Nene Valley Railway
The Nene Valley Railway is a fantastic day out for little (and big) ones. Dogs can even come too!
The historic steam or diesel trains run to set timetables throughout the year and travel between Yarwell on the Northamptonshire border, through to Peterborough in Cambridgeshire. The stops in-between are Wansford, Ferry Meadows, and Orton Mere.
We visited during the Easter holidays and boarded at Wansford and travelled to Yarwell and then back towards Peterborough. The nostalgic hissing steam sounds of a steam locomotive; the rattling of the carriages, the banging of the doors at each stop, made the ride so enjoyable, that we decided to stay on-board a while longer – and only got off as we reached Ferry Meadows the second time! In my opinion, Ferry Meadows is by far the best stop to explore with children. (More details below)
The trains have plenty of carriages where you can opt for an old fashioned private booth or a seat with a table and watch the picturesque villages and countryside zoom by. There is also a restaurant carriage where you can purchase light snacks and drinks. Toilets are on-board too.
During Easter, the Easter bunny hops on board too!
Kids of all ages are catered for with wonderful events planned throughout the year. One that caught my eye is the Teddy Express in May. There are discounts for children accompanied by a teddy bear, tombola, games, bouncy castle, face painting, picnic boxes, storytelling in the waiting room. For more information, read the Teddy Express page.
Of course, a huge draw to the Nene Railway is Thomas The Tank Engine. The little blue engine has numerous events throughout the year – but book early to avoid disappointment. The Thomas ride only operates between Wansford and Yarwell, however, Wansford Station is an attraction in itself during the special Thomas events. Lots of familiar characters are around to entertain. Similar to the Teddy Express, there is also face painting, a bouncy castle etc.
During December, Santa Specials are a unique treat. At Wansford station children can visit Santa’s log cabin and receive a gift. During the journey, (to Peterborough and back) children receive a drink plus chocolates and adults receive a tasty mince pie treat and tipple too! Santa also walks down the train, so make sure your camera is ready!
What can you do at each stop?
Yarwell Station is a tiny stop which is only accessible by train or by foot. A 25 minute walk will take you to the nearby villages of Yarwell or Nassington. Both have local pubs.
Wansford Station (near Stibbington) is the main hub for the Nene Valley Railway. The station has a booking office, shop, cafe, toilets, and a small childrens’ play area. There is a sizeable car park and lots of locomotive sheds full of rickety, old carriages and engines. On platform 4 (in a converted rail coach) there is also a model railway. Whilst we were there, the station also had a small bouncy castle on the platform too! As you exit the station, in season you can opt for some river rides too.
Ferry Meadows is the perfect place to disembark with kids (and dogs) A few minutes walk leads you to the Country Park with a visitor centre, restaurant, miniature railway, lakes and multiple children play areas. If it is a warm day, bring a change of clothes and a towel, so that little ones can play in the sand and water at the Otter Playground. There are also a series of Geocaches throughout the park, and if you like water-sports, then you can hire kayaks, canoes and pedalos.
At the station itself, you can visit the Night Mail Museum. The museum is full of exhibits telling the story of the postal deliveries. which is open every weekend running days and most midweeks days during school holidays.
Orton Mere has an adjacent free car park for visitors – making it a useful point to join the train. The station serves a variety of snacks and drinks when passenger services are running. Within walking distance are the lakes and the River Nene. It is not a particularly picturesque station, and doesn’t provide any attractions for children.
Peterborough (Nene Valley) Station
There are some renovations due here so tickets and refreshments are temporarily available at the Railworld Wildlife Haven in the Eastern terminus. However, you can walk to the city of Peterborough with all modern facilities, shops, and restaurants.
Have you been on the Nene Valley Railway? What did you think?
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