Audley End Miniature Railway, Essex| Family Days Out

“Choo choo.”  Imagine that on repeat and with an echo.  With two toddlers (Little London and his cousin) sitting in the back of my car I started to regret telling them that we were off to see some trains.

The excitement was brewing and they were eager to get out the car and just start playing.  And it was a place I knew they would love.  After all it was a magical place when my sister and I were little girls.  The Audley End Miniature Railway.

We parked the car and walked up to the gates, the boys hand in hand and jumping up and down as they glimpsed the steam engine pulling passengers around the outskirts of a huge green filled with people enjoying picnics.

First big fail for us a parents- we didn’t realise we could have brought a picnic!

The Audley End Miniature Railway is for those children with the beauty of innocence and belief still in them.  Those that believe in Father Christmas, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy and all those magical characters that slowly disappear over time.

An elf approached us while we were waiting to get our tickets to give the boys a woodland i-spy sheet and an Audley End pencil that could be made into a wand at one of their activity tables.

I really do appreciate that extra effort places take to keep children excited and focused.

With tickets bought and one toddler not far off a nap, we decided to get straight on the steam train.

The shiny red lacquered train pulled away from the train station and we started our one and a half mile journey around Lord Braybrooke’s gauge railway through private woodland.

The boys stared out into the woodland, spotting the variety of animals and stuffed toys while pointing and yelling out names.  They particularly liked the long tunnel stretches and found it amusing when it went from dark to light in a matter of seconds.

Whereas my sister and I fully appreciated the chance to get up close to a Second World War pill box and realised the water passing under one of the bridges was indeed the River Cam.

Once we returned to the station we were greeted once more by the cheery station master who asked the boys if they’d enjoyed themselves.  I think the big grins summed it up.

We decided to take the boys into the enchanted forest- the idea was to keep them moving to prevent Little London’s cousin from realising he was a tad overdue on his nap.

Second big fail for us- we forgot to bring his pram thinking he’d be ok in Little London’s pram.  That didn’t go down too well with Little London at all.  Toddlers don’t share possessions easily. 

Because of this we decided to forgo the wand making and face painting and just headed straight in to the walk with sparkly wings and wands purchased from the shop to help their imaginations flow.

This was post each of them having a slice of cafe bought homemade cake- we figured the sugar would keep them going and prevent any meltdowns from happening.

As our little fairies made their way around the forest they stopped and looked at each of the fairies and the little set up scenes that were dotted throughout the woods.

They enjoyed playing in the den making area and feeling the strips of material tickle their faces as they ran in and out of the den.

The walk was lovely, we were able to go at a nice sedate pace and be as involved as we wanted, all the while keeping a watchful eye on just how tired Little London’s cousin was getting.

We made it to the end without feeling rushed and spending a good amount of time in the forest watching our boys skip around calling themselves butterflies without a single meltdown (thank you cake!).

Before we decided to get back in the car and head home so the little one could nap.

Had we planned it better, we would have stayed all day.  If it wasn’t for the nap situation we easily could have because there is a cafe serving a variety of food including kids lunch boxes.  Although we would have really enjoyed planning ahead and bringing a picnic with us.

Plus with two bouncy castles, swing boats and a cute little playground the boys could easily have been entertained for hours.

With special events throughout the year stay posted because no doubt I’ll review one of those too 🙂

thelondonmum

66 Comments

  1. I remember going on a train like this when I was younger. It sounds like a good day out and the cake was the savior. It seems very entertaining for the children regardless, enough to wear them out lol x

    • Th boys loved the train, I think they could have gone on it all day long! lol

  2. Mini railways are always a winner with small kids. Sounds a lovely day out. Shame about the nap situation

  3. What a great day. I love the butterfly wings and love that your son is called Little London! What a cool blog name for him! 🙂

    • That’s just his blog nickname, although London would make quite a cool name for a kid! If Paris and Sydney cane names I reckon London can 😉

  4. Another energy unlimited post LondonMum with brilliant ‘on track’ photos. ‘L’ & I both thought - isn’t it great to see members of todays ‘baggy trousered nappy squad’ safely set loose & wobble off to enjoy just being exploring inquisitive boys stimulated by a magical environment without interfering ‘phone yet. Long may it continue! No wonder the poor guys didn’t nap - they’d miss too much magic! How could you forget their picnics ha? - I think you must have given them on tap ‘Red Bull’ train drinks to keep them going – didn’t need a buggy - the guys had ‘wiings!’ (sorry) – thought you’d need a nap after trying to keep up ha. Hope all’s well. Onwards LondonMum. 1842 ok?

    • I did need a nap! hahah shame I couldn’t have one. No I don’t think 1842 anymore not since the last fiasco. Let me think of something!

      • Agreed! You’ll never know how relieved I am to hear you say that LondonMum! OK - OVER TO YOU … but she’s loaded already –
        … with a glint in her eye, - she’s straining to fly. - Destination not clear, - but she’s no sense of fear. - With feathers now smartened, - she’ll fly ’till she’s pardoned. - All she needs now, – Is for the LondonMum, … to talk, … to the B+** - Ohhw, ran out of stanza! (Shakespeare-don’t you know.) Can you tell, I’ve had the day off while ‘L’s been slogging ‘for Queen, Country & Taxman’ haha?! – late hotel weekend gigs tho ha! Hope all’s well. Onwards LondonMum.

        • Day off! I’ve not heard of one of those in a long time!!! Get to working! hahah

      • You still “let me think of something??” – eagle on runway awaiting destination – not including Belfast haha! … B+WC swamped - so no more days off. Hope all’s well. Onwards LondonMum. “O”

        • Defintiely not Belfast!! I’m on a hunt for a new enclosure for the eagle to land lol.x

  5. This sounds like such a fun day out! I love the sound of that enchanted forest and your little fairies look so cute in their outfits. My two would absolutely love this place xx

    • I’m quite excited about taking my one to the Christmas event they hold. I think he’d love it!

  6. This sounds like such a lovely day out, I loved trains as a kid and always used to get excited going on them so can imagine how excited the boys must have been. Plus fairies and cake… What more do you need? xx

  7. Your photos are gorgeous as always! I love the boys fairy wings. Looks like you had a fantastic day. I’d love to read a photography tips post, I love your style x

    • That’s really sweet, I’ll have to see if I have any technical knowledge at all to write one. I kind of work off my camera in a way that drives my OH mad. He works in film so he knows all the technical phrases but for me it just sounds like nonsense, and when I try and explain to him my understanding he tells me I’m not right- but it’s just how I figure it out lol.

  8. This place looks amazing I know my 4 year old Son would love this as he is a huge fan of trains.

  9. Aw this is right up my boy’s street, he LOVES miniature railways, I wish it was a bit closer to us. We have the Ickenham Miniature Railway near us that runs on the first Sunday of each month, so if you’re ever in the Middlesex area, do check it out! xx

    • I’ll keep that unmanned! I think my little one would be happy if we could just go from train to train for the rest of our lives! lol. x

  10. What an absolutely magical kind of day! The train ride looks so cute, and then hunting for fairies…. I would love to do that myself!

    • Drag a friend with a kid because it is great fun for the adults too hahah x

    • They loved it, it’s great for them to spend time with each other as my nephew lives in Dubai. x

  11. This looks like a wonderful place to take the kids. I don’t think it’s too far either so may pop over sometime.

    • There are a couple of things in the area so it could make a fun day trip or stay over 🙂

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