Review: Kent and East Sussex Railway - a great family day out
What I loved about it:
This was a great day out that the whole family enjoyed. I loved the nostalgic feel of travelling back in time whilst the children were in awe of the steam train. The volunteers and staff added to the magic of the day as each greeted us with a smile! Chugging through the picturesque countryside was a wonderful experience.
Value for money (out of 10):
Kent and East Sussex Railway - a fun-filled, family day out!
As soon as we arrived at the quaint Tenterden Town Station my son was bursting with excitement! Walking into the station felt like we had stepped back in time with the station typical of light-railways of the period. Originally passenger trains ran from 1900 until 1954. Service was restored to Bodiam in 2000 and today Kent and East Sussex Railway welcomes around 90,000 visitors each year.
The steam train, a 1943 locomotive named Swiftsure, was already in the station and my little boy couldn’t wait to check it out.
The vast majority of staff are volunteers who helped make our day feel truly special. They were particularly brilliant with the children; my little boy was invited on to the footplate (that’s the bit where the train driver stands to operate the train). He even got to wear the station master’s hat – he was in his element.
Inside, the carriages were beautifully restored and made for a comfy ride. The journey time between Tenterden and Bodiam takes around 50 minutes each way. We sat back and relaxed as we travelled through glorious countryside. The route is within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and follows the wide unspoilt Rother Valley for much of the journey.
The children were kept entertained for the whole time; they were given activity packs and colouring sheets and loved looking out for the different wildlife on the wildlife spotter sheet.
There are refreshments available on the train or you can pick food up from the station tearoom before you go. We went for the latter and ordered afternoon tea to take on board. This comprised of two delicious scones with cream and a little cake – I would tell you how it tasted but my little girl demolished it before I even had a chance! The children were provided with munch bags which had everything they needed to set them up for the day!
We decided to make the most of our day and paired our journey with a visit to Bodiam Castle – you get 10% off of the entry price. The castle was stunning and provided a great stop-off point with beautiful grounds perfect to grab a coffee or an ice cream. The castle was thoroughly explored by the children who loved all the nooks and crannies and especially the steep spiral steps that took us up to the towers.
On the journey back to Tenterden we travelled by diesel train, constructed in the 1950s, again beautifully restored and was another wonderful experience! We chose to sit at the back where there is a wide observation window and had fabulous views as we travelled back to Tenterden.
Kent and East Sussex Railway also run a variety of special events including ale and ciders trains, in partnership with Old Dairy Brewery next door and fish and chip suppers. For something truly special you can dine in style on one of the Wealden Pullman’s carriages dating from the 1920s – the sparkling afternoon tea is definitely on my list of things to do! I don’t want to mention the ‘C’ word too early but do look out for the Santa Special train services that you can book soon.
We had a truly magical day with Kent and East Sussex Railway and was the perfect way to escape the modern world for a bit. We will definitely be returning and this time with the grandparents in tow – a day out with Kent and East sussex railway would certainly make a great gift!