AD – We were gifted tickets to attend a Santa Special at the Watercress Line for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are my own.

Review Santa Special at the Watercress Line:  Both boys are huge steam train fans. When we visited Thomas at the Watercress Line in the Summer it really ignited something in Kipper. So when we were asked to try out their Santa Special I of course said yes please. I was hoping for Father Christmas experience which was as much for the parents as for the kids. At three Kipper can be a bit of a handful so I also hoped by being seated on a train would mean that we would get to enjoy it to!

On the website it recommends arriving at least forty five minutes early for your train. Part of the reason for this is because the parking at Arlesford gets very busy. Even though there are over 100 spaces! When we arrived for the 2.15pm train the carpark was full. A very helpful parking attendant directed us to the local school. Where they have arranged overflow parking. He also told us the best way to walk back. I was a little dubious as it seemed like a good drive away. However by following the footpath as suggested it only took about five minutes to walk to the station.

We were greeted by one of the Station masters and directed to the buffet cafe to warm up. I recommend the hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. It wasn’t long before the train was ready to board. All of the staff are volunteers and go through the train before your board to clear up after the previous ride. It was spotless when we sat down. Your ticket is also your seat number which I think is a great idea. As it saves any jostling and means that you all get to sit together.

Each table has colouring set up for the children to keep them entertained before the train gets going. Its a really nice touch which Kipper really enjoyed. Once we are away the adults are served a generous glass of white wine with a mince pie. The boys got the choice between apple juice and black currant and a gingerbread man. Which I can only assume it was delicious since they were both devoured in record time. One of the entertainers appeared to tell us some jokes and get us singing along to funny Christmas songs. With the carriages decked out in the same way as the platforms with giant strings of tinsel and bells it all felt very festive.

We paused at Ropely station to pick up a very important visitor. This is a great idea since it means there is no risk of the children seeing him before hand. Followed by a band of merry elves he comes down the carriages one by one. Stopping at each set of four and engaging with the kids. Both boys got high fives! They were also given an age appropriate gift. Both boys were delighted with their gifts. I was also very impressed. Both came in little Watercress Line drawstring bags. Monkey received a wooden pencil case, colouring pencils, a wooden 12 inch ruler and pencil sharpener. All of them had trains on, and the train on the ruler moves up and down so you can mark your place. Kipper received a wooden skittles table top game. Which he thought was simply excellent. As we left the station later he said:

Mama I loved my surprise today …my Santa gift its brilliant

Once Santa had visited we reached the end of the line at Four Marks, we could get off the train and have a look as the engine turning round. There is a bridge at the end of the platform which gives little ones a great view. It was nice to see the Santa Special plate on the front. There is a small museum, refreshment shop (if you need anything more) and toilets at the station. It takes about twenty minutes for the engine to change ends. Back on the train Santa worked his way back down again posing for photos. Which was a nice touch and also allowed kids that were a little nervous another chance to interact.

We were then joined by some jovial singers to sing some Christmas carols. It wasn’t long before we were pulling back into Arelsford Station. The whole journey and experience took just over an hour. It was a very relaxed way to see the big man and we all had a great time. I think its the first Christmas event we have been to with boys boys where I haven’t ended up feeling frazzled. All the staff were so helpful and polite. Giving up their time at such a busy time of year to bring joy to many families should not go forgotten. Without the volunteers it really wouldn’t be possible.

Tickets cost £18 each including booking fee, under 1s are £10. Which for what you get  is fantastic value. Trains are running at various times throughout the day on weekends in December. You can find out more on their website although they are so very popular many are already sold out. Contact them for more information. I am certain we will be back for more it was such a great way to see Santa.


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Review Santa Special at the Watercress Line


  1. Priscilla Stubbs Reply

    The Santa Special sounds like a great day out with lots of fun for the family. It is reasonably priced too

  2. Ruth Harwood Reply

    looks so much fun, enjoyment for the whole family! Always love taking the kids to see santa xx

  3. What a lovely day out my daughter would of loved this when she was younger

  4. A very decent price! A local shop is charging 18.00 to sit with Santa and colour for half an hour – you do get a gift (97p selection box) but still – £18!

  5. Debbie Skerten Reply

    The Watercress Line has been going for so long and it’s so lovely. i took my daughter when she was a little girl and now we’ll start to take my Granddaughter. So happy you had such a lovely time. Beautiful photographs too x

  6. A really fabulous day out for the children at a very reasonable price, too. The gifts look excellent. Thanks for the review.

  7. Teresa Sheldon Reply

    Lovely photos , it looks a beautiful trip and on a steam train to see Santa just so magical I thought the prices were very reasonable too

  8. Anthea Holloway Reply

    I love the Watercress Line and so do the children! The scenery is stunning too. What a lovely trip this is.

  9. Arabella Bazley Reply

    We keep meaning to get on the steam trains on the watercress line but as yet have never got round to it. This is surprising as the other half is a huge steam train fan (what male is not) and I keep finding bits of train and vintage tin train toys appearing miraculously at home. The price does seem ilke a bargain when you consider all the love and effort of everyone to keep these trains running. The dedicated volunteers are a credit to the nation.

  10. Laura Norcop Reply

    What a fantastic attraction. I love wooden toys so it’s lovely they made such an effort with gifts and it wasn’t just plastic heading straight for the bin. The santa looks really good too 🙂 wish this was closer to us as it looks absolutely brilliant x

  11. Nigel Soper Reply

    I quite miss visiting steam rains since our boys got too old to admit they were interested. I suppose I’ll have to wait another ten years for grandchildren to go back.

  12. Shelley Jessup Reply

    I am hoping to take Evie on something like this when she is a little older it looks so much festive fun.

  13. What a fabulous day out for all the family. I love travelling by train and I think kids will really enjoy the combination of train and Santa related activities.

  14. It looks like a great day out. Christmas trips usually leave me frazzled too so it’s nice to hear of a relaxing one! Love their Christmas jumpers too!

  15. catherine santiago jose Reply

    This sounds like an awesome place, perfect for family bonding and I am sure everyone will really have a lot of fun most especially the kids,

  16. Carly Belsey Reply

    Aw this is a fun day – we did this too a couple of years ago but local to where I live in Kent. It was so much fun but when we got to Father Christmas, he was a little bit skinny lol

  17. Charlene Merrall Reply

    This looks so lovely, I love the station its so cute. Wish I was nearer!

  18. Gerri Tennant Reply

    I took my daughter on a similar trip when she was about five. She still remembers it vividly and says how much she loved it and she is 36 now!

  19. Debbie Clarke Reply

    Looks like a lot of festive fun. Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas

  20. Emma England Reply

    Looks Like the kids had a fantastic time. I think the price is extremely reasonable for what you get!

  21. Lyndsey Cooksey Reply

    What a lovely, Christmas adventure! There’s always something magical about trains at Christmas. The photos are brilliant, they capture the moments perfectly

  22. OMG this experience must have been so magical for your little man!! I cannot wait for experiences like this for when my son is old enough to remember them!

  23. Erik the Hungry Traveller Reply

    The station reminds me of Hogwarts! They made the place so cozy and cheery. Kudos to them and happy holidays to you and your family.

  24. Mijia Eggers Reply

    This is a nice excursion for the family! I always run out of ideas where to go with my kid on the weekends. This could be a quite good idea.

  25. This looks like a lot of fun! I know kids will love this. Seeing Santa is always an amazing experience.

  26. What a wonderful experience! It’s so thoughtful that Santa gets on at a different stop, so that children don’t see him beforehand.

  27. What a fun adventure! My kids would love this opportunity to ride a train and see Santa.

  28. Celebrate Woman Today Reply

    THis is such an intensly amazing trip! Never been there, but now I know about its history and facts. Fascinating.

  29. Jeanette Leighton Reply

    Looks like a great day , my 3 year old would probably enjoy but I think my 7 year old might run away from santa lol

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