All aboard a steam train to see Santa at Lappa Valley

One of my happy memories from our last family holiday with Jessica was a ride on the Isle of Wight steam railway. The girls loved the steam train ride and we took our last family selfie during it. For our first family holiday since losing her, we were invited for a day out to see Santa at Lappa Valley Steam Railway in Cornwall. We were looking forward to it, although I wondered if it would be very bittersweet too. The things to do and see at Lappa Valley were quite different to our last steam train experience though. It meant making those new memories was a little easier for us.


Sophie standing in front of the steam train at Lappa Valley steam railway - "All aboard a steam train to see Santa at Lappa Valley"


The railway line was originally part of a branch line which served the East Wheal Rose silver lead mine. The line was one of the many railway lines that closed as part of the Beeching cuts. It was replaced in the 1970s with a 15-inch gauge railway.


Sophie getting on the steam train


The main attractions at Lappa Valley are at the site of the East Wheal Rose mine. They are reached by taking the steam train from the entrance to Lappa Valley at Benny Halt station. The train ride from Benny Halt to East Wheal Rose takes ten minute and the trains run every 40 minutes in the winter. The departure times are available on the website. It’s recommended that visitors arrived 15 minutes before the departure time. We were booked on the 11:20 train to visit Santa.


Sophie and Daddy on the steam train


Me and Thomas on the steam train


There are three railways at Lappa Valley – the 15-inch gauge steam railway between Benny Halt and East Wheal Rose; the 10¼ inch gauge Newlyn Branch line (which was closed when we visited); and the 7¼ inch gauge woodland railway.  The ticket price includes unlimited journeys on all three railways plus all the attractions on site (with the exception of the coin-operated cars).


Sophie standing next to the steam train


We had about twenty minutes before our timed slot to see Santa. Sophie headed for the pedal car track. There were a variety of little cars and scooters to choose from. Seeing her squeezed into one of the Little Tikes cars made me realise though just how much she has grown this year!


Sophie riding a Little Tikes car


Hubby was quite interested in the mine engine house and chimney. The mine engine house once housed one of the largest mine engine pumps in Cornwall – a 100 inch beam engine which was known as “Great Hundred”. The chimney stack was usually built on the corner of the mine engine house. The one at East Wheal Rose was built separately though. This was probably because the ground was too soft for it to be built at the corner of the mine engine house.


The mine engine house and chimney at East Wheal Rose


We arrived at the gift shop a few minutes before our Santa slot. There was an activity table with colouring sheets for the children while they waited for Santa’s elf to fetch them. Sophie preferred to look at the selection of toys in the gift shop while she waited.


I was relieved that Sophie’s request to Santa (a Skye toy) hadn’t changed! We made sure that Santa knew that we were staying at Coombe Mill on holiday. Sophie also promised to leave a mince pie and a carrot out. She was very happy with her gift from Santa – a little soft toy tiger-striped cat in a carrier. Thomas also had a gift – a cuddly teddy bear.


Sophie with Santa at Lappa Valley


The adult ticket price included a hot drink and a mince pie. After we visited Santa, we stopped at the cafe to get these, and have some lunch.


Sophie playing with her soft toy cat while we enjoy a mince pie and hot drink


After lunch, Sophie headed for the roundabout swings near the café. She loved being spun around and around on these until it was time to head to the party carriage to watch a magic show.


Sophie being spun on the swing roundabout


While Sophie and Daddy watched Harry Kazzam’s magic show, Thomas and I went for a ride on the woodland railway. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer drove the train, taking us on a couple of laps around the toddlers’ path maze and the nature pond.


The woodland railway train being driven by Rudolph


Sophie was keen to be back at Coombe Mill in time for the Christmas activity hour, so we had to take the 1:40pm steam train back to Benny Halt. The route from East Wheal Rose back to Benny Halt takes a circular route around the canoeing lake so the train doesn’t need to turn around. At Benny Halt, there was a turntable for the engine to turn around again. Sophie was quite fascinated at seeing it turn around. I think Daddy also enjoyed explaining how the points changed so the train could change track and move to the front of the carriages.


The steam train engine turning around on the turntable


We enjoyed our day out at Lappa Valley, although we could have done with a little more time there. There were a few more attractions on the site that we didn’t have the time to explore, such as the children’s play areas and the crazy golf. I would have also liked to have explored one of the nature trails as well.


The steam train heading back to East Wheal Rose station


Visiting Lappa Valley Steam Railway – what you need to know:


Lappa Valley Steam Railway
St Newlyn East


Opening times:

Lappa Valley Steam Railway is open from 10am daily, from late March to early November, plus February half term and selected winter weekends. More information about opening times, ticket prices and the attractions available can be found on the Lappa Valley Steam Railway website.



We received complimentary tickets for the Santa train ride at Lappa Valley in order to share a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


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18 thoughts on “All aboard a steam train to see Santa at Lappa Valley

  1. It looks like you all had a lovely few hours there. We went to Lappa Valley when my boys were 3 and 1 and we absolutely loved it. I’ve still got very special memories of it. I’m not sure why we never went back, especially as we go to Cornwall every single year.

    1. It is such a lovely day out. I’d love to go back in the summer months with more time to explore.

  2. Lovely to see Lappa at a different time of year. It was Late summer when we visited a few years ago. The nature trails are definitely worth exploring. Glad you enjoyed your festive visit. #countrykids

    1. I had the same thought with your post this week – it’s interesting to see places at different times of year when we’ve only experienced one season! I’d certainly like to go back to Lappa Valley one summer and have more time to explore.

  3. This is such a blast from the past for me. We went here a few times as children and I took Caroline there about 5 years ago when we went on the train and canoed in the lake. Never been at Christmas though, I bet it was lovely and a really different experience. After seeing Santa so many times, I’m dying to know if he brought Sophie her Skye toy??! #CountryKids

  4. I love reading about alternative Santa visits. This one sounds lovely and there was plenty of other activities onsite to make it a full day out. #CountryKids

    1. It was a great day out, it was just a shame we didn’t have more time to make the most of it.

    1. The history of the site is quite interesting. It was a lovely day out. Happy New Year to you too x

  5. Looks like a lovely place to visit. Those structures in the background look interesting too!

    Its so weird reading this and its about Christmas. Christmas is just few weeks ago but seems like so long time ago now.


  6. We loved our visit to Lappa Valley when we were at Coombe Mill – looks like you made the most of it. I remember being really interested in the history fo the site. We also visited in the spring time and it was lovely seeing it on a warm sunny day!
    Worth going back 🙂 #countrykids

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