We’ve wanted to go on the Bluebell Railway for a long time now, but never seemed to time it right. We finally went on New Year’s Eve, driving down to Sheffield Park where it starts, making it with minutes to spare.
From Carshalton to Sheffield Park on a good day it takes an hour, which isn’t bad at all – we bought tickets for the Fairy Godmother Specials (£17.50 per adult, £9.00 per child – slightly more than a standard all-line return), which gives you third class seats plus you get a mince pie and are served drinks. After a crazy end of year I was more than happy to sit down, watch the world go by and drink a glass of white wine.
For H’s ticket she got a pack of smarties, a balloon character made (Tigger!) and a little bag with a toy lion in it which was lovely.
The journey there and back took around two hours, and it was good to switch off and take in the Sussex countryside.
Afterwards we decided to head up the road to Sheffield Park, a National Trust place we’ve never visited. Our main purpose was to grab some food, and then spend their last hour open of 2015 wandering around the grounds. They had a trail which immediately appealed to H, looking for various wicker sculptures (A Winter’s Trail) around the grounds – so once we had eaten we headed out – and it was fairly easy to do in an hour.
One sculpture had blown away, but otherwise there were eight sculptures of varying designs dotted around the grounds which H loved finding (as well as stopping to splash in a few puddles). Sheffield Park is a landscape garden with much of the layout and design coming from Capability Brown, who worked on a few gardens and houses we’ve been to.
Sheffield Park has many lakes, joined together with interesting bridges, walkways, paths and gardens. You can hear the whistle from the Bluebell Railway from time to time as you walk around, but most of all you can breathe; the fresh, crisp country air is all around you.
We arrived at Sheffield Park train station for the 12.15 train, and left Sheffield Park National Trust at 4pm – and could have stayed for longer too!