A few months ago we visited Audley End Miniature Railway this is the third time we have been. We thought about going again in the summer for the summer festival which we did last time but I had a quick look at half term and they were doing a Pirate and Mermaid event. If you would like to read about the summer festival you can read it in A Day At Audley End Railway.
As this was a different event we thought we would go and see how it differed.
We have noticed in the past that lots of children go dressed in fancy dress when they visit and it really creates a lovely atmosphere. So this time I couldn’t resist but got them both costumes to wear, I thought they would look quite cute in their his and hers pirate costumes, and to be fair they did. We did take spare clothes with us incase it got sticky hot, as the costume material isn’t the most comfortable when its hot.
We pre booked our tickets online so we could guarantee what train slot we got. As in previous experience it can get very busy. The tickets themselves entitle you to, one train ride and one entry into the elf and fairy walk. All other activities are available throughout the day.
On the day we arrived just after 10am and it didn’t appear to be too busy to start with, we got entry very easily. On entry you received an activity booklet, which has parts for the elf and fairy walk, and an I spy sheet for the train ride, as well as an information leaflet of all the upcoming events. For the event you also got a treasure map for the Pirate and Mermaid event for you to follow the clues and note down the letters as you find them to spell out a pirate word.
We had planned on doing the train after lunch so we could have a look around the picnic area and see what they had going on. There was a stage area set up for story telling and sing along. There was also face painting, craft making and the games area. Which were all pirate and mermaid themed.
Having been to the summer festival which is a much bigger event this was smaller in scale, there wasn’t as much to do in the picnic area itself. As we had arrived early the children did get to try out the activities that were set up without any waiting, which they both enjoyed. They included a bean bag throwing game and hoop toss etc.
We also managed to see a bit of the sing along show as well. At the end of this you are invited to go and meet with the pirate and mermaids for photos, which I think is a lovely idea. It really encourages the children to get involved, obviously my 2 didn’t want to go anywhere near them.
We took a picnic with us this time, purely because we like a picnic. I believe there are plenty of food options available in the cafe from our last visit. Again as it wasn’t too busy we didn’t need to sit on the floor we actually got table, which was great for me and my back. There was the outdoor kiosk doing hot drinks and snacks in the picnic area too.
After lunch there was time for a play in the play area and a toilet stop before we were ready for our train ride. As we made our way around to queue in the pre booked area, we were invited to go on the earlier train as it was half empty. So even though we were booked into a slot the staff were very accommodating and allowed us on earlier. Which was great as we then didn’t have to keep 2 impatient children waiting whilst the train steamed off.
Throughout the train ride the area is set up with lots of teddy bear displays, and as it was the event they had been themed with lots of pirate and mermaid accessories.
Tip – don’t forget in the booklet there is an eye spy sheet for the train ride.
M did not like the teddy bears she got a bit scared, (I think some of that goes back to the ride she didn’t like at A Day At Watermouth Family Theme Park and Castle). So we actually got distracted and forgot about the I Spy sheet.
There was a lovely scene at the end of the train ride of all the pirate teddies on their ships with the mermaids on the rocks. It was very nicely done.
After the train ride we walked straight over the the elf and fairy walk. Just at the entrance you have the choice to go straight through or make a fairy wand first. Which we decided to do. It was a simple craft using the pencil you received when you entered Audley End. You also got a little leaf to write a wish on ready to put on the wish tree on the walk.
Once done we made our way through the entrance to the walk, which is one of my favourite parts, I love the arch and all the bright coloured ribbons, so pretty. The walk itself has been updated with new bark chip paths and some of the fairies look they have been moved and had their homes freshened up. There is a new wooden play house not far in to it which I don’t remember being there last time, although don’t quote me on that it was a few years ago, and I actually can’t remember.
It can get quite busy in the walk as you’ve got a tick sheet of all the different fairy’s and some children are so keen to find them all. Even so it’s still one of my favourite parts, the fairy homes are so lovely and I like the little stories for each fairy.
They even had a display of unhatched eggs with a little rhyme tempting you to come back in the summer to find out what hatched. Which I will admit to being tempted back to find out.
By this time though it was starting to get really hot and at the end of the walk just before we exited we took H’s costume off. As we went passed the cafe we decided it would be a good time to stop for a drink and cake before we left for the way home.
We left about 3:30, so we did manage to spend most of the day there. We could even have managed a little bit longer if it wasn’t for everyone being quite hot and bothered and tired by that point.
As with the last time we went we all had a really lovely day, and as with last time I’ve left a little piece of my heart there. It was nice to see both the children interacting with the various activities as last time M was too young. She showed a lot of interest in the fairy walk and was having a good look around. H still loves the train ride its his favourite part, I doubt that will change anytime soon.
Have you been here? What was your favourite part? Let me know below.