Our Review of West Somerset Railway!
If you are the parent of a toddler then there is a very good chance you have been on a mini train a fair few times. Our boy, little b, is completely train bonkers. He loves trains so much that when I see that somewhere has a mini train, I get excited! And it turns out loads of places operate mini trains these days – from Garden Centres to sea fronts, from shopping centres to parks. You can pretty much find a mini train wherever you go it seems! So it is no surprise that little b has wanted to go on a proper train – a real steam train. We saw the steam trains up in Pickering back in June but we didn’t get a chance to go this year. You can imagine b’s excitement when we got the chance to go on our local steam train – the West Somerset Railway.
And we’re off!
Mr d and I have been off all week, decorating the new house. We decided to keep Friday as a family day out. The weather was at least dry and we set out early for Bishops Lydeard.
Bishops Lydeard is a little village in Somerset, not far from Taunton. We have friends that live there so we were familiar with the area. Once you get to the station, there is a large, free car park where you can leave the car for the day. Perfect.
As you can see, the weather was a bit cloudy but we knew we’d be on the train so we weren’t too worried about the threat of rain !
Little man was beyond excited when we boarded the train and loudly exclaimed “we’re on the train” to the whole carriage. You could see the look on people’s faces – yay, an hour and a half of a noisy toddler – and that was just mr d and I.
At 10.25am we departed on our merry way. Our journey took us right to the end of the line at Minehead, famous for Butlins.
The trip isn’t a quick trip either and we knew we’d be on the train a good hour and twenty minutes. We just hoped b would keep his interest levels up for that time. And mostly he did.
There were a few times he thought it acceptable to stand on the seats! Luckily the ticket inspector passes through quite frequently so we told B that he was checking to see if children were seated or not. This seemed to work! I have to say, having his pink train ticket stamped was probably the highlight of the trip for him!
A trip to the buffet car also kept b interested, as well as two toilet trips. Yay for potty training.
The train ride passes through some beautiful countryside heading right up the Somerset coast to Watchet and along to Dunster, before terminating in Minehead. Once we got to Minehead, we headed out of the station and had a little wander along the seafront. The seafront isn’t huge but there are a few arcades to keep little ones entertained. Personally I hate the arcades but b loves the flashing lights and sitting in all those broken rides. Sigh.
We decided we’d spend a couple of hours at Minehead then catch the 2.25pm train home. This gave us plenty of time to wander up the main high street, grab a sandwich and head back to the beach for a picnic. To be honest, sitting in one of the many bars and restaurants would have been lovely but after our last eating out escapade with b, picnics are the way forward – even if they consist of sandy sarnies! We were lucky that the weather was warm and dry. It wasn’t overly sunny, but it was nice enough to enjoy the beach and relax there for a bit.
At 2pm we headed back over to the station to wait for our train. It comes in with plenty of time to spare so there wasn’t a rush. There were loads of seats free as well so we were able to get one with a table again. There’s a Proper Job shop in Minehead and I managed to pick up a few things to keep the little guy entertained on the trip back.
I thought the train would keep him amused but it turns out three hours on a train is probably a bit much for my boy.
He was fine but I could tell he was getting twitchy on the trip back. We could have hoped on from a station closer to Minehead if we wanted to. Without a toddler, the ride is lovely and relaxing!
If you are planning to ride the rails with young children, I’d recommend something to keep them entertained. There are only so many times you can visit the buffet cart and walk the carriages! Fortunately West Somerset Railway do offer loads of different family days out on the train – things from Halloween themed rides to Santa Express trips at Christmas. I’d definitely consider one of the themed trips in the future!
Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to be given free tickets to ride the rails with little b and mr d. As always, all thoughts and opinions about our trip are honest and my own 🙂