Trainspotting with a Toddler

Taking the wife to watch a steam train pass by a disused field in the rain. The toddler loved our trip out to see a mainline steam train.

Trainspotting with a Toddler

Despite my childhood interest in trains, I have never actually been ‘trainspotting.’ This was all about to change and perhaps see the start of a fun family activity!

Unfortunately, this was Valentines Day! I raised the topic with the family as I had seen on Facebook that the ‘Tin Bath’ steam train was due to pass through several local stations. It was a double headed steam special and as I have since learnt due to licence restrictions, mainline steam is an increasingly rare occurrence.

Steam Trains

Following lots of Googling, I discovered a popular viewing spot was ‘Horbury Junction’ so Mrs M, Little M and I trekked off to see some trains! As I cautiously drove down a fairly long neglected single track road, I was relieved to see several cars with thermos flask holding elderly couples all with their cameras at the ready.

It was at this point I checked the ‘train tracking app‘ to discover an hours delay on the departure of the ‘Tin Bath’. It was at this point I realised I had brought the family to an abandoned crossing point of the M1 and the East Coast Mainline. There was a walkway, underpass covered in Graffiti and a railway signal box with a man ensuring no one was trespassing.

There were no toilets and no other activities… and we all needed the toilet. So we piled back into the car, drove out to a pub, went to the toilet, got back in the car and drove back as it started to rain slightly. We also saw a bridge which had a much bigger crowd developing, so doubts were raised about viewpoint we had selected for our location.

Realising the train was imminent I clambered up a steep hill for the perfect video position while Mrs M and Little M stood in the field awaiting the locomotive and sure enough, the moment arrived.

Unfortunately, the anticipation had distracted me from what I was doing and I pressed a button on my camera which drained all its processing power and a small section of the passing train was missed from my video, but undeterred, Little M and I edited any missing footage when we returned home.

If you are interested in trains or not, there is no doubt that the ‘Tin Bath’ thundering past at speed was impressive and Little M loved it – he was so excited. In the end, we had found a sensible distance for him not to be scared of the noise and be able to see the engine and carriages. Even Mrs M confessed she had enjoyed our quick trip out.

We were out for about an hour in total, so it was a quick trip which for a fun, easy activity that cost us nothing and gave us something to remember was well worth while.

If you really want to get involved, then do check out the Mainline Steam Specials Facebook Group where you can see some fab photographs and keep up to speed on what’s going on in the world of Mainline Steam Trains.

A quick trip to see the trains
  • Adventure Rating
  • Value for Money
  • Child Friendly
  • Adult Experience


Whilst Little M loves seeing the trains pass by, the timing is key! A toddler’s attention span is short, so hours stood on a cold embankment aren’t going to be a hit, however, if you get the right spot and make it part of the day, it can be an enjoyable and memorable trip out.

With all the variables, it’s a great time filler if you are in easy reach of passing locations of these fabulous steam engines.


  1. CAT CULMER May 8, 2016
  2. Helena May 8, 2016
  3. Helena - babyfoote May 13, 2016
  4. Nyomi May 20, 2016

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