A grand day out with the grandkids by train

30 October 2022

There's something quite special about taking the grandkids on a day trip by train. Spend time together gazing out of the window, play travel games and enjoy quality time catching up as you journey to your destination. And because taking the train is one of the greenest way's to travel, you'll be demonstrating how changes, like the way we travel, can help save our environment.

We've compiled some suggestions below for delightful days out that grandparents and grandchildren alike will enjoy, along community rail lines across Britain.

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Family waving at the train

From train to ferry in scenic Scotland

Take a break from the city and explore one of Britain's prettiest railway stations, overlooking the Firth of Clyde as you enjoy the 50-minute journey from Glasgow Central to Wemyss Bay.

Marvel at the impressive glass roof, before heading to the station bookshop run by the Friends of Wemyss Bay Station who also maintain the beautiful floral displays on the station. Inside the bookshop, you can view photos illustrating the construction of the station. Grab a bite to eat from the homely station café before heading to the ferry.

The ferry trip from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, takes 35 minutes and is worth it just for the views along the Firth of Clyde, from the Argyll mountains to Cumbrae and Arran. The kids will love taking the ferry and looking out for seals in the bay! Families can stroll on the promenade watching the lapping waves and there's plenty of history to explore including Rothesay Castle, Bute Museum and the Discovery Centre in the former Winter Gardens.

Ferry crossing the Firth of Cylde
Ferry between Wemyss Bay & Isle of Bute

Code breaking at Bletchley Park

A short 5-minute walk from Bletchley railway station, at one end of the picturesque Marston Vale Line, and you'll reach the iconic Bletchley Park, once home to the top-secret World War II Code Breakers. Get hands on with fascinating interactive displays and don't forget to pick up a free multimedia guide to hear more stories as you explore the park. Understand the origins of the computers we use today with a visit to The National Museum of Computing or learn about the development of radio communications technology at the National Radio Centre, both located inside Bletchley Park.

Cheshire's hidden gem

Take a trip along the charming Mid Cheshire Line from Manchester Piccadilly or Chester, leaving the train at the market town of Knutsford. From here head to Tatton Park, one of the UK's more complete historic estates. Home to a Tudor Old Hall, Neo-Classical Mansion, 50 acres of landscaped gardens, 1000 acres of deer park and a rare breed farm there is plenty for all the family to explore.

Bletchley Park. Photo: Julie Clarke from Pixabay
Bletchley Park

Have a ROARsome day out in the Rhee Valley

Just 12 minutes by train from Cambridge along the picturesque Rhee Valley Line, you'll arrive at Shepreth. Across from the station is Shepreth Wildlife Park. Here families can see Sumatran Tigers, Red Pandas and Meercats at play, with plenty more animals to visit too. As well as the wildlife habitats, the park provides visitors with a chance to learn about important conservation work carried out including the wonderful hedgehog hospital. See more inspiring ideas for days out along the Thameslink route here.

Coastal views from the train

Treat the grandkids to a trip along what is considered to be one of Britain's most scenic railway routes. Bring a picnic for the train and spend time window gazing. Your journey along the Cambrian Coast Line will take you from the beautiful Shropshire town of Shrewsbury into the majestic Welsh countryside, passing the striking Snowdonia National Park. Be sure to grab a window seat and have your camera at the ready as the line meanders along the spectacular Cambrian Coast.

Cambrian Coast Lines, Wales on Rails
Cambrian Coast Line

Create & make with pottery in North Staffordshire

Take a trip on the picturesque North Staffordshire Line and visit the home of The Potteries. Gladstone Pottery Museum is only a 15 minute walk from Longton station and offers families a variety of engaging exhibits and hands on learning.

As Britain's only complete Victorian pottery factory, families are invited to have a go at throwing a pot, making a bone china flower or painting pottery. There are children's trails to follow, watch expert demonstrators and go inside giant bottle ovens as well as learning more about pottery and local history. Pay a visit to the café for a bite to eat before you head back to the station.

Explore Shakespeare's heritage along the Shakespeare Line

Stratford-upon-Avon is world famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare and with over 800 years of history to explore, this charming town is ideal for a family day out. From Shakespeare's Birthplace to the magical Butterfly Farm and the extraordinary MAD museum, there is plenty to discover.

A 20 minute walk from Stratford-upon-Avon railway station will bring you to Avon Boating. Here you can hire a small boat or book on to a public boat trip to marvel at the picturesque views down the River Avon. Stratford-upon-Avon is connected by train to the aptly named picturesque Shakespeare Line.

Filey coastal walk. Image by 9699804 from Pixabay
Filey coastal walk

Explore Yorkshire on foot

For a more active adventure, grab your walking boots and a small picnic and take the train north from the vibrant port city of Hull to the Scarborough coast to join up with a long-distance walk. From Scarborough Station, you can pick up the final stretch of the Cleveland Way – a 10.5 mile walk between Scarborough and the neighbouring seaside town of Filey boasting impressive cliffside views along the way. After around a four-hour walk (allow more time to stop and take in the beautiful scenery!) you can re-join the Yorkshire Coast Line at Filey Station and return home along this scenic route.

Alternatively, you can start your walking adventure in Hull along the estuary where you'll pick up the start of the charming Yorkshire Wolds Way running from Hull to Filey.
Please note these are long-distance routes and may only be suitable for experienced walkers. For those less experienced you may wish to break these routes up into walks that are shorter in length, visit the individual websites for details. Please also be mindful of the countryside code and be sure to leave only your footprints behind.

Scenic Rail Britain is the tourism initiative from Community Rail Network, the umbrella organisation for the community rail movement. Community rail is a grassroots movement spanning Britain that is made up of community rail partnerships, which work along railway lines or across regions, and volunteer station 'friends' groups, to connect communities with their railways. There are over 75 community rail partnerships and 1,200 station friends volunteer groups across Britain. Find out more: www.communityrail.org.uk

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