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Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway

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by David Dingwall (subscribe)
A civil servant by day who has a passion for exploring what Great Britain has to offer in my spare time.
Published October 29th 2016
If you're ever in a nostalgic mood to let the steam train take the strain, Yorkshire has steam railways a-plenty. Whilst the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway may not be as well-known as some of its better known Yorkshire heritage railway rivals, this should not leave anyone deterred.

Embsay is a small village around two miles or so from Skipton. I chose to walk from Skipton to Embsay and on footpaths all the way is an easy one (just mind crossing the main road just outside Embsay as traffic does travel fast along there). The original station buildings still survive and have been restored back to tip-top condition by the volunteers.

Embsay station
Embsay station


You can purchase a ticket either on the day or online in advance of your visit and a day rover ticket allows unlimited travel on the railway for the day or purchase. Trains will either be steam or diesel hauled and we were fortunate to have a steam locomotive in operation that day. The carriages have all been restored to a high standard which makes the journey very comfortable; you can either travel in standard class or you can upgrade to first class for a small fee. It's a case of forgetting all your troubles, just unwind and enjoy the journey.

Steam locomotive on Embsay and Bolton Abbey steam railway
Steam locomotive at Bolton Abbey station


Upon leaving Embsay, you are travelling through stunning Yorkshire countryside. Look to your left at the start of your journey and you'll see Embsay crag. There is just one intermediate stop at Holywell Halt but you'll need to speak to the conductor beforehand as it's a request stop but one used frequently by walkers and picnickers alike.

The journey ends at Bolton Abbey station, where you can find the giftshop and enjoy a hot drink and refreshments in the café. I highly recommend the cakes! On the return journey, the train continues a short distance beyond Embsay station before returning.

Bolton Abbey
A view towards Bolton Abbey


The station is about a mile or so from Bolton Abbey village but is easily accessible by way of footpaths. Come out of the station building and head towards the exit. The footpath is on the right hand side. From here it's a pleasant walk through lush green fields with the dales in the distance. If you keep going for about 1 ˝ miles, you will discover the remains o boltonabbey.com/ situated by the River Wharfe, now a popular tourist attraction and probably one of the most photographed buildings in West Yorkshire.

Bolton Priory
Bolton Priory


The railway hosts a number of special events throughout the year but note that there may be additional charges for some events.

At around 4 miles long The Embsay and Bolton Abbey railway may not be the longest heritage railway journey but it makes up for this with beautiful Yorkshire dales countryside and you'll be sure to receive a warm welcome from the volunteers. No matter whether you choose to just ride on the railway or combine with some walking, this makes a great day out.
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Why? Heritage railway
When: Anytime (please consult website for open days)
Where: BD23 6AF
Cost: Depends on activity
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