We took a trip on the Spa Valley Railway’s Santa Special last weekend for the second year in a row and here’s how we got on……
The annual Santa Specials take place each year from the beginning of December until Christmas eve from Eridge Station to Tunbridge Wells on the Spa Valley Railway. Run solely by volunteers, the Spa Valley Railway hosts lots of other family friendly events throughout the year including ‘A Day out with Thomas’ (which I wrote about here), Easter Specials, a Teddy Bears Day Out and visits from Fireman Sam and Peppa Pig.
We were booked onto the 2.05pm train, so turned up half an hour early to spend some time getting Harry’s face painted and having a wander around the station.
There is a buffet carriage at the station and the little waiting room had a lovely festive feel to it with a cheerful Christmas tree by the traditional open fire.
The 2.05pm train was so popular that the Spa Valley Railway had to join up the buffet carriage to the front of the train to accommodate everyone – this is the carriage which we ended up in, which was completely different from last year where we were in an individual compartment.
There was a great atmosphere in our carriage and we were able to have a chat with the lovely volunteers who were helping out with the catering, where we were able to learn a bit more about history of the Spa Valley Railway.
The ‘balloon man’ started in our carriage and the boys were delighted with the sword (for Harry) and the parrot (for Ben) which he made for them.
Not long after leaving the station, Father Christmas and his elves arrived in our carriage and gave the boys their gifts.
Harry’s present was a train and transporter lorry which he has been playing with it ever since. He even took it to bed the other night!
There were several ‘reindeer’ planted along the train journey which we kept an eye out for and we enjoyed a nice cup of tea on the way to Tunbridge Wells. When we reached the station, we were one of the first to enter the Victorian Engine Shed, as we were in the front carriage.
The Engine Shed was also decorated in a very traditionally festive way and Harry was delighted to see Father Christmas sitting in his sleigh, waiting for the children to come up and get their photo taken with him.
We got our photo taken and then had a little look at the film which was showing in the old style cinema and had a go on the old penny machines. The model railway generated lots of interest from the little railway fans too and of course Harry wanted stop and have a look at all of the different trains on offer in the gift shop.
On the return journey, we were offered some warm mince pies and some donuts too! The children were given a chocolate lollypop (Harry) and a shortbread biscuit shaped like a train (Ben) so that kept them quiet for at least a few minutes.
All in all, our trip on the Spa Valley Railway’s Santa Special was a really traditional, festive family day out and a great way to spend an afternoon.
There are still a few tickets left on some of the dates in December. More information can be found on the Spa Valley Railway website here.