It’s well known that Santa is a busy man this time of year. He has presents to wrap, reindeer to prepare and elves to organise. He does like some down time though and enjoys travelling on the West Somerset Railway steam train. If you time it right, you can take a trip with him at this time of year too! This is exactly what we did last weekend. We were lucky enough to be invited by West Somerset Railway to ride the rails with Santa and enjoy a glass of sherry!
The Santa Express services depart Bishops Lydeard Station, near Taunton and make the scenic journey between the Quantock Hills to Williton and back. You can do the trip from Minehead but Bishops Lydeard is easier to get to for us The round trip takes about an hour and a half, with a 20 minute stop in Williton to swap the steam engine.
The day started amazingly well – sherry and a mince pie just after we set off. Yep, a sherry at half ten in the morning! The kids could choose an orange or apple juice and were given a little pack of sweets each. Haribo, of course!
We weren’t waiting too long before Santa got to our seat. As per usual, b did the “hide behind mummy” trick and wouldn’t say a word.
He is always so eager to see Santa but the minute he gets the chance, he goes all shy. Here is the obligatory Santa and child photo!
B did tell Santa he was three and was presented with a suitable gift. The gift was actually really cool and perfect for b. A little fire engine and ambulance, as well as traffic cones and a road sign. He pretty much then spent the whole train ride whizzing both vehicles up and down our table. We were travelling with some good friends and their little girl, also three, received a soft toy. We weren’t sure if it was a cow, a sheep or a dog. I think we settled on a cow in the end and named her Daisy.
Next to visit us on-board was a magician! He performed a number of little “tricks” which b thought were brilliant – lights at the end of fingers, sponge balls coming out of ears and mouths and disappearing toys. Perfect for the little ones. B really was amazed and we’ve been doing “magic” all afternoon at home. It’s amazing the amount of toys that have come out of b’s ear this evening.
Look at his face! Mesmerized!
Once we arrived in Williton we had a 20 minute wait while they switched the steam engine around. If we wanted, we could get off the train and go and have a little look along the platform. B and daddy had a walk and mummy had a quick nap. Mummy had a few too many party nights this weekend and was feeling super tired. It was also bloody freezing cold and I didn’t want to step outside of the warmth!
When we got going again, the staff filled up the carriages for some festive sing-songs. As per usual little man had zero interest in joining in and mr d headed to the buffet car to grab a coffee. I don’t think the 10am sherry was going down so well hehe. On the journey back to Bishops Lydeard, the kids were given crayons and festive activity sheets.
The magician visited again to “wind” the little man up – literally! Before we knew it, we’d arrived back at the car.
We had a really lovely morning on the steam train. B loved it and I’d highly recommend it if you have kids that love Santa and steam trains. One tip from me, if you are travelling in a larger group, you might want to get there a little earlier than your departure time to try and get seats together. Seats are not allocated and you can choose where you want to sit. We were a party of seven and we arrived half an hour before departure and got two seats next to each other.
For full details on the Santa Express rides, take a look here. Adults cost £14.50 and children 1-17 years cost £12.00. Under 1s are £3.50. You can also view the full timetable and route map online. I’m not sure I would have taken b when he was younger. It’s nice this age (3) because he actually gets what’s going on and can enjoy the entertainment. The West Somerset Railway staff really made an effort to keep the children amused on the journey. I thought it was well planned and there was enough to stop the little ones getting bored and restless.
We were lucky enough to ride the steam train during the summer and this trip was probably a bit long for b. He started getting fidgety on the way home. I’d certainly do the Santa Express again though, I just might book a later slot so I can enjoy the sherry without feeling too naughty!
Have you been on a festive steam train? Did your little one enjoy it?!