In The Know

FAQ

FAQ

We hope this page answers everything you could want to know and more, however if you think something is missing, let us know!

Getting here

Where is the railway?

The railway is located in Moors Valley Country Park near Ringwood, minutes from the western edge of the New Forest.

The park is approximately 20 minutes drive from Bournemouth and Christchurch, and 40 minutes from Salisbury and Southampton.

How do I get to the railway?

See the Find Us page for information about how to get to the country park and to the railway on your arrival.

Lakeside Station is approximately 130m from the Moors Valley Visitor Centre and Kingsmere Station is approximately 450m. There is level access to both stations.

Where can I park for the railway?

There is no dedicated parking for the railway. Please use the main country park car park.

There is no admission charge to Moors Valley, however vehicle charges apply. More information can be found on the Moors Valley website.

Opening times

When is the railway open?

The railway is open on weekends and Dorset school holidays throughout the year, and daily from June to mid-September. See the timetable for daily opening times.

How often do trains depart?

Trains depart at frequent, regular intervals throughout the day. On the busiest days, we typically run 3 trains simultaneously.

Are both stations always open?

At quiet times, only Lakeside Station may be open and only round (return) trips will be available.

When are the first and last trains of the day?

The first train of the day will depart Kingsmere at 10:45 and Lakeside at approximately 11:00.

If it is a particularly quiet morning, the train may wait for a short time at Kingsmere for more passengers, but will depart once passengers arrive, or if passengers join the queue at Lakeside so they can be picked up.

The last train of the day will depart Kingsmere at either 16:00, 16:30 or 17:00 depending on the daily opening times.

An announcement will be played over the tannoy a few minutes prior to departure, and the train will carry a special headboard.

On extremely rare occasions, the railway may close early if the weather is particularly bad. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates.

Tickets

How much are tickets?

Where can I buy tickets?

Tickets can be purchased at the Kingsmere Station Shop (located near Moors Valley Golf and Activity Centre) and Lakeside Station Kiosk (near the Moors Valley Visitor Centre).

Can I pay by cash/card?

Both stations accept payment by cash and credit/debit card.

Do I need to pre-book tickets?

With the exception of Santa Specials, tickets do not need to be pre-booked and you can just show up on the day.

Do I need to buy tickets for a certain train/time?

Other than by exception for certain special events, you do not need to buy tickets for a particular train/time.

Do I need to keep my tickets?

Please keep your tickets if you are making a return journey or splitting your trip as they will need to be clipped again.

Tickets are clipped before boarding the train at either station, and on the train at Lakeside if you are staying on for a return journey.

Rover tickets will be clipped once on your first journey, and just need to be shown to the guard on subsequent trips.

I have a return ticket. Can I stay on the train?

If you start your journey at Kingsmere, you can stay on the train once it reaches Lakeside. Please have your tickets ready as they will be clipped again before the return journey.

If you start your journey at Lakeside, you must disembark and change platforms at Kingsmere to rejoin the train. You can reach the other platform by going over the footbridge and through the waiting room.

Please keep your tickets with you as they will need to be clipped again on your return.

Can I get my tickets refunded?

Tickets cannot be refunded once they have been clipped.

The journey

How long does a ride last?

A return journey takes around 20 minutes and is just over a mile long.

The trip from Kingsmere to Lakeside takes approximately 10 minutes.

Following a roughly 5 minute stop at Lakeside to let passengers off and on, the journey back to Kingsmere takes approximately 5 minutes.

What is there to see on the journey?

Spoilers ahead!

Join the train at Kingsmere or Lakeside stations for a picturesque journey along the banks of Moors Lake.

The journey to Lakeside also includes three tunnels, a forested section with an incline and railway bridge, and a spiral loop which weaves around the main play areas.

The journey to Kingsmere also includes a tunnel and a loop passing the carriage sheds, goods yard, engine shed and turntable, where you might be lucky enough to see some of the other locomotives on display or being maintained!

For more information, see the railway map.

What else is there to do at the railway?

At Kingsmere Station you can visit the Railway Gift Shop which sells a wide selection of souvenirs including Bigjigs wooden trains, Thomas the Tank Engine items, engine driver hats and guards flags and Moors Valley Railway memorabilia. Find out more about gifts and souvenirs.

The Station Buffet offers a selection of hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, sweet treats and ice cream. Find out more about food and drink.

Make the model train go around the garden railway (20p), take a photo at the photo board, and learn more about the engines on the display board.

You can see the turntable and yard where you might spot some of the engines being prepared, cleaned or maintained, and if you ask nicely (and subject to staff availability), you might be able to see inside the engine shed!

At Lakeside Station you can visit the children’s play areas, have a picnic and feed the ducks. The Lakeside Station Kiosk offers cold drinks, snacks, sweet treats and ice cream and a selection of railway souvenirs.

For more information, see the railway map.

What else is there to do at the country park?

The railway was the first established attraction within the park and remains one of the most popular, however in addition to the railway, you can:

  • Enjoy a peaceful walk through the forest
  • Cycle along many miles of gravel tracks
  • Explore woodland and lakeside play areas and trails
  • Immerse yourself in a round of golf (or adventure golf!)
  • Go Ape on a high-wire forest adventure swinging through the treetops
  • Let your children navigate an exciting off-road journey in electric Mini Land Rovers
  • Visit the ranger den and learn more about nature and the wildlife that can be found at the park

The park is open every day except Christmas Day. Individual attraction opening times may vary.

For more information, visit the country park website.

Safety & accessibility

Safety notice for all passengers

Steam locomotives emit smoke, steam and ash and also have loud whistles.

Do children need to be accompanied?

Children under 8 must be accompanied.

Children 8 or over riding unaccompanied may find it easier to make a round trip starting at Kingsmere Station. This will enable them to stay on the train for the entire journey.

Starting a round trip from Lakeside requires all passengers to disembark at Kingsmere and switch platforms to rejoin the train.

Tickets will be clipped prior to boarding the train, and again prior to the return journey, so please ensure children are aware they need to keep hold of them.

Are dogs allowed on the train?

Sorry, due to a number of safety incidents involving dogs, and in the interest of safety and comfort of all passengers, no dogs (except guide dogs or assistance dogs) are allowed on the train.

Can pushchairs/bikes/scooters be brought on the train?

There is a luggage carriage for pushchairs, scooters and small children’s bikes at the front of most trains. Alternatively, if you are making a round trip, these can be left in a pushchair park at Kingsmere Station, or on the platform at Lakeside Station.

Can wheelchairs be brought on the train?

There is wheelchair access onto the platforms, however all passengers will have to transfer directly into the carriage for the journey. Unfortunately, the railway carriages are unable to accommodate wheelchairs.

Wheelchairs can be stored in the luggage carriage at the front of most trains. Alternatively, if you are making a round trip, they can be left in a pushchair park at Kingsmere Station, or on the platform at Lakeside Station.

Is there step free access?

There is level access to both stations, however all passengers will have to transfer directly into the carriage for the journey.

Trains usually terminate at Kingsmere Station. The exit is via a stepped footbridge. If you wish to continue your journey back to Lakeside Station, you will also need to disembark and change platforms via the footbridge to rejoin the train. Should you have difficulty using the footbridge, please discuss alternative options with the guard.

What happens if it rains?

Trains still operate in the rain.

All carriages are open, so wear something waterproof if the weather looks typically British.

Umbrellas are not permitted as there are several tunnels along the line.

If there is a particularly heavy downpour while the train is at Kingsmere Station, it will likely wait in the station until the weather improves – drivers want to avoid getting wet as much as passengers!

Child and adult ponchos are available to purchase at Kingsmere Station Shop.

What are the carriage seats like?/Can I sit facing sideways or backwards?

Seats on the railway carriages must be straddled. Please face forward and keep your head, hands and feet inside the carriage at all times, and do not intentionally rock the carriage.

For safety reasons, all passengers must face forwards so they can react to anything happening ahead of them.

Facilities

Where are there toilets?

There are toilet facilities, including accessible toilets, at Kingsmere Station. Additional accessible toilets are available at the nearby Moors Valley Golf and Activity Centre.

The nearest toilet facilities to Lakeside Station, including accessible toilets and baby changing facilities, can be found at the Moors Valley Visitor Centre.

Where can I buy souvenirs?

Kingsmere Station Gift Shop sells a wide selection of railway (and non-railway) souvenirs, gifts and memorabilia.

Lakeside Station Kiosk sells a smaller selection of souvenirs.

Find out more about gifts and souvenirs.

Where can I buy food and drink?

The Kingsmere Station Buffet sells a selection of hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, ice cream and snacks.

The Lakeside Station Kiosk sells a selection of cold drinks, ice cream and snacks.

Find out more about food and drink.

Where is the best place to have a picnic?

Seating and picnic tables are available at both stations.

There are outdoor and undercover tables at Kingsmere Station, and outdoor tables at the Lakeside Picnic and Event Area.

For the best view of the trains, there are outdoor tables at Kingsmere Station View Picnic Area.

For more information, see the railway map.

Are there rubbish bins?

There is a rubbish bin by the Kingsmere Station Buffet, and the Lakeside kiosk will happily take back any rubbish from items bought on site. However, if you bring a picnic to enjoy at Moors Valley, we ask you to take the rubbish home with you.

Bins, however frequently emptied, often smell and attract insects and other animals. The wildlife would be attracted to the bins and could make themselves ill by eating inappropriate food or packaging material.

Please help keep Moors Valley a tidy place for people and a safe place for animals by being responsible for your own rubbish.

Photos

Where is the best place to get a photo next to the engine?

We like to keep the railway running on time so trains aren’t stopped for long! However the best place for a close-up photo with an engine is immediately after disembarking the train at Lakeside.

Be quick, as the train will be getting prepared to leave and the guard will need to clear the platform. And be careful not to touch the engine, as it will be very hot!

Can the guard take my/our photo?

If you ask nicely, guards are happy to take photos before the train departs. Trains need to leave on time however, so please be respectful – especially on busy days – as photos may not always be possible.

What are the best locations to photograph the trains?

While everyone will have their personal preference, some of our favourite locations to take photos of the trains include (arranged north to south):

  • The outside of the turnaround loop behind Kingsmere Station, accessible by the footpath which runs between the railway and golf course car park.
  • Kingsmere Station View Picnic Area, where you’ll have a clear view of Kingsmere Station and Kingsmere East Signal Box, as well as trains approaching and leaving the tunnel which runs underneath you. The picnic area can be accessed via the footbridge to the south of the station.
  • The raised walkway over the pond between Kingsmere and Lakeside stations, where you can get shots with the lake in the background.
  • The footbridge to Lakeside Station, where you can get shots from above the train traveling down the line from Kingsmere, and as they depart or pass through Lakeside.
  • The footbridge to the infants’ play area, where you can see trains in the spiral entering the second and third tunnels.
  • The western edge of the infants’ play area, where you might be lucky enough to see trains passing each other in the siding.

Download the railway map for help getting around.

Events & groups

What special events are there?

Special event days include a Visiting Loco Weekend, Grand Summer Gala and Autumn Gala.

We sometimes run special train services alongside regular services, including Santa Special trains in December.

Can I hold a birthday party or event at the railway?

We regularly run trains for birthday parties, schools, clubs and other private hire events. We love to welcome groups on the train and can tailor your visit to suit you. Plus, we may be able to offer discounts on return journeys depending on your group size.

Find out more about group visits.

Impress friends & family

When did the railway open?

The railway opened in 1986. Learn more about the history of the railway.

How long is the railway?

The passenger journey is just over a mile, and including sidings and platforms, the full track length is about a mile and a half.

How many engines are there?

There are 19 steam and 2 diesel locomotives. A 20th steam locomotive is currently under construction.

Learn more about the railway locomotives.

Which and how many engines will be running when I visit?

While this is down to driver preference and which engines are in service, you are guaranteed a steam engine!

At busy times, there will typically be three trains running.

The line is busiest during special event days where there may be 8+ engines in steam and on rotation between running on the line and in the engine yard where you can get up-close and maybe even sit in the cab if you have a Gala Rover ticket!

For more information about the engines you might see and ride behind, see the locomotives page.

Can I see the engine shed and workshop?

Workshop, engine shed and yard tours are available to Gala Rover ticket holders during the Grand Summer Gala and Autumn Gala.

You can learn more about what goes on behind the scenes on the Workshop page.

Can I see the engines being steamed up?

Yes, but you’ll have to be early! If you head past the refreshment kiosk and to the rear of Kingsmere station between 8:30 and 10:00 on a running day, you’ll find the drivers in the yard preparing and steaming up the engines for the day.

This requires a lot of work and attention, so please be courteous and do not distract the drivers if they ask you not to.

Can I drive an engine?

Aspiring young engine drivers will need to wait until they are a little older, however for those aged 18 or over, our Footplate Experience courses offer a full day’s tuition driving and firing a steam engine.

Full-time drivers require lots of training and have to pass exams to ensure they can operate an engine safely!

Can I volunteer or work at the railway?

We are always looking for helping hands, however volunteers must be aged 18 or over.

The railway has a small number of paid staff, and part time roles are often available such as guards, cafe and shop staff. Applicants must be aged 16 or over.

Find out more about volunteering and vacancies.

Why are the engines bigger than most 7¼″ gauge locomotives?

The engines are based off a narrow gauge prototypeTinkerbell – which was the first narrow gauge locomotive that the driver could sit in, rather than behind. This design has transformed and expanded over the years, enabling locomotives to be built with even greater proportions and power not normally seen on 7¼″ gauge railways.

How long is each train?

A typical passenger train consists of the engine, a barrier/luggage wagon, 11 passenger carriages, and a guard’s/brake van.

Which is the biggest engine on the railway?

This award goes to the mighty Thor.

Did you know Thor has two whistles? If you’re riding behind Thor, keep your ears open for the both of them!

It can also run for a limited time on pressurised air alone, making it easier to get back into the engine shed when not in steam.

Which is the most powerful engine on the railway?

This title goes to Offa. While Offa is smaller than Thor, she is not as heavy and carries less coal in her tender. This reduced weight means Offa can use more power pulling carriages and passengers.

Offa once pulled 25 carriages with 198 passengers and 3 guards with no trouble at all!

Where is engine No.1?

You may have noticed the lowest numbered engine is No.2 Horace. So where is engine No.1?

Engine No.1 is Sir Goss, a 2-4-2 Tender Loco which was built in 1981 in the workshop at Tucktonia. It ran at Tucktonia and moved to Moors Valley in 1985 when the railway was being built, where it became loco No.1.

Sir Goss left Moors Valley in the early 1990’s, where it performed a key role in setting up the Mersham Valley Railway in Surrey, before moving to the Swanley New Barn Railway in Kent where it now resides.

You may be lucky enough to occasionally see Sir Goss back at Moors Valley during special events.

What happened to Emmet?

Emmet is the railway’s 2ft gauge 0-4-0T Tank Engine, named after a former Moors Valley Railway cat. Because of his size (the engine, not the cat), he is too big to run at Moors Valley!

He used to be kept on display next to the refreshment kiosk at Kingsmere Station, but now enjoy lots of holidays to other railways. Some of the places he’s visited include Hayling Seaside Railway, Amerton Railway, and the Purbeck Mining Museum. He is currently running at the Old Kiln Light Railway where you can have a ride behind him.

When can I see the freight wagons and the Tucktonia covered carriages?

You may occasionally see a genuine freight train hauling ballast, track, sleepers and equipment on non-running days while the railway is being maintained.

On special event days, you will also see trains pulling a variety of demonstration freight wagons. You may occasionally see these out on the railway on normal running days when drivers are being trained.

The Tucktonia covered carriages were built in 1975. Due to their fragile nature, they are no longer suitable for pulling passengers.

However, you can see them on demonstration trains during special events.

Who (and what) is Eric?

You’ll need to visit the railway to find out the answer to this! If you ride behind or spot Thor in the yard, ask the driver or a member of staff if they can introduce you to Eric!

You now hopefully know everything you could possibly need to for your visit, however if you think something is missing, please let us know.

Have we missed something? Let us know!