Monday, 11 July 2016

Bure Valley Railway

Just a short drive away from us there is a quaint narrow gauge railway running between Wroxham and Aylsham. This 18 mile round trip takes in the sights of  fields and villages along the Bure Valley. A single trip takes 45 minutes and you can hop off in the villages en route for a ramble before jumping aboard again to complete your journey. 
Many keen walkers enjoy a one way trip and then preferring to walk back on the foot path which follows alongside the track.

The girls decided to take Daddy here for Father's Day and we took a look at the website to checkout the timetable. 

Tickets cost £8.50 for adults and £5 for children aged 5-15years (0-5 yrs travel for free.) You can even buy a dog ticket for £2.50
(Prices shown here are for single jouney only, more details for return trips can be found online.)

The weather when we set off was rather overcast but unperturbed we made our way to Wroxham to catch the 2pm train. This was the last return journey we could catch on the day. 

Before setting off I gave them a quick call to see whether we needed to prebook (2 adults and 3 children as Mollie took a friend with her) No need to book so off we set.

We arrived it plenty of time to purchase our tickets and to take a look at the train before we boarded. 
Our train, a crimson red, was called Mark Timothy. The tickets were sold in the shop which also sold a few snacks, drinks and simple souvenirs.
"2-6-4 ZB Tank locomotive, painted Madder Lake. Originally built as a County Donegal outline by Winson Engineering in 1999. She was unable to operate in this form and was sent to Alan Keef Limited and rebuilt with a Leek and Manifold outline and returned to the railway in 2003. She has been very successful in this form. " (quoted from 

The girls ran along to find the carriage they wanted to sit in and climbed aboard. The carriages are basic and comfortable enough, restored to their original state using wood and leather. The interior clad in wood and varnished. The exterior has a nice paint finish with crimson metalwork, complete with gold highlights.
Before long it was time to go! The station master waved his flag and pipped his whistle and the train hissed into life. Steam bustled up from under the engine and and train slowly began to creep forward. 
Within a minute it had chugged it's way up to speed. and we settled back to enjoy the view.

The girls were excited at first but did start to get restless after a while so we played games to entertain them and looked for passersby to wave at!

After a 45 minute chug we arrived at Alysham station and were keen to disembark to stretch our legs. This station is larger than the Wroxham one with a gift shop selling the usual toys and souvenirs plus a large selection of model trains and accessories.

We took a walk round the station and noticed that the Workshop was open. Although you can only stand in the door way you get a glimpse at some of the upkeep work needed to maintain the aesthetics of the trains. 

On the main playform there is a mini model railway which the girls enjoyed a quick look at.

It was certainly an attraction to the younger children about.

There was also a large cafe at this station serving a small variety of the usual fayre at reasonable prices, the most tempting was the homemade cakes! However, as we had just eaten lunch before our train journey we resisted! 

We had a bit of time to kill here before our return train was due so we decided to take a walk out of the station to see what was about. We have recently got into Geocaching (you can read more about that by following the link!) we took the opportunity to click on the app and see if there were any caches nearby. By luck there was one just up the road and so we set off. Within 10 minutes we had located and logged this cache and then headed along the road to the supermarket we had spotted to grab some chocolate and drinks for the trip home. 

Then it was time to head back for our return journey.

Had the weather been better we would have considered a walk back but it was too damp and dismal to enjoy a walk so we stuck to the train journey.
Again the girls got a bit fed up once the chocolate was gone so the walk would have been a better option for us.

Bure Valley also offers group outings for schools, birthday packages, special events and very popular are their Santa Express and Thomas the Tank Engine days.

Our Verdict?

We enjoyed the trip but for us it was a little too long and the girls bored quickly. There are options to break up the journey with walks if you go on a good day. 
I think younger children and train fans would enjoy this more than us. I don't think we''ll hurry back though.

If you've got a little train fan then give it a go but if you prefer something a little more exciting then maybe this isn't really for you.


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