Bank Holiday Monday marked the end of Muds’ week off and we had one last trip planned for the Mudlets. Having already visited an air museum and a road transport museum, this time we decided to visit the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway at Ludborough and have a ride in a carriage pulled by a steam train. Both girls were really looking forward to this particular outing, as they love trains. Middle Mudlet had actually driven a train (albeit a diesel engine) a few years ago, when we went on a rail tour run by the Appleby Frodingham Railway Preservation Society which operates on the railtracks that circumnavigate the Tata Steelworks in Scunthorpe. The engine driver did have to put a wooden box in the cab for her to stand on because being only 6 years old at the time, she wasn’t tall enough to see out of the window but, nonetheless, she drove the engine 50 foot in reverse and then back again and this was and probably still is, one of the best experiences of her young life, cementing her love of trains.
The station at Ludborough was actually situated a couple of miles out of the village, on the opposite side of the road to the village turn off and was easy to find and reach. We had to cross over the railway crossing to reach the car park which gave the girls their first glimpse of the station and the train they would be riding on.
A word to the wise here: the car park is a very large field with no spaces marked out on on it and whilst it was relatively empty when we arrived, by the time we left a couple of hours later, it was a little busier. We noticed that some of the cars had been parked with no thought or consideration for other drivers and many cars had effectively been blocked in, as not enough space had been left between the rows to allow cars to drive back out again. Thankfully Mud had foreseen this problem and had parked on the other side of the field, facing onto the access road, so we were able to drive off.
Driving onto the car park, the girls noticed two large scarecrows dressed in sporting attire. We weren’t entirely surprised as we knew that the railway were holding a scarecrow festival but we were slightly startled by the dress code. A couple more smaller, more traditionally dressed scarecrows were spotted on the way to the station and there were more large and small scarecrows dotted about the platform area. At the ticket office we were handed a competition entry form, titled ‘Name the Scarecrow Sport’ and we realised that we had to spot 10 of the larger scarecrows which were situated both at Ludborough and North Thoresby stations and say which sport they were dressed for.
We had intended to buy a Family Rover ticket for £18 but as it happened, all children were travelling free that day and so we only needed 2 adult returns which cost £7 each. Middle Mudlets smile was huge at the prospect of travelling on the train, even though the journey is only around 15 minutes long and it grew even larger when one of the station staff told her that the front carriage was a Harry Potter style carriage! Being a huge Harry Potter fan, this made Middle Mudlets’ day and she insisted that we sit in that particular carriage.
Before boarding the train, Mud bought 2 large teas and a couple of juice cartons and we each had a chocolate biscuit, for the princely sum of £6 which we thought was pretty good value (especially compared to the National Mining Museum prices of the previous day) and, unlike the British Rail horror stories of old, the tea was a nice brew as well. It came as no surprise to Mud and I when the girls headed all the way down the carriage corridor so that they could be seated as near to the engine as possible and then sat in the window seats. The compartments were a little more modern, relatively speaking, than those on the Hogwarts Express but Middle Mudlet was blissfully unaware of these differences and we were all charmed to see old fashioned suitcases in the overhead luggage racks.
“Can I close the door?” Middle Mudlet asked, intent on making the experience as Hogwarts like as she could but the door was a little stiff in its’ runners and it took the combined efforts of the girls to shut it. She then sat down with the most enormous grin on her face and waited for the train to set off.
Little Mudlet was sitting beside me with her back to the engine and isn’t quite as big a Harry Potter fan as her sister but she was still enjoying every second of the experience and I swear she could have put an owl to shame with the degree of bend she achieved in her neck as she peered out of the window to catch a glimpse of the engine when the train started to move off. Mind you I have to say that Mud was just as bad as the girls with a huge smile on his face. There really is something special about steam engines.
The train travels a short stretch of track between Ludborough and North Thoresby which travelling at a steady but slow pace, takes around 15 minutes to complete. North Thoresby is another lovely little station and as we pulled into it, the girls spotted more of the scarecrows but couldn’t quite see their numbers and so as soon as we had disembarked, they raced off to find out the numbers of the scarecrows and to decide which sport they were representing. With the scarecrow sports named and as it was a little chilly, we opted to get back onto the carriage for the journey back rather than go for a walk around and explore the village. I suspect that the fact that there was more rolling stock and the gift shop at the Ludborough station, also influenced the decision.
For the journey back Mud and the girls decided to stand by the window in the corridor to get a better look at the odd bits of rolling stock parked on the sidings, that they had fleetingly seen on the outward journey. I opted for the seated comfort of the compartment and watched and listen to the three of them discussing the things they were seeing. The journey ended all too soon for the girls and especially Middle Mudlet but the thought of a visit to the gift shop helped and we headed off to see what was on offer which, it turned out, wasn’t much for children the ages of our two. Most of the gifts for children were for younger children and after much deliberation and debate, the girls chose a job badge each (Station Master for Middle Mudlet, Engine Driver for her sister) as a small memento of the visit.
It’s also worth mentioning that at the very back of the shop is a small museum which Mud paid a visit to and found very interesting, as it contained models, photos, books etc relating to the railway.
Unfortunately the engine sheds weren’t open to visitors when we went but we were able to walk down a path at the side of the Buffet Car cafe which let us get a little closer to some of the stock we could see a bit further down the track from the station. The pathway enabled Mud to get a close up look at a very tired looking blue engine which it turned out, was actually a Swedish steam engine and also to get a better look at a diesel engine and some old rolling stock obviously waiting for restoration. Also the back door of the engine shed was slightly raised which gave a tantalising glimpse of something which we assume is being worked on or stored in there.
Once again we found this attraction to be good value for money and well worth the visit and plan to go back in a couple of weeks for the 1940’s event they are holding. So with trains, plains and automobiles covered, that just leaves boats …….