I honestly can’t think of a more wonderful way to spend Easter Sunday than riding a Heritage railway line with my family. It’s such a simple outing, but something about it – especially when children are involved – is totally magical. I suppose it’s because it’s not about getting to a destination: it’s about being together, looking out the window, eating a packed lunch, taking silly photos, and having an excuse to slow down and enjoy the journey.
We started our trip on the Wensleydale Railway at Leeming Bar, which had a fabulous gift shop, ticket desk and cafe in a converted railway carriage on the platform. It was unpleasantly cold and drizzly when we got there so a hot cup of coffee in the cafe was just the ticket to warming us up as we waited for the train to arrive. Unfortunately the steam engine had some technical issues, so they couldn’t run it, but the diesel engine was fun nonetheless. It was fascinating looking around the station at the dilapidated trains; all rusted and dirty and full of character.
When the two carriage train pulled up, you could smell the excitement (and the diesel) in the air. It was run down, rusty, and the paint was peeling, but like most old things in need of a little TLC, I thought it was charming. I don’t know why, but I find rust quite beautiful (it must be the artist in me). The conductor unlocked each door in turn with the carriage key and we rushed on to claim seats so all 9 of us could sit together (my mum, dad, two sisters, brother in law, niece, nephew, boyfriend and me). The interior was just as worn as the outside of the train, but the seats were comfortable and we had plenty of space.
The train took us to Redmire, about an hour down the line, then back again; stopping briefly at Bedale, Finghall Lane and Layburn, where some people got off for a spot of lunch (and a loo break). On the way we passed charging rivers, old stone cottages, wild woodlands, fields of vibrant yellow rapeseed, grazing sheep and frolicking lambs, hoards of hopping bunnies, horses of all sizes, beautiful grouse, and even turkeys.
On board the train we had loads of fun – we chatted, played games with my niece and nephew, ate lunch (including chocolate easter cake), shouted “TUNNEL!” when we went through a tunnel (although they were actually just bridges – but my nephew was wide eyed with the excitement of the sudden darkness, all the same), shouted “TOOT-TOOT!” when the horn blowed, and watched bunnies hop across the line.
The two hours passed at just the right pace and eventually we were back at Leeming Bar, thanking the driver though the window for taking us on such a lovely journey.
Sometimes the simple things in life really are the best.