Tanfield Railway | Britain's Oldest Railway & a Picnic at Causey Arch

Step back in time to August 2012 and we visited Tanfield Railway to celebrate my mam's 50th birthday. We packed a picnic and really had a wonderful day - in fact, it's a day out we've talked about on many occasions since. I can't believe how little the kids look in this blog post and how quickly the years have flown by (alongside how much my blog has clearly improved since those early days).




Apart from a trip on the North Pole Express in 2014, Steve had never visited Tanfield Railway and my mam's husband, brother and nephew had yet to step foot aboard Britain's Oldest Railway at all so we made a plan to recreate our memories, and re-visit Tanfield Railway with a picnic six years later.


On non-event days, it's probably best to park up at St Andrew's House (postcode NE16 5ET). Parking is FREE. The X30 or X31 bus from Newcastle, Gateshead or Stanley stops by St Andrew's House if you'd like to visit using public transport. Before you visit, I'd recommend checking the online timetable online and make a brief plan. My plan was to leave St Andrew's House at 11:50am, visit Sunniside then go back on ourselves and jump off at Causey Arch at 12:16pm where we'd enjoy our picnic and a short walk.  Then we'd catch the 1:48pm train to East Tanfield where we'd spend 20 minutes or so before heading back to St Andrew's House at 2:15pm. If you buy a day ticket, you can jump on and off all day. Our plan worked perfectly and we managed to see the full railway and sheds in around 3 hours 15 minutes - you could easily spend longer here though.

Tanfield Railway | Britain's Oldest Railway & a Picnic at Causey Arch

Tanfield Railway is run by volunteers and they are always so lovely - from the helpers in the coffee shop to the drivers and ticket inspector, everyone had a smile on their face. You buy your tickets from the station - kids travel for £1 on certain dates (see website for details) so we spent £23 on a day ticket for the 5 of us. You can buy drinks, snacks, flags and toys from the coffee shop at St Andrew's House and they are all super reasonable - Capri Suns are only 60p for example.


Riding an old steam train really is an adventure. It feels as if you are stepping back in time and it's a lovely way to pass the time and spend time together as a family.


If you take a route to Sunniside, the engine will detach from the train, turn around, whizz past your window and attach again for the return route - this is always fun to watch.


As we stopped at Causey Arch, we jumped off and set up our picnic. It really is a gorgeous spot - next to the oldest single arch railway bridge in the whole entire world, a river (via steps) and a lovely woodland walk, it's stunning, especially on a sunny day.







After our picnic, we enjoyed a wonderful walk across the bridge, through the woods and down by the river. The kids ended up mucky as they climbed dirt tracks but they were having fun.





Tanfield Railway | Britain's Oldest Railway & a Picnic at Causey Arch - causey arch bridge

It was time for our train to return and a few photographers had set up at the station ready to get that perfect shot of the train pulling in. As we heard the whistle in the distance, we knew it was time and the excitement started growing.


Back aboard, we stopped off at East Tanfield this time. There are loos here and a little tearoom serving lots of treats and cream teas.

Tanfield Railway | Britain's Oldest Railway & a Picnic at Causey Arch - East Tanfield Station




As we waited at the station, the volunteers were setting up a carriage for afternoon tea (read about New Girl in Toon's experience of Afternoon Tea with Tanfield Railway here). Heidi pressed her nose against the carriages and asked why we weren't in first class! LOL! Maybe next time Heidi.......

Tanfield Railway | Britain's Oldest Railway & a Picnic at Causey Arch - afternoon tea carriage

Tanfield Railway | Britain's Oldest Railway & a Picnic at Causey Arch - Andrew's House

Back at St Andrew's House, we ended our day visiting the train sheds. You can see engines on display here as well as play with toy trains, enjoy a refreshment and read about the history of Tanfield and the trains in use.


Tanfield Railway | Britain's Oldest Railway & a Picnic at Causey Arch -train toys


No summer's day out is without a trip to a beer garden for me. The Black Horse Beamish is just up the road and perfect for an al fresco beer.

Tanfield Railway | Britain's Oldest Railway & a Picnic at Causey Arch - beer at The Black Horse Beamish

For £23, I feel like Tanfield Railway offered a fantastic day out for us - it was around half the price we paid to watch Incredibles 2 at the cinema the day before and is one of those days that can be enjoyed by the whole family.


NB - We paid for our own day out

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Tanfield Railway | Britain's Oldest Railway & a Picnic at Causey Arch


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2 comments

  1. Of course, we only ever travel First Class ;)

    Can't believe how many of you are packed into your carriage, what a great family adventure!

    We never actually jumped off the train on our visit (I never could have left my sandwiches!) so we need to go back and do some proper exploring!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha yep we all squeezed in! Definitely jump off next time x

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I always love reading your thoughts and comments - Sam x

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