7 ideas for family days out by train

31 January 2024

Do something different with the family this spring and take them on a scenic train journey to discover new places and experiences. And, as taking the train is one of the greenest ways to travel, it's a great way to teach the kids about caring for our environment too.

Whether it's a grand day out with the grandkids, a dad and daughter day or spending time with your nephew, taking the train is a great way to connect with each other. Spend quality time window gazing from the train, take a packed lunch and enjoy the sights as you embark on a beautiful train journey across Britain.

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Step back in time and explore railway history

Head to Locomotion Shildon for a wonderful day out for train-enthusiasts of all ages. Get up close and admire trains from throughout history and learn about Britain's railway with exhibitions and hands-on interactive areas. Grab a souvenir of your visit at the gift shop and sit in old train seats as you enjoy the delights of the café. Before you head back on the train along the historic Bishop Line, let the kids burns off some energy at the railway-themed playground outside.

Train on display inside a museum

Uncover the locations behind the magic

Little witches and wizards across the world dream about taking the magical journey to Hogwarts and learning the magical arts. You can help bring some of this magic to life by visiting locations across Britain that have been used in the popular films.

A trip along the impressive West Highland Line is about as close as you can get to travelling the route of the Hogwarts Express train. Grab a window seat (and don't forget your camera!) for a journey packed with epic landscapes, towering mountains and glistening lochs around every bend.

Head to Durham Cathedral and feel like you're treading the halls of Hogwarts yourself. Easily to reach from the East Coast Main Line, Durham Cathedral has been used to shoot various external and interior shots of Hogwarts and is an impressive place to visit in its own right.

For more interior locations for Hogwarts Castle, a visit to Gloucester Cathedral should also be on your list. The cathedral's Cloisters are used throughout some of the earlier Harry Potter films. Easy to reach from Gloucester Railway Station along the Severn Shores, Golden Valley or Cotswold Lines.

Train travelling along viaduct with green landscapes and mountains in the background | West Highland

Discover history & heritage at World Heritage Sites

For families interested in history, you'll love a trip along the historic Tyne Valley Line. There's so much heritage to learn about including the fascinating history and locations along the World Heritage Site of Hadrian's Wall. From Bardon Mill Railway Station you can take a circular walk to The Sill - National Landscape Discovery Centre and Vindolanda or catch the AD122 bus from Hexham and Haltwhistle stations that will deliver you to many more Hadrian's Wall attractions.

For more history, head to the midlands and take a scenic trip through the historic landscape of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site with the friendly Perrie the Peregrine as your guide. With family friendly walking routes, fun activities and things to spot from your train, the Derwent Valley Family Activity Guide is your must-have companion for a fun-packed day out from Derby to Matlock. Don't forget to include a visit to the historic Mills and a trip up the hillside in a cable car to the Heights of Abraham is a must-do.

Train travelling through countryside

Calling all adrenaline junkies

You'll love a trip along the South Fylde Line, providing easy access at the end of the route to the bright lights of Blackpool and the Pleasure Beach. The train journey itself though is a lot more serene, travelling through Lancashire countryside, passing quaint seaside resorts such as St Annes and Lytham as you journey from Preston to Blackpool South. Take a look at some of the other thrilling theme parks that can be reached by train here.

Train with rollercoaster in the background | Blackpool Pleasure Beach by Train

Discover Wales car-free

Explore the stunning country of Wales without the need for a car. Explore the stunning Welsh landscapes without a car using the network of main line and heritage railways. Wales on Rails have some great suggestions of itineraries that include sspectacular views, coastal walks and majestic castles. Find out more here.

Field of sheep grazing with vast green countryside and train cutting through the middle

Wild days out along the Rhee Valley

This charming route is less than 15 minutes from Cambridge so is perfect to incorporate as part of a longer stay. Enjoy chocolate box villages with thatched cottages, medieval churches and traditional pubs along the route from Cambridge to Royston. Stop off at Shepreth and get closer to nature as you explore the Wildlife Park, next to the station, for an exciting family day out. From here you can also pick up the Churches trail for a self-guided tour of neighbouring villages steeped in history.

Reach the beach by train

We can’t promise the sunny weather but the journey along the St Ives Bay Line, from the charming Cornish village of St Erth to the beautiful town of St Ives is bound to take your breath away! Enjoy walking, paddling or sand-castle building at the family-friendly Porthminster Beach in St Ives or further along the line at Carbis Bay.

This small stretch of railway is considered to be one of the most scenic in Britain. But don’t take our word for it, get planning and see for yourself. For more ideas for days out in Devon and Cornwall by train visit the Great Scenic Railways website here.

Train travelling past clear blue sea and village in background
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