All aboard for a weekend of sheer pleasure at a holiday home with its own private railway

Shortly before 10.30am on a glorious summer s day and my two young sons, parents, parents-in-law, husband and I are riding on a small, blue replica Bolivian mine steam train. We re heading through the magnificent grounds of the Netherwood Estate on the Herefordshire-Worcestershire border. David, our driver, looks splendid in his purple uniform and classic black cap, and my son Noah, who has nursed a Thomas the Tank Engine obsession for nearly three years, is in heaven.

All Aboard For A Weekend Of Sheer Pleasure At A <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Home With Its Own Private Railway

The Hyde (pictured) is set on the grounds of the Netherwood Estate in Tenbury Wells

All Aboard For A Weekend Of Sheer Pleasure At A <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Home With Its Own Private Railway

Whistle-stop tour: Noah drives the miniature train on the Netherwood estate where the family stayed at The Hyde

Clouds of steam pour out of the funnel and trail our journey through quaint replica stations and around almost a mile of track. The unspoilt countryside is sublime. I feel as if I m in my own personal version of The Railway Children, until Noah, who has been allowed to drive the train, repeatedly blows the whistle so loudly that I wonder if my eardrums will recover. We re riding on the longest private narrow gauge steam railway in the country, one of many memorable features of The Hyde, a fabulous Grade II-listed house, where you and up to 20 guests can stay in complete luxury.

Owners Peta and Ivo Clifton, who renovated and reunited the house with the estate five years ago, have allowed its history to sing. It s perfect for a large family gathering. The master bedroom has the original medieval beamed ceiling and a wonderful four-poster bed.

All Aboard For A Weekend Of Sheer Pleasure At A <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Home With Its Own Private Railway

The Hyde is home to the longest private narrow gauge steam railway (above) in the country

All the rooms in the house and accompanying cottage have been thoughtfully decorated to show off their quirky features, from sinister meat hooks in the kitchen to a painting in the Solar bedroom of the family s great-great-grandmother, the Countess of Darnley. It was she who presented her lover Ivo Bligh, the England cricket captain, with the ashes of the bails from a friendly match on Boxing Day 1884 in Rupertswood, in Victoria, Australia.

These went on to be known as the sporting trophy The Ashes. History may seep out of every pore but the mod cons are all 21st century, from the marshmallow soft beds, a vast sofa in the TV room and gallons of piping hot water. The award-winning chef James Fletcher lives on the estate and will happily whip up a delicious feast of locally sourced produce.

All Aboard For A Weekend Of Sheer Pleasure At A <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Home With Its Own Private Railway

History may seep out of every pore but the mod cons are all 21st century, from the marshmallow soft beds, a vast sofa in the TV room and gallons of piping hot water

We ate Wye asparagus served with a soft poached duck egg, hollandaise sauce and freshly baked bread, beef en croute and passion fruit tart served with a dollop of coconut and lime ice cream. James can also magic up superb pies for your arrival night, so all you need to do is turn on one of the two ovens and uncork the wine. When not feasting, sleeping or riding on the railway, there are endless activities.

You can chase your children round the miniature maze, climb the treehouse, play tennis, walk round the 1,200 acres of countryside spotting hares, fish for rainbow or brown trout in the pond or try your hand at a spot of clay pigeon shooting. My only regret was that we stayed for a weekend rather than a week.

TRAVEL FACTS

The Hyde (thehyde.info1, 01885 410 321) sleeps 20 and costs from 2,250 for three nights in low season. There are no fewer than 162 miniature railways in the UK.

For more information, visit

References

  1. ^ thehyde.info (thehyde.info)
  2. ^

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