Full steam ahead on board the Santa Specials

Santa special steam Train, Bo'ness, West Lothian, Scotland UK, Europe
Santa special steam Train, Bo'ness, West Lothian, Scotland UK, Europe

SO, you’re looking for a Christmas treat with a difference?

Well, here’s one that the kids are sure to be chuffed at – meet Santa on a steam train.

A certain Dr Beeching may have swung an axe that devastated Britain’s railway network in the 1960s, but over the past few decades, enthusiasts have lovingly restored many of those lines.

Heritage railways are booming, with scores from deepest Cornwall to the far north of Scotland.

They run through some of the most stunningly beautiful countryside in Britain and at this time of the year many of the lines get fabulously festive.

Here’s our pick of 10 of the best that will ensure you’re on the right track for a fun Christmassy day out for all the family.

Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway

This weekend sees the start of the line’s Santa Trains.

They run on Saturdays and Sundays between now and Dec 23.

A typical service will see four of the specials run from Bo’ness starting at 10.30am.

Santa is aboard each, handing out gifts to each of the young passengers.

Both adult and child fares are £14.30.

Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway

Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway

One of the longest narrow gauge railways, it’s a seven-mile run from Ravenglass in the Lake District National Park.

The Santa Express runs at weekends from next Saturday with the chance to meet Santa and explore his Dalegarth grotto.

All kids get a gift. Adults £19.95, kids £12.65.

North Yorks Railway

North Yorks Moors Railway

The NYMR Santa Special departures are from Pickering and Grosmont stations, each lasting about 75 minutes.

Kids get a present when they meet Santa in his grotto on the train as it puffs over the moors.

Meanwhile, the adults get mince pies, a hot drink and a glass of something stronger.

Adults and kids £21.

Epping Ongar Railway

Epping Ongar Railway

Things kick off at North Weald station with a festive food stall and a brass band before crossing the glittery footbridge to board the train.

There are entertainers on board, as well as Santa, who will be handing out the presents.

Prices between £17.50 and £20 depending on the day.

Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway


Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

Stunning Lake Windermere is the backdrop for the Santa Express which starts on Saturday.

The 90-minute journey in a decorated carriage includes carol singing, a panto atmosphere and presents!

The final run is on Dec 17, tickets cost £13.

South Tynedale Railway

South Tynedale Railway

From Alston, the line runs through some of the Pennines’ most beautiful scenery.

Thousands enjoy a step back in time each year with a steam train trip and the chance to see Santa in his grotto and get a present.

The trains run on limited days from Dec 9, tickets £13.

Llangollen Railway

Llangollen Railway

The Welsh heritage railway starts its Santa Specials next Saturday.

The train runs from Llangollen – renamed Lapland for the days – to Carrog.

Gifts for the kids and a mice pie and tipple for the adults. Adults and kids both £18. There is a Christmas Eve, which costs £23.

Strathspey Railway (Sandy McCook)

Strathspey Railway

The Santa Express 2017 has also just started running on the popular Highland railway with stations at Aviemore, Boat of Garten and Broomhill.

Each journey – there are two each weekend – lasts two hours and children get to meet the man himself and get a present.

Meanwhile the adults can sip mulled wine and some festive food.

Adults are £22 and kids £16.


Keighley & Worth Valley Railway

Keighley & Worth Valley Railway

Jump on one of the carriages pulled by an iconic locomotive for the Santa Steam Specials which started running this weekend.

It’s so popular that, like many of the lines, there is limited availability on some services with Christmas Eve already sold out.

Santa and his pixies hand out gifts during the 10-mile return journey.

East Lancashire Railway

East Lancashire Railway

Take a steam train ride to Rawtenstall and back through the lovely Irwell valley.

There’s a brass band and carol singing on the ever-popular Santa Specials.

Each child gets a gift from Santa, biscuit and juice, while the adults get a mince pie and a festive tipple.

There’s even more fun to be had with an on-board magician.

They’ve just started for the season again this weekend. Prices start at £14.80.