Chugging heck! A steam railway is giving you the chance to drive a steam locomotive for the day.
The Spa Valley Railway in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, has launched new driver experiences, giving the public a chance to get behind the levers of one of its historic locomotives.
Steam Driver Experiences offer a choice between a Light Locomotive Driver Experience and a Full Day Driver Experience. The first lets you drive the seven mile route (under supervision, of course) from Tunbridge Wells to West Groombridge and back. You'll also get a guided tour of the locomotive shed, and a year's membership of the Tunbridge Wells & Eridge Railway Preservation Society. The experience costs £250.
If you've got deeper pockets, the Full Day Driver Experience (£500) includes a chance to drive the steam train, fire the steam train, and guard the train (not all at once, you maverick), as well as a guided tour of the engine shed and signal box and... let's face it, depending where you fall on the subject of trains, you're either already falling asleep or already booking your ticket.
There's not much that'll tempt us to leave London, but this might just do it — and given our recent adventures in bus-bothering, a locomotive should be a doddle to handle... right?
The Spa Valley Railway is a privately operated line running between four stations in Kent and East Sussex. It runs train-based events throughout the year — so if the driver experiences are a little steeply-priced, there are plenty of other options. It's currently fundraising to purchase an ex-mainline steam engine to secure the future of steam trains on the line.
For further ideas for day trips out of London, take a look at our map.