The West Somerset Railway - one of the jewels in Somerset's crown
Nothing lets off steam better than the steam locomotives traveling along the West Somerset Railway (WSR)! A real jewel in Somerset's crown. 22.75 miles long, the longest standard gauge independent heritage railway in the United Kingdom.
It's a grand day out for all the family. Railway buffs will revel/bask in the variety of rolling stock, the original steam and diesel trains and all the carriages and wagons that abound. Children can soak up the atmosphere of real train noises, scents and action and everyone else can enjoy the calming delights of travelling through the beautiful countryside.
The WSR passes through 10 delightful stations, each with their own charm. Get on and off where ever you like, go all the way from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead or just enjoy a few stops. Each station is unique with something special about. There are walks, beaches, a harbour, museums, a castle and a mill - plenty of choice to suit all adventurers. The scenery is varied with the gently rolling Quantock hills and Exmoor in the distance, unspoilt villages and farms nestling in leafy lanes and the cliffs and coast of the Bristol Channel with views of South-Wales across the water. Confident Church Towers, Dunster's imposing Castle and Minehead's seaside charm are all waiting to be discovered.
Our perfect lazy day is to go to Blue Anchor, where there's the great Dirftwood Cafe (sorry, it doesn't take bookings, but has plenty of seating) just along from the station. Then we walk a little, all flat and easy, along the beach or the wide sea front paving and manage to squeeze in an ice cream before heading back to the train.
The Railway is a true country branch-line of the old Great Western Railway. It is full of fascination whether you are looking for a nostalgic ride back in time through lovely countryside or you wish to study the railway and industrial heritage which the line preserves. It originally opened in 1862 between Taunton and Watchet. In 1874 it was extended from Watchet to Minehead by the Minehead Railway. Although just a single line, improvements were needed in the first half of the twentieth century to accommodate the significant number of tourists who wished to travel to the Somerset coast. The line was closed by British Rail in 1971 and reopened in 1976 as a heritage line.
The other significant fact about the WSR is that it is almost completely run by volunteers, all there to help your day be even better. There is a sense of happiness along the line, the volunteers have smiles upon their faces and no question is too big or too small.
So if you want to experience "Letting off steam - big time" whist staying at TCB - go for it, you won't be disappointed.
There are toilets on each train. Disabled persons' accessible toilets are available at Bishops Lydeard, Crowcombe Heathfield, Stogumber, Watchet and Minehead stations. WSR can carry passengers in wheelchairs in their trains. Please see their accessibility page for more information.