Freedom of the Line – Dining Along the River Severn

For Christmas 2013 Frank and I received a wonderful experience gift from my sister and brother-in-law. We were given the freedom of the line on the Severn Valley Railway and a dining voucher for two. I’ve always wanted to travel on the Orient Express but this seemed more within our reach! The Severn Valley Railway is a full-size standard-gauge railway line running regular, mainly steam-hauled, passenger trains between Kidderminster in Worcestershire and Bridgnorth in Shropshire, a distance of about sixteen miles.

The journey is full of interest, as the route follows closely the meandering course of the River Severn for most of the way on its journey between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth. One highlight of the trip is the crossing of the River Severn by means of the Victoria Bridge – a massive 200-foot single span, high above the water which, incidentally, features in the film ‘The Thirty-nine Steps’ with Robert Powell in the leading role. Trains have been a source of inspiration for writers for as long as they exist. The most famous being Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.

There being few roads in the Severn Valley, some of the views are only visible from the Railway. The scenery is varied and largely unspoiled, punctuated by the quaint ‘olde worlde’ charm of country stations, each one giving ready access to local villages and riverside walks.

A remarkable feature of the Railway not readily appreciated by visitors is that it is very largely run by unpaid volunteers, with a paid staff of around 70 people responsible for administration and commercial activities, plus regular track and rolling stock maintenance. Throughout the year, volunteers appear on the Railway to perform many tasks, including repairing and repainting stations, reconstruction of viaducts and bridges, and rebuilding locomotives and rolling stock not to mention the operation of the trains.

On the dining car we enjoyed a Jacques Tati type holiday atmosphere with jovial serving staff and passengers all enjoying a carefree day. The carriage aahhed in unison at the sight of a baby elephant gamboling in the safari park, not something you expect to see in the Worcestershire countryside!

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About susancarey

Writer and teacher living in Amsterdam. Trying to be mindful and occasionally succeeding!
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10 Responses to Freedom of the Line – Dining Along the River Severn

  1. Love this post! πŸ™‚

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  2. How long is this trip? Do they have internet access?

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  3. Sally Robinson says:

    Lovely blog! I can just imagine it all, especially with excellent piccies. Like Frank’s festive flowery shirt too! Went on a similar trip in S. Devon from Totnes to Buckfast Leigh with my granddaughter, then on to otters, butterflies, turtles, rare breed farm and cream tea. What a day! y brother may have worked on your line as a volunteer. Vicars do love trains!

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  4. susancarey says:

    Thanks for commenting, Sally. Sounds like you had a lovely time on the train in Devon. I had no idea of vicars and trains! Must be a story in there somewhere.

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  5. Sherri says:

    What a lovely day out, loved your photos. Will have to look into this! I too have dreams of going on the Orient Express πŸ˜‰

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  6. Martin Fraser says:

    What a lovely gift from your sister πŸ™‚ Looks like a magical wee journey in to a bygone era & thank you for sharing it with us …. Always love the idea of stepping back in time. The time & effort the volunteers put in to these projects is astounding & I guess we all should be eternally grateful πŸ™‚

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    • susancarey says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting πŸ™‚ Indeed, without the enthusiasm and hard work of volunteers this experience wouldn’t have been possible, it’s very humbling.

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