Family fun along Thameslink route
Go wild in the Rhee Valley, delve into the rich heritage of Bedford or tire the kids out with outdoor adventures, no matter what you choose to experience first you're sure to find lots of fun family days out along the Thameslink route.
Make the journey part of your day out, enjoy quality time with the family on the train and enjoy the scenery from the window as you explore by rail.
Be sure to check out our other inspiring itineraries including Romans to code-breakers, awe-inspiring architecture, outdoor adventures, pioneering history and extraordinary artifacts.
From an afternoon or a day trip to a short break or longer holiday, however long you spend there's plenty to keep you busy!
Take some family time out in High Weald AONB
East Grinstead railway station offers easy access by foot, cycle or bus to High Weald AONB and is perfect for a day out exploring nature. If you're visiting in the spring, you can marvel at the woodland floor as it turns into a carpet of Bluebells.
Younger children will enjoy taking a stroll through the majestic woodlands, spotting the many critters that make the trees their home and for families looking for thrills there's rock climbing and water sports (available at Ardingly Reservoir and Weir Wood Reservoir).
Families can learn new skills such as baking bread, bushcraft, foraging and woodcrafts at centres throughout the AONB.
Be sure to check out the High Weald Walking Festival, held in September, for an exciting programme of walks led by experienced and knowledgeable guides, around the themes of local history, art, literature, wildlife and geology. Suitable for all ages and abilities.
Take the train to Eridge and explore the impressive geological features that once sheltered Stone Age hunter gatherers and are now popular climbing crags. This 5.5 mile Eridge Walk (approx. 3 hours) from the station takes in Harrisons Rocks and is worth exploring if you're in the area.
Combine your day out by train with a journey along the Spa Valley Railway adjacent to Eridge main line station. Steam train experiences include the High Weald Belle – a retro dining experience in the plush 1960s carriages hauled through the picturesque countryside by a steam or diesel engine.
Both East Grinstead station and Eridge station is part of the scenic Uckfield and East Grinstead route. Find out more about this picturesque railway route here.
Kids in London
Leave the train at London Blackfriars for a great base to start your exploration of central London.
March across the nearby Millennium Bridge, nicknamed the Wobbly Bridge, to the striking St Pauls Cathedral, see the lively street performers, explore the colourful food markets and keep your eyes peeled for the pirate ship!
Many of the museums in London are free and offer inclusive children's activities including interactive displays and interesting workshops. Find out more at SouthbankLondon.com
London Blackfriars makes an ideal base for exploring the rest of the Thameslink route. Check out some of our suggestions on how to have a great day out by train along this route here.
Go wild in the Rhee Valley
From Cambridge to Shepreth is only 12 minutes by train along the picturesque Rhee Valley Line. From the station it's a five-minute walk on the flat to Shepreth Wildlife Park.
Highlights include Sumatran tigers, red pandas, meerkats, and lemurs, with houses dedicated to tropical animals and bugs and reptiles. Enter the nocturnal house if you dare! Or take a stroll through Bunnyland and the savannah enclosures to see who you can see.
With both indoor and outdoor play areas and onsite café and picnic areas, you'll have a lovely day out amongst the animals.
Shepreth Wildlife Park is a 9-acre site and can be accessed by wheelchair and pushchair along tarmac paths.
The upstairs viewing gallery over-looking the tiger enclosure is not accessible to wheelchair users, but 100% of the animals can be viewed from ground level.
Study local culture
Delve into the local history of this charming riverside town and hear stories of the people that lived and worked here as you explore Bedford's Cultural Quarter.
Learn about the fascinating life and imprisonment of John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim's Progress that remained a worldwide best seller for centuries. Children are encouraged to take part in the self-guided trails throughout the John Bunyan Museum looking for clues and learning about the past. Be on the look out for the prison mice!
Nearby, families can take part in a fun self-led I-Spy trail around Higgins Bedford, home to an inspiring collection of artwork from local and renowned artists.
Hear the remarkable story of the Panacea Society, a religious community formed in the early twentieth century, at the Panacea Museum, an ideal place for families with older children to explore.
Take a trip on the train along the Marston Vale Line, stop off at the charming Ridgmont Heritage Centre to marvel at some of the railway relics and have a bit to eat.
Continue your journey to discover the famous Bletchley Park. Families can expect an exciting, fun-filled day, exploring the museum and discovering all about the secretive Codebreakers who worked in the area during World War Two.
Tire the kids out with outdoor adventures
The Forest Centre & Millennium Country Park is a great place to let the kids burn off some energy. Explore over 11 miles of lakeland and woodland paths featuring wildlife hides and panoramic views from the Wetlands Nature Reserve. Bike hire is also available to explore the park on two wheels. The Lakeside Café provides a welcome retreat after all your exploring. Accessible from Millbrook Station, along the Marston Vale Line.
In Bedford, take a stroll along the tree-lined Embankment, hire a rowboat or peddle boat and enjoy a bite to eat along the riverside.
For even more outdoor adventure head to Priory Country Park with 360 acres of green space made up of lakes, meadows and woodland, it's an ideal place for a quiet walk, nature watching, fishing and boating.
Take a journey along the Darent Valley line and explore Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, a pioneering nature reserve which has five big lakes, woodland, diverse wildflowers and wildlife, and, most importantly, abundant numbers of overwintering and migrant birds.
There are a number of trails around the reserve, some of which are fully accessible (as is the visitors' centre). There are hides located all around the lakes, from which to view – peacefully - all the amazing wildlife. Do check opening times before your visit.
We'd love to hear about your scenic rail adventures over on our social media channels. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and share your photos!
To make your days out as enjoyable as possible, we encourage you to plan your trip in advance and check for disruptions before you start your journey. Visit our travel safe page to see what you can do to make planning easy.
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