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Many of Britain's heritage railways are currently enjoying a revival, with popular events such as 'Day Out With Thomas', afternoon teas, luxury dining, murder-mystery events, and real-ale train rides.
There are even 'santa specials' in December, giving little ones the chance to meet the big man himself.
Take to the railways for a fun day out, whatever the weather.
Formerly part of Britain's national rail network between the towns of Alton and Alresford, this heritage steam railway is now operated by dedicated volunteers. It runs between four stations which have all been carefully restored to their former glory.
Some of the most popular dates on the Watercress Line are the annual 'Day Out With Thomas' events – giving fans a chance to 'meet' heroes from Thomas & Friends. This fun family day gives children and adults alike the opportunity to enjoy rides on carriages pulled by character steam and diesel trains including Thomas, Percy and Spencer. There are also static displays, refreshments, picnic areas, miniature railway rides, face-painting, competitions and even a chance to meet the ‘Fat Controller’ – Sir Topham Hatt,.
If you or your little ones love the friendly blue train, why not book tickets for the next event and make a weekend of it? Hotels and guesthouses near the four Watercress Line stations include:
If you're looking for a more grown-up rail experience, why not take a ride on the Real Ale Train, which runs from March to December, enjoy a weekend of military nostalgia, or try a luxury dining experience.
Find out more about exploring Britain's spectacular coastline by steam train.
The AA has published several books celebrating Britain's railway heritage. Visit the AA Shop to find out more.
Check out our other inspirational ideas for days out and weekend breaks.
...plan your trip with the AA Route Planner, stock your car with essential accessories from the AA Shop, and check for traffic blackspots before you leave with AA Roadwatch. Find the best places to eat, drink and sleep, and check out our brilliant travel guides.
Updated July 2012