10 of the best railway-themed family holidays in England | Travel by rail

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Dartmoor Rail Adventure

After a 50-year hiatus, the legendary Dartmoor Line is back, allowing families to explore the whole of Devon, from moorland to coast, without the hassle of long car journeys. Rail travel first came to Okehampton in 1871, with the Dartmoor line later becoming a key point for the flagship train, the Atlantic Coast Express. Boarding at Okehampton, you can enjoy panoramic views of Exeter before the link road south, then along the seawall to Exmouth, Paignton and Dawlish.
With sea views and use of a communal swimming pool, 3 Goodrington Lodge, Paignton, costs £514 (sleeps four) per week, luxurycoastal.co.uk, dartmoorline.com

Young Engineers Days Isle of Wight

Photography: JCH Faulkner

For young railway enthusiasts, Isle of Wight Steam Railways offers a behind-the-scenes tour of the locomotive workshop and a tour of the signal box. Younger children can pretend to be guards on their traditional pegs. After that, settle into an elegant vintage horse-drawn carriage, complete with polished brass handles and ceiling-mounted windows, for the scenic ride from Havenstreet to the restored Edwardian station at Wootton.
Young Engineers Day (suitable for ages 6-12) takes place on 23-24 April. Adults, £16, children, £14.50. iwsteamrailway.co.uk, wightlink.co.uk

Track the Railway Children in Yorkshire

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Photograph: Rodney Hutchinson/Alamy

The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, used in both versions of Railway children, offers one of the UK’s finest heritage train journeys, an eight-mile journey in dazzling red carriages through secluded moorland from Keighley to Haworth, the pretty village made famous by the Brontë sisters. Several Sundays in the summer you have the option of riding in rarely used Victorian coaches or, at Ingrow’s Railway Travel Museumenjoy seeing heritage cars immortalized in dozens of films.
Family Day Early Returns are £8 from £21.25, kwvr.co.uk

All aboard for the Sleeper in Cornwall

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Photograph: Alex Ramsay/Alamy

The legendary Night Riviera Sleeper from Paddington to Penzance is arguably the most romantic way to get to Cornwall. Lie down in a comfortable cabin and wake refreshed on the wide beaches of Cornwall as you approach Penzance. Add to that a complimentary breakfast to enjoy in bed.
The Night Riviera Sleeper offers advance berth fares from £79 to £195 (one way) based on two people sharing a twin bed cabin, 50% off for children under 16; children under 5 are free, gwr.com

Hot breaks in Somerset

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Wake up to the soothing sound of a steam engine when you stay at Railway House in Crowcombe. This Somerset property, set in 50 acres of rolling Quantock Hills countryside, has recently been restored to create a chic holiday retreat renowned to reflect its position close to the West Somerset Railway. Steam locomotives pass regularly over the bridge and across the western boundary of the house – and the vintage train journey itself is not to be missed. At 20 miles it is one of the longest heritage rides in the UK.
The Railway House sleeps six and costs from £1,595 for a three night stay.; www.uniquehomestays.com, west-somerset-railway.co.uk

Book at a ticket office in Shropshire

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A train lover’s dream ticket, the newly refurbished Station Cottage in Bucknell, Shropshire, includes the ticket office and waiting room of the former Victorian station. Situated along the rural Heart of Wales line which connects Swansea and Shrewsbury, the cottage is Grade II listed and recognized by Nikolaus Pevsner in his Buildings of England series. The front door is a walk along the platform and you can wake up to the trains passing quietly past your window.
The Railway Station Cottage has two bedrooms (sleeps four) and costs from £412 for a four night stay, railwaystationcottages.co.uk

Hop on and off on Hampshire’s Watercress Line

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Photograph: Carl McIver/Alamy

Ride with Thomas the Tank Engine and stop at Alresford, from where the watercress that gave the line its name was transported across the country by train. Head to the heritage station at Medstead and Four Marks – with a steep 1 in 60 grade, it’s the highest on the Old Southern Railway in southern England. At Ropley Playground, you can enjoy model railways and vintage fairground rides before discovering the footbridge used in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Hop-on hop-off family tickets (two adults, two children) advance booking, £40; children 4 and under travel free, watercressline.co.uk

Sleep in a railway carriage in Dungeness

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Dating back to World War II, Hafod Station in Lydd is a uniquely restored railway carriage perched on a secluded shingle beach facing the sea. old travel trunks and milk churn stools. Sleeps four and pets are welcome too.
Hafod Station costs from £869 for a week in early June. Owner can theme the property to suit your needs – everything from Hogwarts to Ghost Trains and Santa’s Grotto
, snaptrip.com

Steam up Bath

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Photography: John Clarke

For a slice of steam history, climb aboard the apple-green 1948 Mayflower B1 locomotive – one of two still standing – in Victoria. Cross the Kennet Valley and pass the chalk horses of Westbury and Pewsey. You can then stroll around Bath the day before before returning to London.
Adult fares from £109 return, child fares from £93, premium dining fares available from £229 pp, steamdreams.com

Beamish Living Museum, Newcastle Gateshead

Beamish Museum, Beamish, County Durham, England, UK, 13th April 2019. Beamish Steam Day: Vintage 1921 Garrett Steam Traction Engine driven by Frank Ingall and family vehicle on display at Beamish Living MuseumT454J2 Beamish Museum, Beamish, County Durham Durham, England, UK, 13 April 2019. Beamish Steam Day: Vintage 1921 Garrett steam traction engine driven by Frank Ingall and family vehicle on display at the Beamish Living Museum
Picture: Sally Anderson News/Alamy

Travel back in time at this unique outdoor museum in County Durham. As well as steam train rides, families can stroll through a 1900s village and explore an Edwardian railway station. End with a stop at the vintage fish and chip shop.
Unlimited Family Tickets from £51, beamish.org.uk

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