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Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway


RCD’s Overview

This heritage railway runs through very attractive Yorkshire dales countryside, running on part of the former Ilkley to Skipton railway closed by British Railways in 1968.  Its headquarters is at Embsay station, the line running a 4-mile section between there and Bolton Abbey station, just a short walk to the ruins of the abbey from which it takes its name, a popular tourist spot. The railway runs a steam service, mostly using former industrial steam engines. A trip on this railway can readily be combined with a visit to this part of the Yorkshire Dales.

The support group is the 'Yorkshire Dales Railway Museum Trust' (see 'Information on the Suport Group' below).


Happening This Month:

  • Go to 'Homepage' and click into 'Railway Club Calendar'

Key Facts (where and when)

Extent of Railway (where to where):

Embsay to Bolton Abbey (North Yorkshire)

Principal Visitor Centre:

Embsay Station (BD23 6QX)

Period of Operation*

- March to November (Most Saturdays and/or Sundays)

- April to mid-July, and October (Also selected weekdays, typically Tuesdays and Fridays)

- Mid-July and August: (Near daily)

- September (Near daily, except Mondays and Thursdays)

 [* This is a summary. Please go to the railway’s website for definitive operating days] 


Key Facts (what you’ll see)

Services usually steam or diesel?


Type of Steam / Diesel Locomotives Used:

Small industrial steam locomotives

Length of Line:

4 miles

Time taken for a round trip:

1 hour

Number of trains per day:

4 in each direction

Number of Stations:

3 stations


Adult Rover: £13.50 Senior Rover: £12.50. Child Rover: £7.50. Family: £35 (first class higher fares).

Time to allow for Visit:

2 hours





Picnic/Play areas:


Special Features:

Bolton Abbey Priory is 1.5 miles away from station

Preservation Established:


Car Park Facilities:

Parking at Embsay and Bolton Abbey stations.


Key Facts (Galas/Events/Dining)

Dining Trains:

- Carvery Express

- Pizza & Prosecco

- Afternoon Teas

- Fajita Fridays

- Winter Warmers

- Curry Express

- Fish And Chips Specials

- Ploughman’s Lunch                                                                               

Event Trains:

- Santa Specials: Late November and December                                                                               

Principal Galas:

- None currently advertised 


- Steam Driving Experience / Diesel Driving Experience

- Signal Box Experience

- Diesel Days/ Cab Rides



Email:                                                                  Use Contact Box

Telephone:                                                           01756 710614


Social Media:                                            

                                                                             Also on Twitter/ Instagram/ YouTube/ Pinterest


Brief History of the Railway and its Preservation  

Two dales run from the approximate direction of Leeds west and north towards the town of Skipton, the Airedale which runs via Keighley, and the Wharfdale which runs via Ilkley before heading northwards. Airedale had seen a Leeds -Skipton railway by 1847. However it was not until 1865 that a line was built into Wharfdale from Leeds, terminating at Ilkley. The line was subsequently extended to Skipton in 1888. The Beeching Report proposed closing the entire line from Leeds to Skipton via Ilkley, but ultimately the Leeds - Ilkley section was reprieved. The Ilkley - Skipton section however was closed to passengers in 1965. Although a preservation group was established in 1968, it was not until 1979 that concrete plans to re-open a part of the former line were developed. In 1981 the society succeeded in re-opening Embsay station, and then rebuilding the railway, reaching Bolton Abbey in 1998.


Principal Aspiration

There are long-term aspirations to extend the railway east to Addingham and west to Skipton.


Steam Operational Locomotives:

(1) Hunslet 0-6-0 - No.2705 ‘Beatrice’

(2) Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 - No. 1208 ‘Illingworth’        

(3) Hunslet 0-6-0 - No. 3794 ‘Cumbria’ [visiting]


Diesel Operational Locomotives/DMU:

(1) Heritage NER Railcar 1903 Petrol Electric Autocar - No. 3170            

(2) BR Class 08 shunter - D3941 (08773)

(3) BR Class 14 - D9513

(4) BR Class 37 - 37294

(5) Ruston Hornsby shunter - 887

(6) Hudswell Clarke shunter - D1307

(7) Barclay shunter - ‘Meaford No 1’

(8) Pacer Class 141 - 142 094


Steam Locomotives Under Overhaul:

(1) Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST - No. 22               

(2) Hunslet 0-6-0ST - No. S121 ‘Primrose’      

(3) Hunslet 0-6-0ST - No. S134 ‘Wheldale’


Diesel Locomotives Under Overhaul:

- BR Class 31 - D5600


Stored/ Under Restoration/ Out of Service:

- Andrew Barclay - 2320 (No. 22)

- BR Class 04 - D2203

- BR Class 08 - 08 054 (D3067)         

- BR Class 31 - 31 119 (D5537)

- BR Class 47 - 47 004 (D1524)

- Selby Fowler BOCM - 4200003

- Fowler HW Robinson - 4100003



Name of Support Group:

Yorkshire Dales Railway Museum Trust

Annual membership fee:

Adult: £22. Senior: £18.Student: £18. Junior: £12. Life: £400

Own Website:


Benefits of membership:                                  

-          Two complimentary tickets per year (not valid on special event days).

-          Thereafter, half fare travel

-          In house magazine, ‘YDR News’

-          Monthly e-newsletter ‘Newslines’

-          Optional weekly e-newsletter ‘Embsay Express’ (aimed at working members)

-          Full access to the volunteers’ website


How to Join:                                 Go to


What They Say About Volunteering:

The Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway is run by a dedicated team of volunteers – and we’d love you to join us. We have many varied roles available; clean, public facing roles selling tickets, working in the shops, cafes, assisting passengers, and also more physical roles such as working on the footplate as a driver or fireman or maintaining the track. The maintenance of our infrastructure – our historic carriages, locomotives and stations - much of which is over 100 years old, is a constant challenge. Our restoration work is only limited by the number of hours our volunteers can give and the funds which we have available.


How to Volunteer:                            Go to


How to Donate:                                Go to


WHY JOIN:  Help the railway achieve its extension aspirations.



Those interested in this railway may also be interested in the following railway societies also listed on this



Traditional Railway Societies:

- Midland Railway Society

- Bradford Railway Circle

- Giggleswick Railway Circle


Model Railway Clubs:

- Aire Valley Railway Modellers Club

- Keighley Model Railway Club

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