We were lucky enough to be invited to visit the Epping Ongar Railway last weekend & we had a ball! Frankie, as you will know, loves anything with an engine, wheels & especially those that puff steam and ride on railway tracks and we also got to ride on old routemaster buses, so it really was his perfect day out!
It took us around 30 minutes to drive from Wickford to the Ongar station where we parked & collected our tickets from the booking office, I love getting physical tickets, they add to the experience & they’re perfect for sticking in Frankie’s scrapbook!
The train controller wholeheartedly apologised that due to lack of running staff that only the diesel engines would be running, which was disappointing but Frankie didn’t realise & it means we will have to come back again to experience the steam engines as well as the diesel engines!
There was a chalkboard detailing the timetable for the trains/buses so we hopped on our first train towards North Weald and Frankie loved waving out the windows past the houses in Blake Hall, the horses grazing in the fields and the scenery. The trains are comfortable too!
The ticket inspector was one of our highlights, we saw him on nearly every train we travelled on & he ensured we were happy and well informed and Frankie loved him punching our little ticket stubs, he made a Polar Express joke about cutting them into little birds as he does! & sports a fun hat with a train track on!
We got off at North Weald and had a walk around the gift shop where I bought Frankie a wooden train whistle (which we will ‘lose’ in the next few days).. and bought a drink and a cake from the refreshment coach parked in the station. We watched the brake train take off towards Epping Forest, which was a non-alighting service and a bus was coming along in the next 10 minutes, so we decided to wait and get on the bus for Epping.
Whilst we waited we played in the old red phonebox which Frankie found hilarious & then the big double decker route master came up the road and we boarded on!
We of course had to sit right at the front on the top deck and Frankie loved waving to all the people in North Weald and Epping high street! We passed the airfields too and were lucky enough to see some planes take off. It was so lovely to take Frankie on a ‘proper red bus!’.
We debated getting off in the high street for coffee & cake but Frankie was desperate to stay on the bus so that’s what we did! The conductor came upstairs & told Frankie he had a special job to help him with and let him roll the notice letting the public know where the bus was stopping next, which Frankie of course found wonderful!
Back at North Weald we got back onto a train towards Epping Forest & took in some more sights, the train we boarded even had a bar! Every coach we boarded was different and had pull down windows so the wind literally blew in our face the whole journeys!
Frankie watched in awe when the engineers on the tracks changed the couplings & direction and they gave a good show to all the visitors!
The best part of the day were all of the volunteers, from the gift shops, ticket offices & engineers are all so friendly and happy to stop and talk. It is extremely clear how passionate they are about their jobs on the railway and their personalities and friendly nature contributed to our lovely day out! They really are a credit to the Epping Ongar Railway!
We spent a good five hours travelling the tracks, different bus routes & sampling the cake in the refreshment trollies and we could of spent more! Next time I would love to plan ahead on the routemaster buses, I passed a softplay cafe in Ongar high street when we were on our way & lovely little tea and cake cafes in Epping so next time it would be great to make a whole day and hop on and off to experience breakfast, lunch & dinner too!
Our friendly conductor also informed us you can pick the bus up from Shenfield which is great as it’s on the Wickford train line & we could get the bus to the railway! Epping Ongar Railway – Visiting Timetable
I recommend the Epping Ongar Railway to EVERYONE of all ages! I’m already planning our next trip around Frankie’s birthday & plan to bring all the family along! It’s an ideal day out for families, something different to do with a lot of history!
They run seasonal events throughout the year including Easter, Halloween & Christmas trains, we will definently be going on the Santa Special this December! Epping Ongar Railway – Events
Station Approach, Chipping Ongar, Ongar CM5 9BN