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Steam railways: train trips around the UK

October 27, 2011
by Laura Canning | guides

Steam Engine on the North Yorkshire Railway, near Goathland Station Choo-choo! No, it's OK, I'm not going to make countless trainspotting references, as old, scenic and steam railway lines are yet another thing I'm geeky about and there are so many around the country to visit.

Whether you want to go on a small scale steam railway in Kent or take a train trip through the Scottish Highlands, there are plenty of options about, all with camping and caravan sites nearby. Here’s a few to get started.

West Highand Line , Argyll and Bute, Highlands and Islands : Readers of Wanderlust voted this the Top Rail Journey in the world in 2009 and 2010 and it's worth travelling to no matter where you are in the country. You start off from Craigendoran near Glasgow, with the first part of the line running along the Clyde Estuary and Rannoch Moor to Fort William. Then it's a trip from Fort William to Mallaig, covering 84 miles and passing mountains, lochs, the silver sands of Morar and plenty of great scenery. We've 11 parks in the surrounding area, with the family-run Deeside Holiday Park bookable on Pitchup.com and just seven miles away. And there are 28 parks in total in Aberdeenshire if you want to base yourself there for a while after the trainspotting.

Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway , Kent : This has been going since 1927, when it was billed 'the world’s smallest public railway'. It’s a 15-inch gauge working railway with ⅓ scale steam and diesel locomotives, along a 13.5-mile route and with seven stations – Hythe, Dymchurh, St Mary’s Bay, Romney Warren, New Romney, Romney Sands and Dungeness. As well as taking the trip, you can also book Steam Driver Experience Days to learn to drive the trains, or do the Great Day Out to look behind the scenes at the workshops and offices on the way. For campsites, we’ve over 50 in the area - try Romney Sands Holiday Village , where you can access the railway from the park’s own station, or Marlie Holiday Park with its sauna, Jacuzzi and heated indoor pool and open all year round.

Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway , Devon : This railway runs six and a half miles along the south Devon coastline from Paignton to Kingwear. You can take the train trip on its own, or pick from some different trips and excursions including steam train journeys only or combining the train journey with a river boat trip. This is a part of the country it’s worth spending at least a few days in, with festivals, coastline, cycle routes and loads more to see and do. We’ve over 100 sites in this part of Devon, with the award-winning Marine Park Holiday Centre one of the local sites.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway , North Yorkshire : Take a steam train through the North Yorkshire moors and stop off at several towns and villages along the way (including Goathland, the setting for Hogsmeade Station in the first Harry Potter film). You can also have a go at driving a steam train or have a luxury afternoon or evening meal on board. Trains and food! Again this is an ideal spot to base yourself in for a few days or more, and with more than 300 sites in North Yorkshire and almost 100 along the train route there’s plenty of choice. Try Jasmine Park , 16 miles from one of the stations en route, Whitby, or you could hire a camping pod at Westholme Estate , both among the several in the area bookable via Pitchup.com.

South Tynedale Railway , Cumbria : This is England’s highest narrow gauge railway, using steam and diesel locomotives between Alston in Cumbria to Kirkhaugh in Northumberland. The line runs for just over two miles, with plans to extend it for 2012. We’ve over 50 sites in the area surrounding Alston - there are pitches for tourers and motorhomes at Herding Hill Farm Caravan and Camping Site and camping pods at Saughy Rigg Farm.

All much better than shivering on the platform at 7.30 am on the way to another day of wage slavery, we’re sure you’ll agree. In fact, maybe you should take a month or two off and explore them all. Your boss will understand.

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