a little history while you’re here too.

Where: Station Road, Quainton, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP22 4BY

The Royal Windsor Steam Express

Nip from London to Windsor in style with The Royal Windsor Steam Express. 

Now acquired by locomotive owner David Buck, The Steam Dreams Rail Co continues to welcome over 19,000 passengers on board every year and will see you zipping out of the city and through the countryside until you eventually arrive in Windsor. 

There are other areas of the UK you can visit too, including coastal resorts, gardens and heritage lines. Every trip is unique and a special day out for all the family.

Where: The Steam Dreams Rail Co, Albury Lodge, The Street, Albury, Guildford, GU5 9AE

Spa Valley Railway

Easily accessible from London, you can travel by mainline trains operated by Southern Railway to Eridge and commence your journey from here, streamlining through the High Weald countryside and experiencing all that’s to offer. 

Every station along the railway line boasts attractions that are just perfect for all of the family, from Groombridge and the Gardens and Enchanted Forest to High Rocks, a quaint station that boasts a beautiful Inn that’s perfect for nipping for lunch or a drink to quench your thirst. 

Where: Wealden Railway Co. Ltd, West Station, Nevill Terrace, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN2 5QY

Where: Wells-next-the-Sea, NR23 1QB

Wells & Walsingham Light Railway

For those looking to win brownie points with their nieces and nephews, take them to Wells & Walsingham Light Railway, the world’s smallest public railway nuzzled in the seaside town of Wells-next-the-Sea. 

Perfect for a family day trip, this North Norfolk seaside railway will bring the sights, sounds and smells of steam travel experience to life before your very eyes. You’ll be chuffing past a hill-fort and a real-life ghost platform…

Churnet Valley Railway

Located in Froghall, the Churnet Valley Railway boasts several steam locomotives, as well as playing host to guest locomotives which come in from other railways across the country. 

For a real upmarket experience, book in for one of the dining trains. From breakfast with a steam rail view to Sunday roasts on board the carriage, there’s something quite magical about dining while whizzing past the rolling countryside.

Where: Churnet Valley Railway PLC, Kingsley & Froghall Station, Froghall, ST10 2HA

Bodmin & Wenford Railway

For those lucky enough to have booked a trip away to Cornwall, make sure you make a day trip out to visit the Bodmin & Wenford Railway. It’s Cornwall’s only full-sized railway that’s still operated by steam locomotives. 

Jump on board and gaze out over the Cornish countryside as you journey along the 13-mile round trip. 

Where: Bodmin, PL31 1AG

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