Is there a cooler way for steam-train-loving toddler (and his steam-train-loving parents) to spend a Sunday than meeting Thomas at Nene Valley Railway? I don’t think so!!!
In spite of the illusion I try to create on this blog, I have to admit I spend an unhealthy amount of time these days parked in front of a TV or iPad being subjected to endless episodes of Thomas and Friends (or Thomas the Tank Engine as us old duffers like to remember it).
I don’t really want to complain too much about this, because as kids’ TV shows go Thomas and Friends is pretty good – and Sonny’s absolutely obsessed by it. From memory “Choo Choo” is one of the first phrases he ever learned and the little maniac jumps to his feet for a little celebratory dance every time the Thomas theme tune comes on.
He nearly lost his marbles with excitement when we took him on his first train journey to London recently, so the obvious next step was a proper bells and whistles steam train. And luckily we have one just up the road at Nene Valley Railway!
The Nene Valley Railway runs from Yarwell to Peterborough and is exactly how you’d hope it would be: lots of smartly dressed gents with old-fashioned ticket machines, quaint Victorian station buildings, platforms flanked by highly-polished steam engines, and a proper station cafe at Wansford serving big mugs of coffee and sausage rolls with real sausages in them!
Even better than that, during school holidays they have a little blue engine called Thomas who trundles up and down the track and allows a delirious bunch of kids to meet and ride on their hero. From looking at these photos you’d think Sonny hated it, but apart from when he was grumpily posing for photos he was genuinely having the time of his life.
We watched Thomas chug into the station just after we arrived, bought our return tickets from Wansford to Yarwell (just £10 for all three of us!), settled into our private cabin and pulled out of the station on an awesome 30-minute round trip that finished with all of the kids jumping off the train and climbing into the engine room one-by-one to see the big coal fire and find out how real-life Thomas is operated.
Just before we pulled back into Wansford station, the conductor opened the door of our carriage to tell us that if we looked out of the window we would see the actual Flying Scotsman parked up in the train yard (see pic above). Luckily for all of us the national treasure had broken down in Cambridgeshire earlier that week and been shunted to the Nene Valley Railway for repairs. It meant nothing to Sonny but was pretty cool for the adults on board.
Wansford station has loads of cool stuff for train-loving kids to do, like old trains to climb around on and engine rooms where you can pull levers and open doors. There’s even a toy shop full of Thomas memorabilia and a little train-themed adventure playground.
We were only there a couple of hours but this is one of the most fun and memorable days out we’ve had as a family. I’ve already got my eye on the Big Thomas Adventure in May 2018 when the little blue fella is heading all the way into Peterborough. I reckon we’ll be there to cheer him on!