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Five favourite heritage railways in the UK


With over 150 heritage railways in the UK, it can be hard to know which one to visit first. Here’s a round up of some of our favourites, from the big names to some underrated gems.


North Yorkshire Moors Railway

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) is the largest heritage railway in the UK. It has been running through the North York Moors National Park since 1836, when it opened as the Whitby and Pickering Railway.

The railway ceased commercial operation between in 1965, but was reponed in 1973 and now runs as a tourist attraction.

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There are hosts of fun experiences and events to get involved with, including the free Heritage Open Days which are on right now, and the breathtaking Light Spectacular event in October, which sees NYMR’s heritage carriages decked out in thousands of lights and ready to take you on a train journey like no other.

As if that doesn’t sound magical enough, NYMR is perfect for Harry Potter fans – Goathland Station appeared in the films as Hogsmeade Station.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway – NYMR

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Severn Valley Railway


Opened in 1862 as part of the Shrewsbury to Hartlebury line, the Severn Valley Railway today runs for 16 miles along the Severn Valley, from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster.

A trip on one of Severn Valley Railway’s vintage steam trains is a great day out for the whole family, with stunning scenery, delicious on-train dining and tons of fun events throughout the year. From spooky Halloween ghost trains to magically festive Christmas trains to immersive murder mystery experiences, you’ll always find something to do at Severn Valley Railway.

Severn Valley Railway – Heritage steam railway (svr.co.uk)

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Ribble Steam Heritage Railway

If you’re a seasoned heritage railway traveller looking for something a bit different, Ribble Steam in Lancashire might be for you.

Although small, Ribble is unique in a couple of ways. The line runs directly through the middle of Preston town centre and is the only heritage railway in the UK which includes crossing a swing bridge.

The 3-mile return trip runs along the banks of the River Ribble and offers some stunning views of Preston. Plus, there’s an excellent museum and fun events, including their quarterly Steam Gala weekends – the next is October 1!

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Ribble Steam Railway – come together, learn and connect

Isle of Wight Steam Railway

If you’re over on the Isle of Wight, this heritage railway is well worth checking out.

The railway passes through five miles of stunning countryside between Wootton and Smallbrook Junction.

The Isle of Wight’s first railway opened in 1832 and until the 1950s the island had 55 miles of railway line, from busy lines serving the holiday resorts of Sandown and Shanklin to sleepy rural lines to Freshwater and Ventnor West.

On your journey you can sit back in a restored Victorian and Edwardian carriage and enjoy the beauty of the Isle of Wight. The journey takes around an hour, but you’ll also want to make time to visit the museum and interactive Train Story experience.

There’s also the option to experience riding on the footplate of one of their steam locos – one to tick off the bucket list!

Home – Isle of Wight Steam Railway (iwsteamrailway.co.uk)

Dartmouth Steam Railway

Public steam train pulling carriages over a bridge through Devon Countryside from Dartmouth to Paignton

This 7 mile heritage railway takes you on a breath-taking trip through the picturesque scenery of the South Devon coast and into Dart Valley.

Formerly part of Great Western Railway, the line opened in 1861. The line from Paignton was closed in 1972, but Dart Valley Railway purchased the line section and restarted train services in 1973.

We recommend the Round Robin ticket, which is their bestseller for a reason. As well as a steam train journey, this full day excursion includes a ferry crossing, river cruise and bus journey in the price of the ticket. The ticket gives you plenty of time to immerse yourself in the beautiful surroundings and to spend some time exploring the towns along the way.

There’s also the chance to sit in the historic Devon Belle Observation Carriage, originally built as an ambulance vehicle for the London & North Western Railway in 1917 and still operating today!

Dartmouth Steam Railway And River Boat Company (dartmouthrailriver.co.uk)

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