Day Out with the Kids: Kent and East Sussex Railway: Tenterden Steam Train Review

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August 2023

We were fortunate to bag a free National Trust family day pass – hopefully you saw me share the offer on my Facebook page! So we decided to pair it with a trip on the Kent and East Sussex Railway, or Tenterden Steam Train as we call it, (with their kids go free offer) and make a day of it visiting Bodiam Castle.

What’s it like?

Tenterden Steam Train brings back such fond memories for me – we lived nearby when I was a child so we often visited the station to watch the trains, or took the same journey we went on with our children to Bodiam Castle for a picnic.

bodiam kent east sussex railway station, train on platform, steam train

It hasn’t changed much at all, and has certainly retained the history of the station and the trains itself. If your kids are into trains (mine seem to love all vehicles!) then it’s a sweet day out.

bodiam, tenterden, kent east sussex railway station, steam train, frugal mum children on train

Unfortunately, on the day that we visited, there weren’t any steam trains but we enjoyed our trip on the diesel train all the same. The line is 10.5 miles long, and it takes around 50 minutes to reach Bodiam from Tenterden Station, with Northiam Station in between.

bodiam, tenterden, kent east sussex railway station, steam train map, route

At the station, when collecting our tickets, they gave us a ‘things to look out for’ sheet which kept the kids busy on the journey – keeping their eyes peeled for certain animals etc. The journey itself is through beautiful countryside, making it an enjoyable ride for all ages.

bodiam, tenterden, kent east sussex railway station, steam train, view from train, field

Despite its picturesque exterior, Bodiam Castle is more ruins than castle as the interior is largely just remains. Whilst there’s not a huge amount to see or do, it is a beautiful setting and a lovely place to have relaxing picnic. With it being just a short walk along a roadside pathway from Bodiam Train Station, it definitely goes well with a trip on the train! For more info, check out: East Sussex with Kids: Bodiam Castle Review, National Trust.

bodiam castle, national trust


What facilities are there?

There are toilets, a railway museum and a lovely tea room at Tenterden Station (if you need any refreshments). They often run events too so that’s something to look out for – there’s a popular 1940s weekend, ‘Steam Up’ Gala, Teddy Bears picnics, Fish & Chip supper trains and, later in the year, Santa Specials.

bodiam, tenterden, kent east sussex railway station, steam train, train at platform

The weekend that we visited they had free buses running, from a wide range of eras, to local areas. The timetable varies, as does which trains are available, so take a look on their website to see what’s on offer when you plan to travel.

Locally, in Tenterden, there’s a high-street with shops and restaurants, a swimming pool and a great play park if you’re looking for other things to do in the area too.


How much is it?

This summer, K&ESR are offering free travel for kids aged 3-15 (when booked online) – hence why we thought it would be a great time to travel!

Here’s their current price list: (Accurate August 2023)

bodiam, tenterden, kent east sussex railway station, steam train, price list

Events, trips with food and special days will likely cost more – so make sure that you check their website before you plan your day out. It’s not a cheap activity, but if you look out for offers (like kids travelling free) then it can be much more affordable.

Make sure you pre-book online too – it’ll save you a few pounds per ticket compared with the prices at the station ticket office. It’s certainly not something that we would do often, but if your little ones love a trip on the train then it’s a lovely treat – there’s definitely something special about it!

bodiam, tenterden, kent east sussex railway station, steam train, frugal mum children posing with sign


Useful information for your visit…


Pets:  Dogs welcome on standard trips to Bodiam

Parking:  Yes, free

Facilities:  Cafe, toilets, gift shop

Address: Tenterden Town Station, TN30 6HE

For up-to-date opening times and prices, please check their website.


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