We have been on many preserved railways and this has to be one of the best. The countryside is... read more
We have been on many preserved railways and this has to be one of the best. The countryside is... read more
The cream tea special service runs on one Sunday a month over the summer as an addition to the... read more
Having read previous reviews regarding complaints about families being split up, we were apprehensive. 3 of us went on the Polar express ride in standard class. I read their website carefully about the seating policy and telephoned them to confirm it. I was told that as a family of 3 we would definitely be sat together at one table and that depending if the train was full, we would more than likely have another person (the 5th member of another party) sat with us. Thats fine as long as we are sat together! Collected tickets from station and got on train, only to discover they had split us up! They put me with another family of 3 and left my wife and 5 year old daughter with another couple who hadn't turned up yet. I sat down with my wife and daughter and almost instantly a girl dressed as a chef appeared from nowhere and without any apology said snottily "you cant sit there". Tried to reason with her but was getting nowhere as the staff had clearly been briefed about what to say to people with seating issues.They must tell their staff to just keep repeating "you cant sit there these seats are reserved for another family" and then hope we will just go away and put up with it (like most would do). I got off the train and explained the issue at the ticket office and was...Having read previous reviews regarding complaints about families being split up, we were apprehensive. 3 of us went on the Polar express ride in standard class. I read their website carefully about the seating policy and telephoned them to confirm it. I was told that as a family of 3 we would definitely be sat together at one table and that depending if the train was full, we would more than likely have another person (the 5th member of another party) sat with us. Thats fine as long as we are sat together! Collected tickets from station and got on train, only to discover they had split us up! They put me with another family of 3 and left my wife and 5 year old daughter with another couple who hadn't turned up yet. I sat down with my wife and daughter and almost instantly a girl dressed as a chef appeared from nowhere and without any apology said snottily "you cant sit there". Tried to reason with her but was getting nowhere as the staff had clearly been briefed about what to say to people with seating issues.They must tell their staff to just keep repeating "you cant sit there these seats are reserved for another family" and then hope we will just go away and put up with it (like most would do). I got off the train and explained the issue at the ticket office and was told "sorry nothing to do with us we don't handle the bookings". I got back on the train and as the seats opposite my wife and daughter still hadn't been taken, I sat down again and within a flash the same girl appeared again and said the same thing as if on autopilot! Without any help or involvement from any staff we sorted our own seating arrangement out as the couple who had been given seats at our table did not have children with them and agreed to swap seats. Just pleased that we did not pay grossly inflated prices for premium seating as I overheard comments when leaving that people had also been split up in their carriages, when they were also supposedly guaranteed seats together. It appears (as stated in other reviewers comments) that they just cram in as many people in as possible with little regard to seating arrangements.....Re the actual ride, don't expect too much and then you wont be disappointed. The "north pole" can only be seen from one side of the train and as the carriage lights were not dimmed, its difficult to see if you are on the other side of the train due to the reflections etc..The actors are good and Father Christmas makes a point of listening to what children are saying and makes them feel special. Dont pay the premium prices for the sake of a polar express mug as they sell them in the marquee next to the station. Overall I would have given it 3 stars, however it gets 1 star due to the seating issues. I e mailed them about their seating policy but got no response. Didn't really expect a response as previous reviewers state the same. Once they have got your money they dont care. I suggest that you collect your tickets early and check them asap. If you are split up just kick up a fuss before you get on train which they wont like.... or just sit together and don't move. If everyone does that they may start to actually listening to what people are saying and start putting things right instead of just making as much money as possible.MoreShow less
We took the 1968 one-coach diesel to Bishop Auckland and waited there for 20 minutes just to come back again! It is a slow, genteel and very beautiful journey with a delightful ticket collector who acts as a tour guide supplying fabulous information and anecdotal stories.
It was all very nostalgic and we had the advantage of a blue sky day helping show off lovely autumn colours and bright green fields.
Travelling on the last Wednesday in October stunning autumnal woodland colours and a nostalgic trip through Weardale.
We arrived early and had a 'poke' of chips and a pot of tea in the station cafe.
On the train we sat directly behind the driver's compartment. With rear views all the way to Witton and driver views on the way back to Stanhope.
Journey enhanced by a lovely chat from Brian the ticket collector - like all the volunteers immaculately turned out in proper uniforms.
A simply lovely afternoon, thanks
Our party was 3 adults and a 3 year old. We booked tickets online as a group of 4 but the way seating is allocated is NUTS. This was in the VIP (whatever that means) area. The seating is difficult to explain but i'll try; imagine a train carriage with a table for 4 then the aisle and then another table but only for 2. Well our party of 4 was split across the tables for 2; this meant one adult with our daughter and then other adults.
If you're going to book, phone up or this can happen to you. Luckily we got to swap with another 2 who had their family of 4 across the aisle from us.
The train smells damp and foisty. Its old and part of the "magic" though but give it a few sprays of pine or something.
The hot chocolate is cheap as it gets powdered rubbish and its boiling hot water not milk.
The cookie is cheap manufactured rubbish too. It was just on the ok side of stale.
The elfs give it their best shot but its all a bit cheap Butlines type entertainment really. Not their fault by any means.
"Christmas town" is literally a cardboard cut out of the North Pole and you just drive past it with some elves dancing and Santa waving. Then you go back. You don't get out or anything like that, its literally up and down a train track.
Then Santa does a walk around the carriages and chats to the kids, gives them an awful cheap medal and you keep a rubbish mug.
Even for our little girl, it was really bad. They'd tried to put out the bare minimum to avoid mass complaints and refunds in my opinion. The only reason its not 1 star is the people who work their put the effort in and try their best.
I'd avoid it and tell anyone who asked me to the same.
did the whole journey which is lovely and very scenic the guard on board was very entertaining and informative . we had a drink and snack from the tea room before the journey and it was excellent
I really believed this event wouldn't take place again this year as it was an awful experience and not worth the money. As it is now being advertised I felt I had to do this belated review from a trip last Christmas.
For a start ......I booked my tickets on the first day the tickets became available which I believed was for The Polar Express . I had been constantly messaging via Facebook for a number of months asking when tickets to the Polar Express were going to be released and when I booked the Facebook page showed the Polar Express on the main page (not train to Christmas town).
Once the tickets were booked I noticed that very quickly the page changed to ‘a train to Christmas Town’ I contacted the company again via Facebook messenger and via the comments underneath the change in profile picture asking if possible to get a refund as I believed when booking it was Polar Express. (Which I had good reports on). I didn’t receive a reply, I also tried to ring but as tickets had just been released call volumes were high.
As a family we discussed what we should do and decided to go still (as we had heard good reports about Polar Express).
Unfortunately we made the wrong decision
The tickets were £39 per adult & £29 per child (we paid a total of £156) which was absolutely appalling for the experience provided!
Where do I start?!
The train was disappointingly decorated.
The elf we had didn’t really seem to know what he was doing with the songs....words , dance etc (which were very uneventful in themselves).
The hot chocolate was luke warm, watery and powdery, disgusting and undrinkable..
The cookie tasted of nothing but sugar.
The mugs were naff and cheap quality.
The present from Santa was totally inadequate, cheap rubbish (what is a child going to do with a medal?!) the bell from the Polar Express ride which had been given in the past was far superior!
And the story!!!!
Our party was a mum, dad, 2 children and 2 nanas. The children were 7 & 10. Both were very upset as it made them think about if their Nanas got ill and died.....no more Christmas trips, no more nana fun etc etc. It was totally depressing and just before Christmas as well .....totally inappropriate storyline for a Christmas trip for children not a bit like the Polar Express story which is a feel good story...and ends up happy and makes everyone believe..or want to!!!!!
I sent a complaint to the company listing all my grievances and requesting a refund but they didn't even have the courtesy to acknowledge my complaint either by email, letter or phone
I for one will not be booking this year and advise anyone who is to think carefully before doing so as you and your children may be very disappointed as my family were.
Travelled from Bishop Auckland West (not to be confused with Bishop Auckland national rail station) to Stanhope and return in a 1958 heritage single diesel railcar. Wonderful views through the large windows to the side and front. Very enthusiastic and helpful volunteer crew on board. Lovely café at Stanhope station. Highly recommended day out
We have been on many preserved railways and this has to be one of the best. The countryside is beautiful and the ticket prices very reasonable. Good luck to them.
Take the time to have a scone on the platform at Stanhope railway station! A perfect balance of sugar/salt/fruit, and offered with butter, jam and cream.
Go and try one!
The cream tea special service runs on one Sunday a month over the summer as an addition to the scheduled services. The first class coach was spacious and comfortable, a nice touch of luxury, and the staff were very friendly and made a fuss of the children in our family group. The cream tea is just that: a scone with butter, clotted cream and jam with "unlimited" tea and coffee. The scones were home made and tasty but it's best to be aware that the "unlimited" teas and coffees are served on the outward part of the 2 hour (total) journey only, so make sure that you get your refills before the train sets off back! Unlike the scheduled services, the train does not run all the way through to Bishop Auckland but stops on the Etherley Viaduct to admire the view before returning to Stanhope.
All in all, an enjoyable leisurely trip through attractive countryside and a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon with the family.
The Weardale Railway is a Heritage Railway running from the Town of Bishop Auckland to Stanhope, County Durham. It passes through several scenic towns and villages. Services have recently resumed the full length of the Line after a Landslide was stabilised.
At the time of writing, train services operate on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and on Bank Holiday Mondays.
There are two trains from Bishop Auckland to Stanhope and return, and a return trip from Stanhope to Witton-le-Wear.
Fares are realistic and good value, especially the Day Rover ticket offering unlimited travel.
The times and Tickets Costs are shown in the photograph.
All in all it's a good day out for Individual travellers or Families, general visitors or Railway enthusiasts.