The West Somerset Railway is surprisingly popular. Our train was packed, with every seat taken and people getting on and off at intermediate stations: Just like a real train service and not simply a museum line. The 90-minute, 22.75-mile journey from Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton, takes passengers to the pretty resort of Minehead on the North Somerset coast. The round trip costs £17 (£15 in advance) and there is a regular service. But check with the web site because it varies throughout the year. The volunteer staff run a mix of diesel and steam, so check that also when planning a visit.
Both Ralf and I much preferred the North Yorkshire Moors Railway between Pickering and Whitby which we visited last year; but the West Somerset is definitely worth the effort if you are in the West Country.
This was a three-day outing from London. We needed somewhere to stay and, for once, I hit the jackpot when I selected Farthing's Hotel at Hatch Beauchamp, about five miles outside Taunton. This small family hotel offers superb accommodation and excellent food and was a real find.
An amazing variety of fowl, from peacocks to geese, ducks and hens, roams the grounds and provides fresh produce for the kitchen. The breakfast eggs were the bes I have tasted, used as I am to supermarket fare. If you are visiting the area, especially for the West Somerset Railway, I cannot think of a better place to stay. You will need a car, of course. Our only complaint was the rather patchy wifi in the hotel. Unfortunately this is a common problem with hotels throughout the world.