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Let off steam with the kids this summer

Press Release   •   Jul 14, 2017 10:32 BST

A trip on a steam train down to the Scottish Borders would be a hit with children this summer

STEAM trains have captured the attention and hearts of children for generations, from Thomas the Tank Engine to Polar Express, and now families looking for an extra special day can experience a piece of the magic in Scotland this summer.

Families can steam on down to the Scottish Borders every Sunday in August on a Black Five steam locomotive operated by the charity Scottish Railway Preservation Society. The special steam excursion will travel for the first time on a route that takes in two of Scotland’s Great Scenic Rail Routes – the Borders Railway and the Forth Rail Bridge, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.

The trip starts in Linlithgow before travelling over the Forth Rail Bridge and round the Fife coast before heading south on the Borders Railway to Tweedbank where visitors can enjoy a two-hour stopover.

And there are lots of things for little ones to see and do once they arrive in the Scottish Borders. Trips from Tweedbank Railway Station will visit Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott, as well as the historic towns of Melrose and Galashiels.

Family-friendly activities include:

  • Woodland safari at Abbotsford House – go on the hunt for wildlife, beasties and ‘aliens’ within the grounds of the historic house and visitor centre
  • Bring some crayons and take a texture rubbing of the ruins or plaques on display at Melrose Abbey said to bethe burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart.
  • Take a walk along the banks of the River Tweed, crossing the suspension bridge into Gattonside and enjoy lunch at Seasons restaurant
  • Take a walk to the Eildon Hills at Melrose and visit Rhymer’s Stone, a large stone inscribed with the legend of Thomas the Rhymer, a 13th-century Scottish laird with a reputation for prophesy and supernatural powers.
  • Enjoy a Cream Tea at The Abbeymill Tea room and explore the gift shop
  • Hop on the City Sightseeing Scottish Borders open-top bus, operated by Borders Buses, and explore the many historical attractions and stunning scenery including the William Wallace Statue and Scott’s View.
  • Let off some (more) steam at the playparks in nearby Scott Park in Galashiels or on the banks of the loch at Tweedbank.

VisitScotland Regional Director Paula Ward said: “Travelling by steam train on this excursion through Fife, across the Forth Road Bridge, Edinburgh and the scenic Borders Railway offers a truly unique and exciting experience for visitors and is sure to capture the hearts and minds of children.

“The Scottish Borders is a fantastic place for families and our most recent visitor survey found that the range of activities on offer is one of the main reasons for attracting visitors to the region*. This steam experience is sure to prove a hit with children and families alike looking for something special to share together this summer.”

The Forth Bridge and Borders Steam Special Experience will depart from Linlithgow every Sunday in August, picking up passengers at Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, Dalgety Bay and Edinburgh Waverley.

The return will be diesel-hauled from Tweedbank to Newcraighall, where the train will be turned on Niddrie triangle so that it can be steam-hauled for the remainder of the return journey.

The Black Five locomotive was designed by Sir William Stanier for the London, Midland & Scottish railway and a total of 842 were built between 1934 and 1951.

The trains will be operated by West Coast Railways.

For more information on the rail experiences and add-on ticketing offers to Abbotsford House, Melrose and Seasons in Gattonside, please visit:

For more information on Scotland’s Great Rail Journeys, visit:

For more information on family holidays and days out in Scotland, visit:


*32 per cent of respondents in the VisitScotland Visitor Survey cited the range of activities available in the area as the motivation to visit – more than double the national average of 14 per cent. The results of the survey can be found here:

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