Aln Valley Railway

Star Travel Rating

4/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Aln Valley Railway

Date of travel

2014

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

Husband

Reasons for trip

In 1850 a rail line was constructed linking the market town of Alnwick, Northumberland with the picturesque seaside village of Alnmouth. Sadly the Beeching Cuts closed this railway in the 1960s. Today the line is being reconstructed and Steam is being brought back to Alnwick, creating a new visitor attraction.

The Aln Valley railway trust is in charge of this ambitious project costing many millions, funding being received through donations and fun raising.

We had often seen this attraction advertised and more recent advertising had told us that the construction was progressing well, so this week (July 2014) we decided to pay it a visit.

The rebuilding of this railway has been divided into four phases, currently Phase 1 is underway.

The original station for Alnwick could not be used as since the 1960's closure it has been turned into one of Alnwick's many attractions – Barter Books, so t was decided a new station would be built at Lionheart Enterprise Park, this station being named Lionheart Station.

When we visited, we parked the car in the large parking area (disabled blue badge parking is available). Car parking is free, Admission to The Aln Valley Railway are free (although rides there is a small charge if you wish to take a trip on one of the trains). Donations are welcome.

There is a small ticket office, an interesting railway museum, a Station shop selling a variety of train and railway related goods as well as local crafts, cards etc. We enjoyed coffee and cake in the café where there are new wooden tables, in a clean and tidy environment with friendly staff. Had we wanted to eat outside, there is an outdoor eating area at the rear of the café. The café also sells home baking to take away. There is also a model railway housed in another building (the model railway was closed on the day we visited).

We walked along the newly built platform and were able to go in and look around an old passenger train. There were a variety of steam trains to see. Rides were available at various times of the day, sadly we had just missed a train ride and due to appointments did not have time to wait until the next ride. The rides are just along a short piece of track – the track all the way to Alnmouth has yet to be constructed and is dependent on funds.

The aim of the project is to make it fully accessible to everyone, as I have some mobility issues this is of interest to me. Currently it is work in progress and although level access from the road, there is a large gravelled area – I managed to walk on but some may find the large gravel chunks a bit difficult. I was pleased to see that the buildings – the café, museum, shop, model railway all had railed ramped access. W.C.'s are level access. There is plenty of parking on site including blue badge car parking.

Many Plants were in bloom, creating a Station Garden area, again this is work in progress but as it is now is pleasing to the eye.

For cyclists the venue has links to the national cycle network.

The recreation of this railway involves wildlife conservation objectives.

It's opening times vary and can be obtained from the website by looking at the calendar which shows opening days, Steam operating days, Diesel Operating Days and Wickham operating days. It also shows special event days such as Classic/Vintage Rally's, Markets, Music Days, Teddy Bear Picnic Days, The website address is http://www.alnvalleyrailway.co.uk

The railway is located at Lionheart Enterprise Park, Alnwick. The Alnwick turn off is clearly signposted on the A1 and the railway is signposted on the road to Alnwick. For sat nav users the post code to use is NE66 2HT.

The town of Alnwick offers a lot for thie visitor with attractions such as The Alnwick Garden, Alnwick Castle, Barter Books, Baliffgate Museum and a host of specialised shops, cafes and restaurants as well as accommodation. I have written separate reviews on these attractions on this website.

Alnmouth to which the railway will be linked is one of the prettiest villages in North Northumberland. Alnmouth is already part of the national rail network (East Coast Rail and Cross Country Rail operating through Alnmouth to London and the South Coast as well as North to Scotland).

Although it is a long way from completion, North Northumberland's newest attraction offers an interesting opportunity for the railway enthusiast.

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