Here in the Cotswolds, we are blessed with beautiful countryside, rolling hills, dark atmospheric forests, an abundance of plant life and wildlife, and fabulous pubs and cafes to visit whilst out and about exploring.
If that doesn’t make us lucky enough, we also have the Great Western Steam Railway on our doorstep meaning the smell of steam and the toot of a steam train whistle can often be heard as you walk about the surrounding countryside. The occasional glimpse of a majestic steam train thundering through the countryside is a remarkable site.
The GWSR has just reopened after the winter and is now operating again so whether you fancy splashing out on a steam train ride or just popping along to see them pull in and out of the station you’ll certainly be able to do this.
Toddington station in Gloucestershire is a great spot, aside from the actual platform they have a lovely cafe, one or two shops, an old signal box where you can try your hand at being a signalman, and a narrow gauge railway that takes you up to see a model railway and on for a short scenic ride.
If you have any little train enthusiasts in your house (I speak as a Mum to three and a half-year-old train-obsessed little boy!) this is a perfect day out, there is even a steam train-themed play area for the kids to burn off some energy.
From this month the route has also been extended to Broadway, a beautiful part of the Cotswolds. The station and train line to Broadway has been closed for around 60 years and has been brought back to life this year.
A lovely trip might be jumping on the stream train at Cheltenham racecourse and heading for Broadway, walking or catching a bus into Broadway for lunch, and a wander around the lovely array of shops there, and then catching your train back to Cheltenham.
Tickets can be bought beforehand online or can be purchased easily at the station. It’s a lovely experience sitting in an old-fashioned style carriage, hearing the roar as the steam is let out, and smelling the steam that powers the trains and is an amazing experience even for those who don’t feel as excited by trains. Older riders will feel a sense of nostalgia about steam train journeys from their youth when that was the only way to ride.
If you are out and about walking in the area you may be lucky enough to see a steam train whistle by. Some great walks can be found in the Winchcombe area and since the steam trains stop at Winchcombe station you are certainly in with a chance of seeing one.
If you head towards Greet and Gretton you’ll often get lucky and spot the steamies.
There are also special events that the Great Western Steam Railway hosts throughout the year, one of the biggest being a Santa special train ride at Christmas time where families can either ride in a carriage and be visited by Father Christmas or actually go on the train to visit him in his grotto.
Another firm favorite for the little ones is when Thomas The Tank Engine arrives for the day to pull all of the carriages, seeing a full-sized, fully functioning Thomas can be really quite exciting for the kids and a day that they certainly won’t forget (and probably won’t stop talking about for days to come, sorry parents!)
For the adult enthusiasts amongst you, there are actually courses that you can pay to go on where you’ll learn so much about these engines and even get the chance to drive them. These make a brilliant gift and you can even pay an extra small fee to take a friend or partner along with you to share the experience with.
The Great Western Steam Railway is such a valuable asset to the Cotswolds and offers just another reason to come and pay us a visit this Spring. Hope to see you soon!