Published on: Monday, 28 June 2021
Last updated: Monday, 4 September 2023
Picture an eco-friendly journey through wildflowers, past bug houses, bird boxes and slow worm homes, as East Anglia’s huge blue skies roll by.
A tour of Greater Anglia’s rural rail stations by train offers a day out with a difference filled with the romance of Victorian railway heritage and the peacefulness of havens for wildlife and wellbeing - as many of them now boast beautiful community gardens.
With an Anglia Plus ticket, a whole day of discovery costs less than the price of a three-course meal.
The beauty of this ticket is that you can hop on and off the train as many times as you like so you can visit more than one destination in a day. It covers all stations in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Cambridgeshire.
Leave the car behind and hop aboard our spacious and comfortable brand-new trains – which all feature dedicated cycle spaces, good accessibility, free wifi and toilets and baby changing on board.
Here are some of the most stunning station gardens that you explore on an Anglia Plus ticket, along with suggestions for nearby attractions:
This stunning wildlife garden on platform 2 is a magnet for birds, bees and butterflies – take a look at the notice board to find out what the volunteers there have been doing to encourage wildlife and don’t miss ‘The Fearnal Destination’ – a quaint fearnery almost hidden in a now disused part of the old station building.
Nearby: From the station walk through the town to the 12th century Thetford Priory – burial place of the Earls and Dukes of Norfolk – or visit Castle Park to see the remains of the town’s motte and bailey castle and iron age fort.
West Runton is a beautiful station and the team of adopters work very hard to keep the gardens looking bright and welcoming. First opened in 1887, West Runton Station is situated on the Bittern Line between Cromer and Sheringham and is one of only two surviving Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway stations still in use on the main UK rail network, the other being Cromer.
Nearby: From the station walk into the village and enjoy a ramble on Ingleborough Hill or head to the beach for rock pooling and fossil hunting.
Volunteers here are transforming 72 square metres of disused railway land into a community wildlife garden, complete with lecterns to help you identify the wildlife you observe.
Nearby: From Westerfield, take the 119 bus from opposite the Railway Inn to stunning Helmingham Hall Gardens with its historic moated manor house, knot garden, rose garden, orchard, walled garden and deer park.
Somerleyton station was recently featured on Radio 4’s Today programme as an exemplar of a wildlife friendly station. The volunteers here have, over many years, carefully conserved the wildflowers that naturally arrive at the station and have also introduced a buckthorn hedge which is helping the Brimstone Butterfly and rare Wall Brown to thrive here.
Nearby: Visit the magnificent stately home of Somerleyton Hall, with its gardens and famous Maze, or enjoy the surrounding marshland or pretty village centre with its thatched cottages and green.
So much care has gone into Cantley station’s platform gardens and they are a true delight in the summer – even Alan Titchmarsh once remarked on their beauty when travelling through the station! Look for the iconic boat with its unique pyracantha sail.
Nearby: From the station head down to Cantley Staithe to watch the boats meandering along the river, get an interesting view of the sugar factory or enjoy a countryside walk.
The team of volunteers at Reedham station have transformed the station gardens with a view to supporting wildlife, and they have even opened a museum in a redundant building at Reedham rail station to tell the story of the first railway in Norfolk.
Nearby: Families with younger children will love Pettitts Animal Adventure Park with its funfair rides and friendly animals, as well as The Meerkat Kingdom, Dino Jeep Safari and Ice Cream Parlour. Or wander down to the Ferry Inn on the River Yare and take a look at Reedham’s unusual chain ferry which forms the only vehicular crossing point between Norwich and Great Yarmouth.
Dullingham is one of the only rail stations in the UK to have a pond on the platform! The community is taking the station on a ‘green journey’ with wildlife friendly initiatives in abundance and the recent installation of four bright murals made from upcycled doors.
Nearby: Dullingham is mentioned in the Domesday Book and has a village green and several historic buildings including a Maltings, Guildhall and Workhouse. The ancient Icknield Way long-distance footpath also passes through the village.
All 56 station gardens on our network have been pledged to WildEast – a movement which aims to give 20% of the region back to nature by 2050. WildEast hopes that over 1,250,000 people from across the region will make their own nature pledge to help reverse the shocking decline in the area’s native wildlife which is suffering badly from habitat loss. Find out how you can get involved at www.WildEast.co.uk
Above: Map showing where the Anglia Plus is valid
You can choose between an Anglia Plus One Day Ranger or a 'Three Days in Seven' Flexi Rover, and there's no need to book in advance - just turn up and go! These tickets can be purchased on the day of travel from any staffed Greater Anglia station or from the conductor on the train if you start your journey from an unstaffed station.
Anglia Plus One Day Ranger
Spend the day travelling wherever you like within the Anglia Plus area for just £24.70 per adult. Up to four accompanied children can travel with each adult for only £2.00 per child with this great value fare.
In some places you can even use the ticket to travel on local bus services.
All the information you need is here: https://www.greateranglia.co.uk/tickets-fares/discounts/rangers-rovers/…