UK History & Heritage Railway Tour
"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake: the great affair is to move"
On our UK History & Heritage Railway Tour we will travel as Robert Louis Stephenson travelled, to travel for travel's sake over many heritage lines on the trains over the routes that were mostly commissioned in the 19th Century when steam provided the new means of transport in this industrial age. Reliving that romantic era of travel we will let the train take the strain as we sit back, relax and travel through the heart of the English countryside. Whether you are taking a trip down memory lane or creating a new one, it's the perfect way to unwind and experience the nostalgic sights, sounds and smells of steam travel from a Bygone Age.
This tour is a must for the railway enthusiast wanting to be taken back to the days of steam or for a new disciple wanting to experience steam travel for the first time. To feel the gentle movement of the carriage as the train trundles along the line and then the smell of the smoke as it drifts by the window automatically takes one back to a remembered past or experiencing something for the first time creates a very relaxing aura. We will embark on many heritage railway journeys together and traverse the valleys where the lines were first laid, discover glorious Yorkshire, from the edge of the rugged Dales across the moors to the spectacular coast, pass through market towns, small villages, woodlands and farmland. All this while we sit back, relax and enjoy our journeys.
When we are not on board our trains we will be visiting heritage sites associated with the railway, Didcot Railway Centre with its unique collection of buildings, engines, carriages, wagons and other artefacts, the National Railway Museum in York and at Shildon Locomotion Railway Museum, which is the major restoration location for the National Railway Museum, we will see much restoration being undertaken in the engine shed. We may be able to have our lunch breaks on board the trains or in heritage railway cafes. Much to see and more to do. Each evening at dinner, in our hotels, we will be able to relive the day and look forward to boarding our air conditioned coach next morning to take us to the start of another adventure.
This is a tour developed for the very special purpose that we hope will, in a small way, ensure those keeping this part of our heritage operating being given the support they need as they keep this working history functioning for the generations who were not fortunate to have steam trains a part of their everyday life. There are heritage train tours offered around the world, but from our research, we believe that this tour format has never been offered before in Australia or the UK and our 2017 and 2018 tours were outstanding successes.
Once we have received your booking, we will request from you information concerning any specific areas that may be important for you to visit. We will do all we can to comply to your request, as long as the site is within the geographical boundary of the tour.
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Please note: This itinerary has been prepared on a geographical basis to allow us over our two (2) weeks together to visit many Heritage Railways and to ride on the trains over the routes that were mostly commissioned in the 19th Century when steam provided the new means of transport in this industrial age. We will endeavour to visit the individual railways on a day that steam engines operate on the lines, however following contact with each and every Heritage Railway as part of this tour, there are days when Heritage Diesel Engines operate due to maintenance or other factors. It is hoped that by having a programme as broad as appears below, there may be the flexibility to visit specific sites that are of special interest to those on tour. We will travel throughout the beautiful English countryside aboard our air conditioned coach to visit the various Heritage Railways and our time in York will allow us to visit the National Railway Museum, the home of both the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard. We will travel on many of the World's Greatest Heritage Railways, one being the North Yorkshire Moors Railway with its 40 kilometres of scenery.
Wednesday 21 June 2023 - LONDON: Tour guests arrive at Heathrow Airport and make their way to our hotel in the airport precinct. The remainder of the day and evening is free to relax and meet other guests. Dinner will be in our hotel. During dinner we will discuss our programme for the next few days. D
Thursday 22 June 2023 LONDON to SALISBURY: After breakfast at the hotel, our coach will depart on our way to Salisbury and for our first experience of riding a train hauled by a Steam Engine plus being able to walk through the sheds where many historic steam trains are being serviced. This will be at Didcot Railway Centre which is based around the original four track GWR Engine Shed built in 1932. Here we can also view the collection of GWR steam engines, coaches, wagons, buildings and small relics and also a recreation of Brunel’s broad gauge railway. Our first stop will be at the Mid Hants Railway known as the Watercress line and we will as we sit back, relax and travel through the heart of the English countryside. Following our visits we will head to our hotel in Salisbury for dinner and our stay there for tomorrow we head further south west to Buckfast. The format of this first day on Tour will be the model for our days ahead. B/D
Friday 23 June 2023 - SALISBURY to EXETER: We will head further west today and during the day we will visit both the Swanage Railway “The Purbeck Line” and Dartmouth Steam Railway & Steam Boat Company. Swanage is an award-winning standard gauge preserved steam railway located in Dorset with easy access from neighbouring Hampshire and the South of England. We will experience a unique journey through six miles of beautiful scenery passing the magnificent ruins of Corfe Castle, travelling down to the blue flag beach at Swanage. More to see for after lunch we head to Dartmouth Railway. The Dartmouth Steam Railway, formerly known as the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway, is a 6.7-mile heritage railway on the former Great Western Railway branch line between Paignton and Kingswear in Devon. After a full day we move on to our hotel for our 2 night stay. B/D
Saturday 24 June 2023 - EXETER: Another great day immersed in the History and Heritage of Rail travel as we intend to visit the Dartmoor Railway and then move closer to our hotel and visit South Devon Railway. Dartmoor Railway has a commitment to keeping the nostalgic experience of rail dining alive and aim of creating new and exciting train adventures to inspire the next generation. Then to South Devon Railway, the multi-award winning South Devon Railway is one of Devon’s and the West Country’s best loved tourist attractions and is the longest established steam railway in the south west. There may be an opportunity to visit the Totnes Rare Breeds Farm and Dartmoor Otters. We may stay in the area for dinner before heading back to our hotel. B/D
Sunday 25 June 2023 - EXETER to the COTSWOLDS: This morning we say goodbye to Exeter as we start our run north and visit Minehead, the West Somerset Railway that is the longest heritage railway in England with its 20 mile scenic journey through the gently rolling Quantock Hills and distant Exmoor, unspoilt villages and farms nestling in leafy lanes while travelling adjacent to the Bristol Channel. But this is not enough for we head further East to visit the East Somerset Railway which with is a preserved Steam Railway running through the Mendip countryside near Shepton Mallet in Somerset. A full day that eventually leads us to Broadway, an historic town in the Cotswolds for more adventures! B/D
Monday 26 June 2023 - CHELTENHAM: Today our visit is to one of the iconic Heritage Steam Train lines, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. At GWR we will enjoy a 25 mile round trip and the line commands wonderful views of the sleepy hamlets and villages as it runs through the beautiful Cotswold countryside. More to see but dinner and a drink awaits us in our hotel. B/D
Tuesday 27 June 2023 - CHELTENHAM to NOTTINGHAM: Today we head further north to Nottingham, but first we will visit the Severn Valley Railway. For 40 years steam hauled trains have operated along the line running through the Severn Valley hugging the side of the Severn River. A break in the midst of this 16 mile run is a must to visit the exhibition steam locomotives from the reserve collection, plus more. . This will be our last stop for the day before entering Nottingham where we will stay two (2) nights. B/D
Wednesday 28 June 2023 - NOTTINGHAM: Our visits today take us to two (2) very famous Heritage lines. First will be a surprise as there are a few in the mix, all Heritage Sites and all excellent for our enthusiasts. Churnet Valley one of the best steam railway days out on magnificent trains through beautiful countryside. River valley, woodland, bridges, tunnels and Victorian stations and then Peak Valley that as part of the old Midland Railway line between Manchester Central and London St Pancras provides steam train rides through the beautiful Derbyshire Peak District. B/D
Thursday 29 June 2023 - NOTTINGHAM to YORK: We leave Nottingham early for today we head north to York where the National Railway Museum is located. As we proceed along our way we will call into one of the famous Heritage Lines, the Great Central Railway. Voted No. 12 on the list of the 50 greatest railway journeys in the world and is the UK’s only double track, main line heritage railway. Our visit here will be one of the many highlights for our railway enthusiasts. A long day but home for the next four (4) nights will be the historic town of York. B/D
Friday 30 June 2023 - YORK: Following such a busy few days, today is a free day in York for you to enjoy in this historic town. York is a walled city in northeast England that was founded by the ancient Romans. Its huge 13th-century Gothic cathedral, York Minster, has medieval stained glass and 2 functioning bell towers. The City Walls form a walkway on both sides of the River Ouse. The Monk Bar gate houses an exhibition tracing the life of 15th-century Plantagenet King Richard III.
So much history and so much to see and then there is the National Railway Museum, the home of the Mallard and the Flying Scotsman. B/D
Saturday 1 July 2023 - YORK: Today will be another great day enjoying steam travel, however, we will ride on one line only, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, one of the world’s greatest railway experiences. There will be much to do and see as we board at Grosemont Station for our return trip to Pickering. Goathland Station of TV Heartbeat fame, Pickering Station, built in 1847 by GT Andrews, Grosmont where the NYMR engine sheds are located and finally, Whitby, with its quirky narrow streets and bustling harbour. B/D
Sunday 2 July 2023 - YORK: After breakfast we head further north as we will be visiting a spectacular heritage railway. Wensleydale Railway has preserved 22 miles of the former line from Northallerton to Garsdale that opened in 1878. This line is an authentic heritage line that also serves the community as it traverses the Yorkshire Dales running through unspoilt countryside. Then a special visit further north to Shildon Locomotion Railway Museum. Dinner will be in York. At dinner we will discuss the special day that awaits us tomorrow. B/D
Monday 3 July 2023 - YORK to WOODHALL SPA: First we may do a little train spotting and then head off to Keighley and Worth Valley Railway with its complement of many locomotives and a lovely line. Also at Haworth is the home of the Bronte sisters and their village is a great place to have lunch. Following our day in the Yorkshire Dales we will head south to Woodhall Spa for a special stay in a Heritage Hotel. A big day that may see us in our new hotel a little late for dinner. B/D
Tuesday 4 July 2023 - WOODHALL SPA to KINGS LANGLEY: We head into uncharted territory today on yet another adventure with this move into Norfolk where we will find the North Norfolk Railway that runs from the smart Victorian seaside resort of Sheringham to the Georgian town of Holt, the North Norfolk Railway runs through the county's most stunning coastal scenery. Then to the Wells and Walsingham Railway, set in picturesque North Norfolk, you will see the longest 26 centimetre (10.25 inch) narrow gauge steam railway on the planet including 2 locomotives that were specially built for the line called the Norfolk Heroine and the Norfolk Hero. These are two railways that our previous tours did not visit. B
Wednesday 5 July 2023 - KINGS LANGLEY to LONDON: Maybe a little later start today as we prepare for our run south to London but first we will call into the Mid-Norfolk Railway which is a 15 mile (24 km) preserved standard gauge heritage railway, one of the longest in Great Britain. Much rolling stock here to view before we continue our final journey of the tour. B
Thursday 6 July 2023 - LONDON: Today, after breakfast, your tour concludes. We say farewell to some of our travelling companions as they head off on their next adventures, however, others will relocate back to our Heathrow hotel to join me for the start of our Bomber Command Tour. B