There’s a magic about travel by steam train that appeals across the ages – from children captivated by the huffs, puffs and toots to older folk nostalgic for the romance of a bygone era. With its shiny steam engines, heritage carriages and picturesque stations, the Severn Valley Railway doesn’t disappoint.
The original Severn Valley Railway was closed in 1963 as part of national rail rationalisation, but it was subsequently bought and gradually restored by enthusiasts keen to preserve it for future generations. Running sixteen miles from Kidderminster in Worcestershire to Bridgnorth in Shropshire, the line meanders through the Severn Valley, often close to the River Severn itself (at one point crossing it on the impressive Victoria Bridge, high above the water). Those keen to explore the valley should get a “Freedom of the Line” ticket, which allows passengers to hop on and off. One stop definitely worth making is the recently opened Engine House visitor centre at Highley, where you can view the reserve locomotives, find out what it’s like to ride on the footplate (and pull the whistle!) or simply watch trains go by from the viewing platform.
The railway goes out of its way to make itself welcoming and accessible to those with limited mobility. Access at the main stations (Kidderminster, Bewdley, Highley and Bridgnorth) is good – all offer designated disabled parking spaces, and staff can point you to the most appropriate entrance/exit or way to cross the tracks when necessary. Ramps are available for boarding trains at most stops (excluding Country Park Halt and Northwood), and many of the trains have specially adapted carriages for wheelchair users, which come with fully accessible toilets (also available at Kidderminster and Bridgnorth stations, and in the Engine House). Assistance dogs are allowed to travel on the trains for free and large-print leaflets are available from the Bewdley ticket office.
Food & drink: Buffers Café Restaurant at the Engine House visitor centre serves well-priced light meals in an airy, bright space with a great view of passing trains and out over the Severn Valley. There’s also a trolley buffet service on the trains and another restaurant – Valley Suite – at Kidderminster Station.