The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (KWVR) runs between Keighley and Oxenhope in West Yorkshire, a distance of four and a half miles and was built to serve the mill trades in the 19th century, the line closing in 1961. Steam trains now operate on this heritage line at weekends and daily during the summer months. We bought one day Green Rover Tickets so that we could visit several stations along the line and this ticket also includes a visit to the two rail museums located at Ingrow station.
The steam railway has its own platform on the side of Keighley Railway Station so it’s easily accessible as this main line station serves Leeds, Bradford, Skipton and Carlisle. Boarding the train, we sat on traditional wooden seats in small compartments for 6 passengers. Damens, the second stop on the line was the smallest station in the country as it was built to serve just one mill, we didn’t get off here but instead made our first stop at Oakworth so that we could see where the famous 1970 film ‘The Railway Children’ was filmed. The KWVR insisted that the station name remain unchanged in the film and this helped to boost visitor numbers to the steam railway.
Our next stop was Haworth, the largest station on the line and home to the Bronte sisters , particularly Emily Bronte’s novel ‘Wuthering Heights’ which is based locally in what is now known as ‘Bronte Country’.
Its a steep walk up a cobblestone lane from the station to the village centre but shuttle buses are available if preferred. The main street is again on a steep incline but it’s interesting to browse inside the small shops and cafes along the way. At the top of the hill lies Bronte Parsonage where the Bronte family lived from 1820. The parsonage is now a museum and you can look in the dining room where Emily, Anne and Jane did most of their writing. Next to the Parsonage, Haworth Parish Church and The Old School Room are both interesting to visit.
In 2014, the Tour de France cycle race came through the village and the steep uphill climb along its cobbles was one of the highlights of the Yorkshire ‘Grand Depart’ with thousands of spectators lining its route.
After tea and cakes in one of the many cafes, we walked back down the hill just in time to take the steam train to the last station on the line, Oxenhope. This station has again been well preserved and in addition to the traditional booking office there is also a gift shop, waiting room and cafe. On our return journey we made a final stop at Ingrow (the nearest stop to Keighley) to take a look in the Museums at Ingrow West. The Vintage Carriages Trust Museum of Rail Travel has some beautifully restored historic rail carriages many of which have featured in films and television programmes. The second museum Ingrow Locomotive Museum is home to the Keighley and Worth Valley Steam Railway’s own collection of locomotives and also acts as their workshop run by rail enthusiast volunteers.
Hopping back on the steam train one final time back to Keighley we then had to return home on a regular Northern Rail service – oh for the days of steam!