Abbeydale Miniature Railway

The 'burbs

Abbeydale Road South, S17 3LB

Open two Sundays a month March-October 1-5pm, £1.50 per ride. Santa Specials 11am-4pm, £8.

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Abbeydale Miniature Railway is pure Sheffield: one-off, surprising and a real hidden gem. Tucked away in ancient woodland off Abbeydale Road South (near Dore train station), you’re sure to have driven past the railway many times, but maybe never have dreamt of what lies beyond.

Run entirely by the Sheffield and District Society for Model and Experimental Engineers, the railway is one of the city’s best family days out.

If you haven’t visited a miniature railway before, let me fill you in: you sit astride a small steam (or diesel) train, which whizzes you round a track. Abbeydale is home to both ground-level dual, and raised multi-gauge track; two stations, two level crossings, two footbridges and a whole host of steam-powered locomotives. If you close your eyes for a second, it's not hard to imagine you could actually have stepped into a Steam Age Lilliput.

Kids love it. Adults have a ball too. When it’s time to take a tea break from riding the locos, plentiful well-priced refreshments are available. The woodland setting is just lush and volunteers there couldn’t be more helpful.

Highlights of the miniature railway year include the Teddy Bears' Picnic, which runs in August and raises funds for Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity, and their Santa Specials, which feature steam, Santa and shortbread: how can you go wrong?

You can tell that the society running the railway are a dedicated team. There’s a lot of effort that goes on behind the scenes to restore and maintain engines, plus they work with the local community and schools.

Abbeydale Miniature Railway opens two Sundays a month (and the odd bank holiday Monday) between March and October, and in December for Santa Specials. You can park on the field next to the railway, weather-permitting. Failing that, try Dore station’s car park.

I may be a parent, but I am no vintage transport enthusiast. Yet a day spent hopping on and off miniature engines transported me to somewhere else entirely: to my childhood and beyond.

2017 timetable:

9 July – open day & exhibition
23 July
6 August – Teddy Beats' Picnic
27 August
28 August – bank holiday
10 September
24 September
8 October
22 October
3 & 10 December – Santa Specials (buy a ticket in advance)

Written by Joanne Mateer; May 26, 2016
Illustration by Glenn Thornley.