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 www.scottsabbotsford.com
- 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: http://www.srps.org.uk/railtours/rt-170806.htm
For more information on Scotland’s Great Rail Journeys, visit: www.visitscotland.com/see-do/tours/railway/great-rail-journeys/
For more information on family holidays and days out in Scotland, visit: https://www.visitscotland.com/holidays-breaks/family/
*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: http://www.visitscotland.org/research_and_statistics/visitor_research/all_markets/scotland_visitor_survey.aspx
Notes to Editors
- Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
- VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
- The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
- This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
- Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
- Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
- Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
- Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
- Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
- Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
- Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
- To ensure everyone can safely enjoy Scotland’s amazing countryside and landscapes, VisitScotland encourages all visitors to fully respect their surroundings by behaving in a responsible and appropriate way.
- VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
- The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
- Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
- The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit www.gov.scot or follow @scotgovESIF
- For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
- Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh) 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
- 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
- For more information visit visitscotland.com/HHA2017 or join the conversation at #HHA2017