The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway line is a heritage railway line which runs old diesel and steam engines. I’m not a train enthusiast, but the route sounded interesting, was easily accessible from Bradford (trains run regularly to Keighley direct from Bradford Forster Square) and included a stop at Haworth, somewhere I had visited before but was keen to return. Also, there’s just something pretty exciting about steam engines! As it was, the day out became one of the highlights of our long weekend in Bradford.
To make it a full day trip and to get the most out of your day I would recommend buying a Rover ticket. At £16 for an adult ticket they weren’t cheap considering the distance travelled, but offered the most flexibility and free entrance to two museums. We looked at a timetable the night before to work out how best to use our ticket, and how long we wanted to spend in each location along the line.
The day we went (a green timetable day) the first two trains were diesel engines and all those thereafter were steam. We decided to aim for the 11am train from Keighley, but arrived about an hour beforehand so that we could explore the town. While we were buying our tickets we noticed a 45 minute guided tour of Keighley leaflet, which I would recommend following if you make a similar decision! It was a good way to take in the town and we didn’t really feel like we’d missed anything by not staying longer.
We decided to get off at the first station stop, Ingrow West, where we had free access to two museums. I found the Carriage Works museum particularly interesting as over 60 TV and film productions have featured carriages from this museum. Each of the carriages was labelled to say what they had been in, and which stars had been filmed in them. You can also get inside most of the carriages and experience it for yourself.
The other museum was the Engine Shed Rail Story, where a range of exhibits create a story of the steam locomotive. We squeezed both museums into about 45 minutes so that we could catch the next train.
This was a little tight for time although they were small, but we didn’t want to spend over two hours there (which is why consulting the timetable the previous evening had been so useful!).
We then hopped onto our first steam engine of the day and continued on down the line. We skipped the next stop, Damems, which was a request stop only and the smallest full sized station in the UK. We alighted at Oakworth, a beautiful station which is kept as near to possible the condition it would have been in from 1905-1914.
Oakworth was used as the station in the 1970 film The Railway Children and is the start of the Railway Children Walk, which visits many of the film locations. We decided to walk between Oakworth and Haworth (the next station stop) which is meant to take about 30 minutes. We didn’t find the route particularly well marked and did get slightly lost meaning it took us a little bit longer, but it was nice to stretch our legs and take in the countryside.
Haworth is a lovely village which is well worth visiting (although beware – Main Street is very steep!), which is why we spent the longest amount of time here.
There are multiple pubs and cafes to choose from for your lunch, but do expect it to be busy! After a very large bowl of soup at Cobbles & Clay we headed up to the Brontë Parsonage Museum. I find the Brontë family very interesting, so was excited to return to the Parsonage in the year that celebrates the 200 year anniversary since Charlotte Brontë’s birth.
Over the next five years there will be Brontë 200 activities taking place so it is the perfect time to visit. The Charlotte Great and Small exhibition was on whilst we were there which “explores the contrast between the tiny things in Charlotte’s life and her huge ambitions”. It was a bit of an odd exhibition which appeared to display fictional items as fact, so make sure you read the literature which goes with the exhibits for it to make sense! After the Parsonage museum we enjoyed some time wandering round the village itself, which is home to several second-hand book shops and multiple independent retailers. The Apothecary and old fashioned sweet shop in particular are worth a visit!
There is only one stop after Haworth so we took the train to its terminus Oxenhope, and after watching the train get replenished with water, and the engine shuffle up to the front of the carriages again, we returned straight up the line to Keighley.
If you are in the area, I would thoroughly recommend a day trip along the line. We had a great time, and could easily have varied what we had done a bit more by doing a longer walk, or spending more or less time at different stops. There are events held throughout the year, and some trains include a Real Ale buffet car, so there really is something for everyone!