Yorkshire By Steam Train | Darren's Experience

Darren, one of our cruise specialists, was invited to join Great Rail Journeys on a ‘Yorkshire by Steam’ tour to experience the product for himself. Read all about his experience below…

Arriving in Harrogate on the 13th October for Great Rail Journeys’ “Yorkshire by steam” Tour I really did not know what to expect. I’m most definitely not a rail buff by any means and I was not sure if I would enjoy the tour or be bored to tears by the experience. Nevertheless I arrived with an open mind!

I made my way to the Holiday Inn (one of the 4 hotels Great Rail use for their tours in this area). The hotel was a typical Holiday Inn; the staff were very pleasant and the rooms were well furnished. The first night we strolled across to the Cedar Court hotel (another hotel used by Great Rail), a prestigious four star hotel, for a quick tour followed by dinner! This hotel, unlike the Holiday Inn, is steeped in history and the rooms are well furnished complete with modern amenities.

After a leisurely breakfast the next day we set out to Harrogate station for our train to York. On arrival in York we were met by a local guide who took us on a two-hour guided tour of York. It had been a long time since I last visited York and was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful this ancient city is. It was fascinating to hear the history of the various settlers over the years.


After lunch we took a coach to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway which included a visit to the Ingrow Museum. The museum is fascinating and the volunteers working there do a fantastic job. We set out on our railway journey from Keighley to Oxenhope on a small diesel train through the beautiful countryside, past the place where the Railway Children was filmed in the 70’s - it looked like time had stood still here, or as though we had gone back in time! A point worth mentioning is that all the stations we passed were run by volunteers, a lot of whom were young boys and girls, all dressed in uniform it was good to see that this tradition is being passed down the generations. We ended the day with a very English afternoon tea and cake and a visit to the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, home of the famous Bronte sisters.

On our last day we took a coach to Whitby where we had some free time, before heading to North Yorkshire Moors Rail Station for a steam train journey to Pickering. This was definitely the highlight of the tour!

York Steam Train

The journey took in some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. We were fortunate to be passing through at the start of the “Wartime and 1940’s Weekend” - All of the stations were being transformed back to how they looked in the 1940’s with the staff all wearing wartime uniforms and clothes. It was like stepping back in time and I could not believe the amount of people arriving from all over the country for this weekend.

York Minster

We were short of time when we arrived in Pickering, but we did squeeze in afternoon tea and scones in a delightful little tea house, before heading back to the train station for our train home.

Reflecting on the trip, I must stress that this tour is not just for railway enthusiasts. It is a fascinating look at the past, a welcome reminder of times gone by and can be enjoyed by all. 

Great Rail Journeys are the UK’s leading provider of rail holidays and I can certainly see why; the tour was well organised, the hotel manager, Beverly, was great and you have the flexibility to do as you please when you arrive in destinations – you can choose to take an escorted tour, as seen in the itineraries, or you can explore in your own time (keeping in mind the given time to return to the meeting point). The average group size is typically between 30 – 35 people, made up of singles, couples and friends travelling together. Be aware that Great Rail holidays tend to involve a certain amount of walking, steps and stairs and some of their excursions include activities which require a reasonable level of fitness and mobility.

Great Rail provide holidays both in the UK and abroad, including River Cruise holidays by rail!

If you have any questions or would like to hear more about Great Rail Journeys, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

Darren Hilsdon
Tel: 01253 340649
Email: Darren@thecruisevillage.com