Last week we were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to review the Wells and Walsingham Railway - a regular haunt of ours (outnumbered mum = living in a household of boys = I really can't replace the love of railways or any type of vehicle with fairies and shopping however hard I try!). I have visited Wells and Walsingham Railway on a yearly basis as we holiday there within a few miles a number of times a year and it remains a favourite with my boys. I have watched it remain in the dark ages and retain it's kind of 'quaintness'. However the last time we visited I did think it was beginning to look a little 'tired'. I was interested to learn that it is now under new ownership and already I can see a difference.
The station at Wells has maintained it's oldie-world-feel but at the same times appears a little more 'kept' and 'loved'. Simple things like a lick of paint make the world of difference. It's a basic station - a waiting room, benches on the platform and a cafe....which I loved. As well as the usual teas and coffees and kitkats, they also offered the most delicious looking cakes and my youngest loved the opportunity to have an ice cream of course whilst he waited for the train.
The train itself is a 10 1/4" guage (just in case you are a train buff and are reading this...or you are my 7 year old son) and apparently it's the longest of it's kind in the world.....in sleepy Norfolk! It runs from Wells-Nest-The-Sea to Walsingham, a little way in land. Wells is known for it's seaside resort although the station is a good 15 minute walk from the town centre. The train runs to Walsingham which is best described as a picturesque, on one hand sleepy but on the other hand rather busy small Norfolk village. It does get pretty busy at various times of the year as it is one of the best-known villages for pilgrimages - apparently over 300,000 people descend on this village every year so you can guarantee that there will be a touch of hustle and bustle of course.
We boarded the train at Wells and decided to go for an indoor carriage - largely as it was trying very
hard to rain. The train was packed from Wells to Walsingham, as you would perhaps expect in July, peak holiday season. We were travelling as a group of 5 but we all managed to sit together (4 and 1 pretty close by). The train was a mixture of people of different ages - from those of us with children to those who were retired. One addition to my last visit was a sign as we left the station saying that 42 species of wild flowers had been spotted along the tracks that day. My boys kept looking out for the flowers but we did listen to a more 'educated' (or should I say elderly) couple discussing the flowers as out journey progressed.
The train back from Walsingham was empty and we had a carriage to ourselves which was great - it also enabled me to take some better photos of course.
The boys loved the journey - I suppose their smiles will tell you that. There is something quite magical about train journeys and this journey inspired conversations about the magical world of Harry Potter and The Polar Express.