This is a delightfully relaxed ride on a railway run by a small team of dedicated volunteers.
Trains run between Ludborough and North Thoresby, on a two mile two mile stretch of the old Great Central Railway, which ran between Grimsby and Boston and closed in 1980. A small band of volunteers now run an hourly service on most Sundays during the summer and Bank Holiday Mondays.
We were pulled by a small NCB tank engine with four coaches. The countryside is fairly level with arable fields and hedges. The train doesn’t have to work very hard. Running time between the two stations is 15 minutes with a ten minute stop at North Thoresby and 20 minutes at Ludborough. For adults this may seem a bit tame but is just long enough for small children not to get bored. It is single track so the loco has to propel the coaches back to Ludborough. Coloured pencils and paper are put out on the tables in one coach for the children. Our box of pencils were either broken or blunt but a word with the young lass clipping tickets soon produced a pencil sharpener.
For the budding anoraks there is a signal box and level crossing at Ludborough. There is also access to the engine shed down a footpath beside the track past several locos and coaches awaiting attention. You can see into the engine shed but there is no admittance to passengers on days the engine is working. According to the timetable it is possible to visit the engine shed when they are not operating trains. Staff are working there on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Just before North Thoresby on the west side of the track is a small shed with platform to receive or hand out the token to the driver.
There was a high staff presence on the stations and train. Visitors to the signal box are welcome and loco men allow you on the footplate to have a look.
There is a large selection of reasonably priced second hand railway books for sale at Ludborough Station.
There is a restaurant room in a coach on a siding at Ludborough which serves hot and cold drinks, freshly made sandwiches and a selection of home made cakes. Today there was a choice of chocolate or coffee cake or Victoria sandwich. Portions were generous and not expensive. (For those wanting a hot meal the New Inn is a couple of minutes down the road at North Thoresby, but we’ve not been in there so can’t comment on the food or beer.)
This was our first visit and we hadn’t known what to expect. After the Severn Valley Railway, North York Moors Railway and Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, we had wondered if we might find this a bit tame. We were very pleasantly surprised. It was much better and more fun than we expected. It is very popular with families with small children. All staff were pleasant and helpful and determined to make it a great day out. Grandson rates it as 10*. Being realistic in comparison with the larger and more well know railways it doesn't merit 10* and adults might only rate it 6*. I've split the difference and given it 8*.
A day rover ticket is £7 for adults and £5 for senior citizens. Children from 3 upwards are £2.50 with a family runabout ticket for 2 adults and up to 4 children casting £18. We did three round trips.