Beamish is a place we return to again and again. It is the one place my son has never got bored of, despite having seen everything there so many times now. Because it is a living museum it is like being transported back in time and there’s a magical element to it that appeals to all ages. It can be a long and tiring day (especially if you have to push a pushchair round, if not you can hop on and off the trams), but well worth it. Before we went the first time I thought the admission price seemed quite high (£18.50 for adults, £10.50 for children at the time of writing – under 5’s are free) but this actually gives you a year long pass. We return every summer and Christmas and usually either Easter or one of the half terms as well so we certainly get our money’s worth.
The museum is made of up of four main areas and trams and old buses run regularly to take you from one to the next. If you have a pushchair with you there is one accessible bus but it’s generally easier to just walk.
1820s Pockerley Wagonway and Old Pockerley Hall
The wagonway is great fun. Not only can you have a look at the old steam engines you can have a short ride on the wagon way itself. Be warned though it can be bumpy and if you sit at the front you are likely to come away covered in smut so if you’re wearing white you might want to sit further back.
There is a church in the 1820’s landscape that is a new addition since the last time we were there and it has been beautifully recreated.
During the summer they had different activities on each day and the Friday that we went there was a falconry display on in the field next to Old Pockerley Hall. We didn’t stay for the display but M did get to hold an owl which he was very happy about.
L enjoyed checking out the beds in Old Pockerley Hall. Every time we visit we have our photo taken on this bench in the Hall’s gardens, it has become a bit of a tradition now.
1900s Town and Railway Station
My mum was with us on this visit so she took M on the tram to the village while I pushed L in the pushchair, it’s about a ten minute walk. Once there we headed to the park next to the tearooms and had a picnic near the bandstand. We have eaten in the tearooms a few times and the food is nice, but you need to get their early as it fills up pretty fast. As long as the weather is nice a picnic is a much better option and there are plenty of lovely places to stop all around the museum.
In the town their are a number of shops where you can buy traditional items, such as the windermere waters below (it’s expensive but I highly recommend the Raspberry flavour), bread and cakes from the bakery (get there early as they sell out) as well as packets of coffee, biscuits and soap from the general store.
The most popular shop by far is the traditional sweet shop and the queue for this place is very often out the door and up the street. At the back of the shop you can actually go and watch the sweets being made and there are usually samples, unfortunately we timed it wrong this visit and whatever had been made that morning was all gone and the next lot was bubbling away in a pan and going to be some time so we left.
While the shops are manageable with a pushchair the houses aren’t as they have very narrow passages and stairs so you may need to take it in turns. I’ve seen everything plenty of times so my mum took M in while I tried to persuade a very tired L to have a nap (it didn’t work, she didn’t want to miss anything).
There are some stables behind the shops where you can visit the horses and look at some of the old carts and you very often see them out and about around the museum too.
At the Railways you can have a ride on a steam train. We did it a couple of years ago while I was pregnant and it’s a bit of a squeeze getting everyone on board and it usually ends up as standing room only. I’m glad we did it but I don’t think we’re in any rush to go on again. Although it is good to stand on the bridge and watch it go underneath.
Just past the railway there is an events field where they have a few traditional fair rides, including the steam powered carousel. M has been on this every single visit but this was a first time for me and L (at the time of writing it cost £1.50 per horse so if you have to hold a younger one on you don’t need to pay for yourself as well).
The farm is great. There a couple of small cottages you can go into and see how people lived and then over the road is the farm itself. There are usually a number of pigs and chickens but this time we didn’t see any. Also, on a weekend there is usually someone cooking in the farm kitchen and you can sample some biscuits. I didn’t realise till I was sorting through my many many photos, but for some reason I didn’t take any at the farm this time.
1900s Pit Village and Colliery
In the village there is a community centre, a church, the pit pony stables, some more cottages to explore and everyone’s favourite, the school. Its crazy how kids can hate school but get them here and they love it. Sometimes there are even lessons going on with very strict looking teachers. In one classroom you can try your hand at writing with a quill and ink and in another you can use an old chalkboard and charcoal.
In the school playground everyone tries their hand at an old fashioned game of hoop and stick, and generally fails to work out how to get the hoop moving. It is so much harder than it looks!
In the colliery you can explore some of the coal mining machinery and some more trains. Everyone was worn out by this point so we didn’t get anymore pictures and headed home having had another brilliant day out.
If you are ever nearby I can highly recommend a visit to Beamish (you can find out more here). Our next visit will be Christmas. We have been the last two christmases and they put on the most amazing Santa experience complete with real reindeer you can feed. You generally have to queue for a long time but they put on some craft tables to entertain the kids while you wait.
Have you ever visited Beamish or somewhere similar? What did you think?