Reviewed by Norman Ashworth
We have visited the Kirklees Light Railway at Clayton West, near Huddersfield, Yorkshire on a number of occasions, but this was our first time attending one of their special, themed days. Having a 4 year old who is somewhat mad on Thomas the Tank, and a 2 year old who finds most things interesting, we thought this would be a good day to take them on.
From following their Facebook page prior to the event, we knew the event was an almost sell out, and when we arrived, the usually ample car park was rather full. We did manage to find a space quickly enough, but we knew the event was going to be busy!
KLR is in a semi-rural setting, and the station at Clayton West has plenty of space for the children to run around. There is a large and interesting train themed adventure playground and a small train running around the duck pond at the station and a lovely cafe, and these are always open. Because we visited on The Day Out with Thomas day there was also a bouncy castle, donkey rides and some of the most talented face painters I have ever seen, all included in the ticket price. Although the event was very busy, the queues were all managed really well, and we didn’t have to wait long for any of the activities.
The main event of course was travelling between Clayton West and Shelley on the trains being pulled by Thomas’s friends, Percy and James. Our outbound journey was pulled by James; the journey of 25 minutes includes views of beautiful farmland complete with horses, cows etc…, a dark tunnel (wonderful for children) and the chance to wave to the passengers on their return journey.
When we arrived at Shelley station, the children were really excited to see another bouncy castle, a lovely area for us to have our picnic, a BBQ and rides along the sidings on Toby. We also watched James turn around on the turntable ready for his return journey. There was a craft tent with Thomas themed drawing and painting and the children both had Thomas tattoos put on their hands. Shelley station also has a lovely little tearoom and another adventure playground.
After an hour at Shelley, we decided that as it was so cold and windy, we’d head back to Clayton West. Had the day been warmer, we could have easily filled a couple of hours here. Our journey back was pulled by Percy, and the children found it just as magical as the outbound journey.
Back at Clayton West, we waited for our turn on Thomas, who was restricting himself to travelling with one carriage to the end of the platform and back to give everyone the opportunity to travel on and take photos of him. The Fat Controller, Sir Topham Hatt and his assistant were there with Thomas, providing Thomas-shaped biscuits and signed certificates to the children to prove they had ridden with Thomas.
The real icing on the cake of the wonderful day was the donkeys, face painting and bouncy castles. The kids were entertained from the moment we arrived to the moment we left (there were lots of complaining children who clearly didn’t want to leave), and we all had a thoroughly wonderful day.
I can thoroughly recommend the KLR for a day out even if it is not an event day as my wife, our two daughters (4 years and 2 years) and I had a wonderful day out. The only downside to our day out was outside KLR’s control, it was cold and very windy, but I didn’t notice any children complaining about it!
The next Day Out with Thomas event is 17-18 April 2014. Tickets cost £12 (adult), £10 (child), children under 2 are FREE, £42 (family – 2 adults, 2 children), £47 (family – 2 adults, 3 children). All prices are subject to a booking fee and postage fee if your tickets are being posted to you.
For more information or to book tickets visit www.kirkleeslightrailway.com.