We were looking for something unusual to do on our holiday in Norfolk, something we hadn’t done before. A forty minute drive from where we were staying was Holt Station, one of the points on the North Norfolk Railway, so what better opportunity to ride a steam train?
We had to book our tickets the night before our journey to secure a compartment on the steam train. Compartments seat four people, but you can purchase two extra adult or child tickets if required. At £20 each way, this option is particularly cost effective if travelling as a group of four or more. For us, two adults with a baby and a dog, we had to stomach the £42 fee. A carriage ride would be much cheaper, but you don’t have the novelty of the locomotive.
Although the website prompts you to travel from Sheringham to Holt, we decided to do it the other way. Holt Station is a mile or so from the town centre, which meant that we would be rushing during our visit. Holt Station is actually quite easy to miss. We approached along the A148 from the east, following brown signposts to the station. I’d searched Google Maps and couldn’t work out how to reach the car park, but had a gut feeling to keep left as we turned into Cromer Road. Do that, and you’ll find yourself pulling into the station grounds – turn right at the tracks, and the car park is there.
Walking into the station was like a step back in time. There were cute little vintage touches like lanterns and a post box, which I imagine were probably original features, but I couldn’t be sure. It was certainly cool to walk alongside the tracks before reaching the station properly and watch the steam train pull in to the platform.
We waited patiently for the passengers to disembark before we were allowed through the ticket office, and had a chat with the lovely staff working there. All the men there were kind and enthusiastic, clearly enjoying themselves. In almost no time, we were loaded onto our compartment at the rear of the train and were ready to leave, although Ted and Baby had absolutely no idea what was going on.
The compartment reminded me of the Hogwarts Express. It was surrounded by wood panelling, and there were two seats facing each other either side of the window. I imagined I was in the 1930s, and was reminded of the book I read earlier in the year – I wondered how much the train in Stamboul Train looked like the one we were on. It would probably be much bigger. We took a seat and waited to move; the springs in the seats were well worn but not uncomfortable.
With a toot on the whistle, we edged away from the platform. It took a few minutes for us to pick up speed then we were chugging through the green Norfolk countryside. I tried to absorb the sights and sounds as much as I could while holding a child on my lap, but it wasn’t an unpleasant experience. We soon reached Weyburn Station, which I believe the North Norfolk steam train would stop at pre-pandemic.
No one was allowed to disembark, but we still stopped to wait for the carriage that took visitors between Holt and Sheringham to pass. This gave us an opportunity to really have a look at the station. I loved the red brick building and the wooden features, but my favourite was the iron filigree style triangle things that held up the roof of the station building – probably the most attractive station building I’d ever seen.
And in no time, we were back on the road, or tracks, towards Sheringham. The air started to become lighter and fresher as we passed the golf course, so we knew we were close to the town.
Sheringham, in North Norfolk, is a traditional seaside town, which ebbs English holiday vibes. There is an award winning blue flag beach, cafes, restaurants, museums, arcades, and a fascinating 19th century water well on the very road from the station to the beach. After an hour or so in Cromer, which is just next door, I must admit I much preferred Sherringham.
The first thing we had to do when we arrived was cross the old railway lines to wander through the town. We only had a short amount of time in the town, and were pretty hungry so we decided to walk down to see the beach, and keep an eye out for for somewhere to eat on the way. The station was quiet, but the town, or at least the road to the beach was busy!
The most popular shops seemed to be the butcher’s and the ice cream shops, but the cafes seemed rammed with customers – not surprising since it was a very warm Tuesday lunchtime in June. I was a little worried we wouldn’t be able to find anywhere to eat, so we rushed to the beach for a quick look then made our way back.
We passed a large pub called The Lobster, which had fresh, white walls, so I thought it would be a good option. They say never judge a book by its cover, but I’m always bias towards places that look good on the outside. It was lucky we arrived when we did too – there was one available bench in the pub garden, and soon after we arrived, two other couples were turned away. The staff members offered us a high chair for the baby, and we ordered a couple of wraps with drinks, which arrived quickly, much to our delight!
The Lobster was also the first place I ever changed a baby’s nappy in public, so I can vouch for the baby changing facilities available in the ladies’ loo, even if it was a little cramped.
We made our way back to Sheringham Station, took an opportunity to look through the gift shop, and had to purchase a magnet for our collection – sad acts, us! Then we were ushered through to the platform, tastefully decorated with hanging baskets of pink and red flowers, and waited for our train to take us home.
So, if you’re ever in Norfolk, and fancy a ride on a steam train, I would definitely recommend the North Norfolk Railway.
Did you like this post? Why not let me know what you thought by leaving me a comment below? Or, if you want to keep up to date with new posts and any other travel ideas or thoughts I might have, you could follow me on Twitter or Instagram instead.