When we went on holiday with Verdant Leisure we made the most of all County Durham had to offer, including a visit to Beamish. Well two actually! So I thought I’d write about our experience.
Let me just start by saying Beamish is huge. If I lived locally I would be visiting again and again. We didn’t fit everything into one day so really enjoyed our second visit as well. With a 3 year old in tow it really was a lot but so worth it.
It is an open air, living museum. It is truly fascinating and a great way to spend the day and learn a few things. There are trains, trams, animals, shops, villages and mines. It is amazing. L loved it and I think he would have spent all day circling the site on the trams.
Our first visit was a bit if a rainy Friday and the rain certainly benefited us as it was quieter. No problems getting on the trams or looking round anything. Plus the weather cleared up nicely by the end of the day. You could tell the difference visiting on a sunny Saturday when the trams were filled like the tube during rush hour.
We were also lucky enough to visit for the Georgian Fair which was fabulous. A traditional Georgian Fair with stalls and shows, L got to touch a snake and watch a flea circus. They also had a few animals in a little travelling zoo, ferrets and alpacas, which L loved. There were games too but we didn’t partake in those, I wasn’t too keen on husb getting in a barrel and seeing how far he could roll as L was getting weary and I didn’t want to have to carry him everywhere as husb complained about having been rolled in a barrel!!
We walked between some areas and made the most of the trams between others. L loved the trams and it is a great idea to have the circling the whole site. There are also buses that can be taken and an accessible bus too. You also get to see traditional vehicles being driven, ridden or walked round the site which adds to the feel. All the staff are dressed the part too and will happily chat to you about their area.
Our first stop on day one was the 1940’s farm. There were plenty of animals and tractors to see so L loved it. He was also a big fan of the British Kitchen where he go to choose some snacks based on rations. We loved looking through the farm buildings and homes and both the boys enjoyed exploring the air raid shelter and pill box.
Next was the Pit Village and Colliery. The Pit Village was fascinating, probably one of my favourite areas. L liked looking through the gardens and seeing the pet rabbits and the birds. He loved the fact there was a cat living in one of the terraced houses. The school really reminded me of my childhood primary school, in looks at least, thankfully the classrooms had advanced a bit. The boys headed off for Fish and Chips which were a tad too traditional for my vegetarian wants but they loved them and husb enjoyed watching them being cooked by the coal fired fryers. There were plenty of other places for me to eat though.
After lunch it was off to the colliery. L was really excited for the mine tour, but it scared him a bit when we got in so we had to leave before we got to the end. He enjoyed the rest of the Colliery though, getting to watch an Iron Monger at work and exploring some of the other mine areas. There were also a few steam engines and trains to look at which obviously kept him happy.
A short walk through the woods lead us from the Colliery to the 1900s Town. I’ll be honest by this point L was getting tired. We still got see a fair bit of the village though. The bank and the Masonic Lodge were highlights for me. I also enjoyed the bakers but the queue was very long so I didn’t stop to buy a bun. The chemists was good too. Husb enjoyed the garage and L love the sweet shop! Definitely his highlight. Surprisingly though he wasn’t at all interested in going on the steam train. We watched it pull into the station but he did not want to ride it, not at all. We looked round most of the shops and houses but the sweet shop bribery only bought us so much time so we called it a day.
At this point we hadn’t seen any of 1820s Pockerly or looked round the 1900s Town as much as we would have liked but we had arrived for when Beamish opened at 10am and didn’t leave until nearly 3pm.
The first stop of Day 2 was the Colliery Yard, husb was desperate to look around the mine properly so he went off to do the tour by himself whilst L and I looked round the yard again. I loved that there were different engines about and we had a very different time compared to our first day. L was loving it.
Our next stop was obviously 1820s Pockerly as we hadn’t seen it at all on day one. This was where the Georgian Fair was being held so we spent some time looking round that. We watched the steam engine ride along the Waggonway, though again L wasn’t bothered about having a go himself, he did help try to pull the lift up the mine shaft though! The Church was lovely and then we got to explore the Old Hall with its beautifully landscaped gardens. Pockerly involved a lot of walking and hills, it is one of the most spread out areas and we spent a really long time there.
We considered heading back into the town to get more sweets for L but in the end opted for a shorter day and stopped in the gift shop on the way out instead. After a very full day of walking the day before L was exhausted, it was also quite a hot day so we were all happy to make our second trip shorter. It had allowed us to see the bits we had missed the day before. In the gift shop, which is fab by the way, I had bought little guide to Beamish. It was so interesting and I wish I had bought it to start with.
The whole point of Beamish is that you look around, there aren’t information boards or things to read. Everything is there for you to experience. Which is fabulous. But having read the guide book there were certainly things we had missed and it would have added to my experience. Still we may go back. Our tickets are valid for a whole year. This is why we had visited twice.
I didn’t know if we would visit Beamish or not. At £19 for an adult it’s not cheap but L was free as he was under 5. I’m so glad we did go though and we got two days out of it, already meaning we had got value for money out of tickets. If we lived closer I would definitely be making the most of that annual pass and if we go back to the area within the year it will be first on our to do list. That being said. I’m really happy with the value for money. There is so much to see and do and you make the visit suit you, spending time doing the things that you enjoy most.
We loved Beamish and I really hope I get to back.
Disclosure – this not a paid review. We bought our own tickets to Beamish. I just wanted to share my day as we had such fun.