The Kent & East Sussex Railway is perfect for a summer staycation

·3-min read
Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images

With the weather warming up and travel around the country allowed again, we’ve been brainstorming activities for our summer staycations.

Here at Country Living we’re big fans of rail adventures, and Britain is teeming with fun experiences, from the scenic Bluebell Railway in Sussex to the epic Fort William to Mallaig line in the Scottish Highlands, and the vertigo-inducing Mount Snowdon train in Wales.

This summer we’re particularly excited about the Kent & East Sussex Railway, which promises a blissful day out in the sun, stopping off at quaint rural stations and soaking up the amazing landscapes of the Rother Valley and High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

RIDE THE RAILWAY WITH CL

Fancy a ride on this magnificent railway when it reopens from 22nd May? Read on to find out all about the Kent & East Sussex Railway.

Where does the Kent & East Sussex Railway start and end?

The Kent & East Sussex Railway runs 10½ miles, from the market town of Tenterden near Ashford in Kent, to Bodiam, a small village in East Sussex, famous for its quintessential English castle. The whole journey takes around 50 minutes.

Photo credit: Loop Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Loop Images - Getty Images

Why is the Kent & East Sussex Railway so special?

Step aboard the KESR and you’ll immediately feel like you’ve travelled back in time, thanks to beautifully restored carriages dating back to Victorian times. The staff dress impeccably in smart period outfits to conjure up that nostalgic feeling.

Apart from the picturesque views of golden fields and pretty woodland on this cross-county ride, the line is known for being the very first (and finest) ‘light railway’ to be constructed.

Photo credit: Education Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Education Images - Getty Images

Light railways are for steep terrain and offer a slower pace of travel, allowing full-size trains to wind their way through the Kentish countryside.

How old are the carriages?

Rail enthusiasts will be pleased to know that this heritage railway owns a unique collection of trains, some of which are nearly 150 years old - but still going strong! These include the nostalgic Terrier steam locomotive, classic steam locomotive "Northiam" and the historic dining cars of the Wealden Pullman.

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Many of the carriages feature old-fashioned family compartments, with plenty of space for passengers to relax and enjoy the rural scenes out the windows. With the added luxury of drinks and dining, the Wealden Pullman is the perfect way to celebrate in style on this picturesque route.

What else can I do on a day out on the Kent & East Sussex Railway?

Don’t miss the lovely Railway Museum, where you can learn about the entrepreneur who constructed and operated the railway, Colonel Stephens. You can also discover how the railway was preserved in the Model Railway Room, popular with kids and rail enthusiasts.

The museum is free to visit and easy to find, located at Tenterden Town Station, on the edge of High Weald.

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To make the most of your sunny day out, why not download some of the railway’s Rail Trail maps and get off to explore the countryside?

If you prefer the town, saunter around Tenterden’s independent shops and pick up a coffee, cake, or a souvenir from the gift shop. Whatever your preference, you’re sure to have a charming day out on the Kent & Sussex Railway.

Where can I stay nearby?

Great hotels near the Kent & East Sussex Railway include Bodiam’s adorable Hobbit House holiday home, or the traditional White Lion in Tenterden.

If you feel like making a proper holiday out of it, look no further than our historic homes and railways tour of Kent and Canterbury this summer.

Photo credit: Booking.com
Photo credit: Booking.com

On a five-day break with Country Living, you can soak up beautiful scenery on nostalgic train rides including the Kent and Sussex Railway, the Canterbury and East Kent Railway and the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. You’ll also have the chance to visit both Leeds Castle and Walmer Castle.

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