The golden age of travel still exists in the UK, with heritage railway tours offering luxurious seating, top food and plenty to drink on a range of tours. The heritage trains range from diesel and special electrics, and the most eye-catching of them all, the steam trains.

(c) Railway Touring Company

While it’s fun to watch a steam train rushing past, but they can only do so if people are on board, so why not be one of those people in 2021? Be one of the people inside the train waving back as excited bystanders wave at you.

All things going well, by early Summer we’ll be out of the worst of the covid crisis, and many of us will be itching for a holiday break – so I’ve compiled a list of heritage train trips to choose from.

The tours vary a great deal from a chance to tour around the countryside in standard class heritage trains, through to a luxury restaurant on wheels. Personally, if you’re going for a special treat, try to go for the meals, as they really evoke the air of the upper-class golden age of travel at the turn of the 19th century.

After the year we’ve all had, a bit of pampering is richly deserved.

Prices start from £60 for an evening loop around London, though champagne dinners to week-long holidays.

(c) Belmond

And you don’t need to be a railway enthusiast to travel on heritage trains.

These tours are aimed at people seeking a nice day out, and most people travelling by heritage train are general interest travellers who come with their partners, family and friends.

Most of the day tours include a few hours at a notable town to visit and look around before heading home.

All tours listed below start and return to London, unless otherwise stated.

  • Loco type Mixed – part of the trip will be steam hauled, and part will be diesel or electric.
  • Loco type HST – restored Intercity 125 train
  • Covid – there are fewer seats being offered so they can space people along the train, and each operator has its rules for safe travel at the moment. I’ve started the list from April, as lockdowns are likely to be over by then.
  • Caveat Emptor – I’ve done the best to check details, but always go by the train tour operator’s website for the latest most up to date information.

8th AprilLondon to Highclere, Bath & Bristol£109Day tripLondon to BristolSteam

Date Tour name Prices from Duration Description Loco type

May 2021

2nd May Champagne Afternoon Tea £315 Afternoon Round trip via Surrey Unknown
4th May London to York £119 Day trip London to York Steam
6th May Historic Oxford £425 Day trip London to Oxford Unknown
6th May Blenheim Palace £425 Day trip London to Blenheim Palace Unknown
7th May The Shetlander £1,725 7 days London to the Shetland Islands Mixed
7th May The Golden Age Of Travel £395 Afternoon Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
15th May Champagne Afternoon Tea £315 Afternoon Round trip via Surrey Unknown
15th May Shrewsbury in Springtime £79.50 Day trip London to Shrewsbury Unknown
19th May Historic Bath £480 Day trip London to Bath Steam
20th May Surrey Hills with Flying Scotsman £109 Afternoon Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
20th May Surrey Hills with Flying Scotsman £99 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
22nd May The Edinburgh Explorer £99 Day trip London to Edinburgh HST
22nd May The Cumbrian Mountain Express £99 Day trip London to Settle & Carlisle Mixed
23rd May London to Oxford with Flying Scotsman £109 Day trip London to Oxford Steam
26th May Historic Bath £425 Day trip London to Bath Unknown
27th May The Cock O’the North £1,695 6 days London to northern Scotland Mixed
27th May Murder Mystery Lunch £340 Afternoon Round trip with a murder mystery twist Unknown
27th May London to Salisbury with Flying Scotsman £119 Day trip London to Salisbury Cathedral Steam

June 2021

1st June The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
4th June The Golden Age Of Travel £395 Afternoon Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
5th June The Buxton Spa Express £99 Day trip London to the Peak District Mixed
6th June London to Southampton with Flying Scotsman £119 Day trip London to Southampton Steam
7th June The Summer Highlander £1,530 6 days London to Scottish Highlands Mixed
8th June The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
12th June The Cotswold Venturer £99 Day trip London to Worcester Steam
15th June The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
16th June Historic Bath £425 Day trip London to Bath Unknown
17th June London to Cambridge with Flying Scotsman £109 Day trip London to Cambridge Steam
19th June The Derbyshire Rose £79.50 Day trip London to Chatsworth Unknown
19th June The White Rose £144 Day trip London to York Mixed
20th June London to Portsmouth & The Isle Of Wight £99 Day trip London to Portsmouth Steam
22nd June The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
25th June The Dinner £405 Evening Round trip Unknown
26th June The Golden Age Of Travel £340 Afternoon Round trip via Kent Unknown
26th June The Cumbrian Mountain Express £99 Day trip London to Settle & Carlisle Mixed
29th June The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
30th June Champagne Afternoon Tea £315 Afternoon Round trip via Surrey Unknown

July 2021

2nd July Murder Mystery Lunch £325 Afternoon Round trip with a murder mystery twist Unknown
3rd July The Bournemouth Express £99 Day trip London to Bournemouth Steam
5th July Tribute to the Bournemouth Belle £399 Day trip London to Bournemouth Steam
6th July The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
7th July Heart of Scotland £1,455 6 days London to Inverness and the Isle of Bute Mixed
8th July The Far North and Orkney £1,595 8 days London to northern Scotland Mixed
9th July The End of Southern Steam £99 Day trip London to Weymouth Mixed
9th July The Golden Age Of Travel £325 Afternoon Round trip via Kent Unknown
12th July Arran and Kintyre £1,695 6 days London to northwest Scotland Mixed
13th July The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
15th July The Golden Age Of Travel £340 Afternoon Round trip via Kent Unknown
16th July The Dinner £360 Evening Round trip Unknown
17th July The Cheshireman £99 Day trip London to Chester Steam
18th July Champagne Afternoon Tea £280 Afternoon Round trip via Surrey Unknown
18th July London to Salisbury £79 Day trip London to Salisbury Cathedral Steam
20th July The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
22nd July The Kentish Belle £99 Day trip London to Canterbury and Margate Steam
22nd July English Lake District £1,395 7 days London to the Lake District Mixed
24th July The Elizabethan £370 3 days London to Scotland Mixed
24th July The West Somerset Steam Express £99 Day trip London to the Quantock Hills Steam
24th July The Golden Age Of Travel £395 Afternoon Round trip via Surrey Hills Steam
26th July The Western Isles £2,099 8 days London to northwestern Scotland Mixed
27th July The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
30th July Glorious Goodwood £600 Day trip London to Goodwood Racecourse Unknown
31st July London to Weymouth £109 Day trip London to Weymouth Steam

August 2021

1st Aug Champagne Afternoon Tea £315 Afternoon Round trip via Surrey Unknown
3rd Aug The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
4th Aug Historic Oxford £425 Day trip London to Oxford Unknown
4th Aug Blenheim Palace £425 Day trip London to Blenheim Palace Unknown
5th Aug The Dorset Coast Express £99 Day trip London to Weymouth Steam
7th Aug The Aln Valley Venturer £98.50 Day trip London to Alnmouth via Newcastle Unknown
10th Aug The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
12th Aug The Far North and Orkney £1,595 8 days London to northern Scotland Mixed
14th Aug The West Somerset Steam Express £99 Day trip London to the Quantock Hills Steam
14th Aug The West Country Explorer £1,275 5 days London to the West Country Mixed
17th Aug The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
19th Aug The Dorset Coast Express £99 Day trip London to Weymouth Steam
20th Aug The Golden Age Of Travel £340 Afternoon Round trip via Kent Unknown
21st Aug The Cotswold Venturer £99 Day trip London to Worcester Steam
24th Aug The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
26th Aug The Cock O’the North £1,695 6 days London to northern Scotland Mixed
28th Aug London to Cambridge & Great Yarmouth £109 Day trip London to Great Yarmouth via Cambridge Steam
31st Aug The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam

September 2021

2nd Sept GBRf 2021 TBA 4 days Around the UK Diesel
2nd Sept The Dorset Coast Express £99 Day trip London to Weymouth Steam
3rd Sept The East Anglian £1,595 6 days London to East Anglia Mixed
3rd Sept The Golden Age Of Travel £340 Afternoon Round trip via Kent Unknown
8th Sept Severn Valley Enterprise £99 Day trip London to Kidderminster for a trip over the Severn Valley Railway Steam
8th Sept Champagne Afternoon Tea £315 Afternoon Round trip via Surrey Unknown
9th Sept The Swanage Belle £99 Day trip London to Southampton via Swanage Mixed
10th Sept The Golden Age Of Travel £395 Afternoon Round trip via Surrey Hills Steam
11th Sept The Golden Arrow £99 Day trip London to Canterbury and Dover Steam
13th Sept Devon Belle £370 2 days London to Devon coast Steam
13th Sept The Summer Highlander £1,530 6 days London to Inverness Mixed
14th Sept The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
16th Sept English Lake District £1,395 5 days London to the Lake District Mixed
17th Sept The Shetlander £1,725 7 days London to Shetland Islands Mixed
19th Sept London to Chichester & Goodwood Revival £89 Day trip London to Goodwood racecourse Steam
21st Sept The Sunset Steam Express £59 Evening Round trip via the Surrey Hills Steam
22nd Sept Historic Bath £425 Day trip London to Bath Unknown
22nd Sept Longleat £425 Day trip London to Longleat House Unknown
23rd Sept London to Highgrove, Lydney & Cardiff £119 Day trip London to Cardiff (and Highgrove) Steam
24th Sept The Dinner £405 Evening Round trip Unknown

October 2021

1st Oct The Golden Age Of Travel £340 Afternoon Round trip via Kent Unknown
6th Oct Bristol & Brunel’s SS Great Britain £500 Day trip London to Bristol Steam
6th Oct Historic Bath £500 Day trip London to Bath Steam
8th Oct Murder Mystery Lunch £340 Afternoon Round trip with a murder mystery twist Unknown
9th Oct The Settle & Carlisle Explorer £99 Day trip London to the Settle Viaduct HST
15th Oct The Dinner £405 Evening Round trip Unknown
16th Oct The Yorkshireman £99 Day trip London to York Mixed
20th Oct Historic Bath £425 Day trip London to Bath Unknown
29th Oct The Golden Age Of Travel £395 Afternoon Round trip via Surrey Hills Steam
30th Oct Champagne Afternoon Tea £315 Afternoon Round trip Unknown
30th Oct Blackpool Illuminations £99 Day trip London to Blackpool HST

November 2021

3rd Nov Historic Bath £425 Day trip London to Bath Unknown
12th Nov The Golden Age of Travel £340 Afternoon Round trip via Kent Unknown
14th Nov Champagne Afternoon Tea £315 Afternoon Round trip Unknown
19th Nov Murder Mystery Lunch £340 Afternoon Round trip with a murder mystery twist Unknown
20th Nov The Golden Age Of Travel £365 Day trip Round trip via Surrey Hills Steam
20th Nov The Cheshireman £99 Day trip London to Chester Steam
25th Nov The Christmas Sussex Belle £99 Day trip London to the Sussex coast Mixed
26th Nov Winchester Christmas Market £435 Day trip London to Winchester Unknown
27th Nov The York Yuletide Express £109 Day trip London to York Steam

December 2021

1st Dec Bath at Christmas £435 Day trip London to Bath Unknown
2nd Dec Christmas Lunch £420 Afternoon Round trip Steam
3rd Dec Festive Afternoon Tea £315 Afternoon Round trip Unknown
4th Dec The Lincoln Christmas Express £99 Day trip London to Lincoln Steam
4th Dec Christmas Lunch £380 Afternoon Round trip Unknown
5th Dec Christmas Lunch £380 Afternoon Round trip Unknown
7th Dec The Bath and Bristol Christmas Express £99 Day trip London to Bristol stopping at Bath Steam
7th Dec Canterbury Christmas Carols £435 Day trip London to Canterbury Unknown
8th Dec Christmas Lunch £380 Afternoon Round trip Unknown
9th Dec Salisbury Carols £435 Day trip London to Salisbury Unknown
10th Dec Christmas Lunch £380 Afternoon Round trip Unknown
11th Dec The Birmingham and Shrewsbury Christmas Express £99 Day trip London to Shrewsbury stopping at Birmingham Steam
11th Dec Christmas Lunch £420 Afternoon Round trip Steam
11th Dec The North Wales Coast Explorer £99 London to Crewe HST
16th Dec Canterbury Christmas Carols £435 Day trip London to Canterbury Unknown
17th Dec Christmas Lunch £380 Afternoon Round trip Unknown
17th Dec Christmas Lunch £375 Afternoon Round trip Steam
18th Dec The Christmas White Rose £109 Day trip London to York Steam
18th Dec Christmas Lunch £380 Afternoon Round trip Unknown
31st Dec New Year’s Eve Dinner £405 Evening Round trip Unknown

Incidentally, only one of the tour operators offers a search filter by departure town, which seems an odd omission, and made compiling this list considerably more onerous than it should have been.

There are also the many heritage lines that have their own dedicated railways around the UK to consider if you fancy those.

And finally, there’s a new regular steam shuttle running between London Waterloo and Windsor in the summer months.

List of UK heritage train tour operators

A1 Steam (Tornado)

Belmond British Pullman

Charity Railtours

GBRf Charity Railtours

Hastings Diesels

Intercity

Midland Pullman

Nenta Traintours

Northern Belle

Pathfinder Railtours

Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust

Rail Charter Services

Railway Touring Company

Retro Railtours

Royal Windsor Steam Express

Saltburn Railtours

Saphos Tours

Scottish Railway Preservation Society

Statesman

Steam Dreams

Sunset Steam Express

UK Railtours

Vintage trains

West Coast Railways

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2 comments
  1. JP says:

    Beats the late lamented Wallace Arnold hands down.
    A tour de force, cheers.
    Let’s hope any masks are only needed to prevent inhalation of smuts when inadvisedly hanging out the window.

  2. Dinah Green says:

    Thank you Ian very informative information and we will be booking up some trips. I was worried about hearing no coal for Steam locomotives and what was going to happen to all the Heritage lines.

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