AD | PR trip*. Toot Toot! How did you celebrate Yorkshire Day this year? I went on one of the UK’s steam train trips that North Yorkshire Moors Railway run. It’s perhaps one of the most popular and well known steam train rides as the steam engine held the role of Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films. If you’re a Potterhead, this steam train experience is for you!
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
North Yorkshire Moors Railways is a trust run by volunteers. They operate a railway route that stretches between Pickering and Grosmont but during Covid-19 only shorter non-return journeys. The train ride I went on is between Pickering and Levisham. The other one runs between Grosmont and Goathland.
Pickering is a historic market town on the outskirts of the North York Moors National Park. It takes around an hour and a half to get to from Leeds, by car via York. Every Monday, Pickering holds its traditional market. They also have a 13th century castle worth visiting but they highlight for many train enthusiast is Pickering Station.
Pickering Station is a 1930’s train station replica, taking you back to the steam train era. It’s so pretty with a Victorian roof, a bridge over the platforms, wooden seating indoors and outdoors and a tea room. Many train enthusiasts gather around outside and on the platforms to see the steam engine in operation. They even follow the train by car to see the full train in motion. I got really excited and was so happy we actually had our own compartment booked out in one of the first class carriages to experience the ride first hand. There are just shy under 10 carriages hooked on and on the way to Levisham we sat at the front and coming back, we were at the rear. The steam engine is hooked off at the stations and transported to the end or front depending in which direction its steaming ahead next.
The route between Pickering and Levisham is around an hour in total and it went really fast. It was so nice to sit back and relax, enjoy the views and hear the steam engine operate. The toot toot sound is very high pitched so don’t be alarmed if it takes you by surprise now and again. The tea rooms at the stations are currently closed and no food service is available on the train but you are able to bring your own drinks and snacks.
Levisham Station is a small wooden train station from the early 1900’s. During special events and bank holiday weekends, the tea hut here is open for guests. As the station is surrounded by the national park, there are plenty of walks in the area.
If you live further up north or on the Yorkshire seaside, Grosmont might be easier to access. On the Grosmont route you loop around at Goathland Station which became Hogsmeade Station in the first Harry Potter film. It also has a cute tea room and like at Levisham, here you can go on nice walks in the national park. When the routes are properly open again and passengers are able to jump off at any station, I’d like to come back and experience more of North York Moors National Park.
North Yorkshire Moors Railway Timetable and Prices
The steam train trips run daily between 9.30 and 15.30, with trains departing every other half hour. Due to Covid-19 there aren’t any stops made along the way so each journey is a non-stop return, taking a total of an hour.
We had a compartment booked out in a first class carriage. It has room for six people in total, with big comfy seats. In first class you get both an armrest and headrest. In other compartments you might only get armrests or none of these features, leaving it as a long sofa. For a compartment up to six people, the price is £100. If you prefer a table seat you can book for either two or four people. The price is £40 for a duo and £80 for a family of four. On the last departure from Pickering (15.30), you can buy a single ticket for £25.
Tickets are only available online on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway website. There you’ll also find information about Covid-19 measures taken. You can only book in two week blocks in advance as NYMR is monitoring the situation and regulations.
Have you been on any of the UK’s steam train rides? I’ve been once before between Keighley and Haworth years ago when my mum came to visit. I think it’s great that there are still steam trains operating. Yes, they’re slow but it’s more about the experience compared to getting somewhere fast. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway steam train experience is a great day out. If you’re a family with kids, a train enthusiast, a Potterhead or someone who likes the outdoors and somethings outside the box, it’s full steam ahead!
*PR trip. I was invited along to the re-opening day of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and a free train ride for up to six people in a compartment in return for this blog post feature. All views, words and photos are my own.