Our little family loves steam trains, my grandfather was a fireman on them and hubby’s parents have always enjoyed them too. It was a big tick when husband (to be) confessed his love of steam!
The in-laws has said they were planning to visit Great Central Railway’s Winter Gala and as we hadn’t been before, and handily it was halfway between where we lived and their house (only 90 mins from Buxton), we arranged for us to all go together. It was running over three days (Frid – Mon) and we picked the Friday as we thought it would be a bit quieter.
The Great Central Railway is the UK’s only double track mainline heritage railway where you can be on one steam train and another flies past! There are four stations, with each themed around a different era of steam; a museum; cafes; shops stocked with train memorabilia; a large restoration (locomotive) shed and of course lots and lots of steam trains.
We arrived around 1140 (apologies to the lovely in-laws, we had said we’d probably be there for 10 – but two broken nights in a row had left us exhausted so the day started late) and were immediately greeted with the great view of not one but two steam trains at Quorn & Woodhouse station. We decided to start our journey there as there was plentiful parking. As it was a Gala there were plenty of trains running throughout the day, passenger and goods, toddler E was really excited! As we’d had 90 minute drive to get there, baby A wanted a feed again so I settled down in the cozy ladies waiting room on the platform. Complete with an open fire (toasty) and a leather covered baby changing table! The room with comfortable wooden benches was a perfect spot to eat our packed lunch. The station has been themed around World War II and has been lovingly restored to reflect the era, with interesting posters about how to support the war effort and the radio in the waiting room was playing some fun old tunes E danced to!
Useful Jobs That Girls Can Do – To Help Win the War© IWM (Art.IWM PST 6079)
After a feed we hopped on a train to Loughborough so that we could have a walk around the shed – a proper man’s shed with huge trains in various stages of being restored, so we could use the exposed parts to explain how steam engines work. Most of the renovations seemed to be individual projects, and there were people we could talk with to find out what they were doing.
Back on the train we went the length of the track, from Loughborough to Leicester North and back again. By now baby A wanted feeding again so we relaxed in a private compartment whilst I feed A and we watched the world go by – bliss! We had fun spotting animals from the train, interesting buildings – one which had a Lego man painted on the side and more trains. At Leicester E and daddy got out to watch the train turn around, I stayed on the train. The relaxing journey took just over an hour.
At Loughborough we got off the train and looked at some of the stalls which were selling train memorabilia, toys and other nicknacks. As we’re in the middle of a HUGE clear out at the moment we were very restrained and didn’t buy anything, though to be honest we already have quite a few train sets…
Back on the train we hopped off at our original station and I decided to top A up again so retreated to the warm ladies’ waiting room. Daddy and E stood on the platform and watched more trains.
Just before 4 pm it was time to leave and a wonderfully helpful volunteer ran to the station’s cafe for us so we could buy the grandparents some local beer to say thank you for the day.
Though we arrived late, we had a splendid day. It cost £20 per adult and under 5s were free, normally it costs £16 but the Gala was a special event.
We’ll definitely go again, we had a superb time – it was easy to find comfortable spots to feed A – and none of us can resist majestic steam trains.
Finally, a thank you to grandpa for his wonderful photos from the day.
Here’s to our next adventure!