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Chuffing Brilliant Way for Kids to Let Off Steam this Easter

Audley End easter special

Jolly, steampunk bunny staff greet us at the grand gates to Audley End Miniature Railway’s beautiful Easter experience, set in the rolling green countryside of Saffron Walden's Chocolate Box-pretty, Medieval town in Essex.

Beside the tracks, more bunnies herald the arrival of the little, red steam train. It emerges dramatically through a plume of smoke, tooting its horn to the excited little ticket holders.

Children are given pencils and I Spy booklets, to check off magical Easter scenes studding the 1.5 mile, private track through the stunning woodland, landscaped by green fingered maestro, Capability Brown.

Audley End Miniature train

As we zip over picturesque bridges, past peacocks, pheasants, ducks and deer, through woods and beneath tiny tunnels, our children excitedly tick off wonderfully intricate, Easter scenes, from rabbits flying huge carrot planes, to giant eggs and elaborate bunny homes, bursting with giant daffodils - a tradition started by the Braybrooke family, who have owned the magnificent estate since 1762.

Audley End Easter scenes

The train pulls into a Spring farm-themed marquee, filled with pastel-coloured orbs and colourful Easter decorations, where we meet the Easter Bunny and mischievous farmyard friends, from pigs to horses, who interact with the children, perform song and dance routines, before presenting each child with a fluffy pig toy.

We continue our train journey to the beautiful, woodland play area for the next part of the Easter experience, where we are greeted by more bunnies.

Our daughter spots a fairy in the woodland, beckoning us over, so we follow her through floral arches to the pretty, fairy craft cabin, where two glittering fairies seat the children and help them to plant their own sunflowers to take home.

Audley End Fairy

From there, we walk through the Enchanted Fairy and Elf Trail, which is pure magic. Ticking each fairy off the I Spy booklet, the children discover a whole village of beautiful, handmade fairy houses, with intricate details and we learn about each of the tiny inhabitants, from the tooth fairy to the shoe fairy.

There are surprises around each corner, from an enchanted, talking mirror, to the troll living beneath the bridge. The children notice colourful biscuits and cakes dangling from the roof of a cage and are lured inside, like good little Hansel and Gretals, for the perfect picture opportunity inside the cage, which is emblazoned with a "Troll Food" sign.

Audley end fairy house

There is also a wonderful nature trail, including a Bug Hotel and worm house, which the children delighted in. And we emerged at the stage area of the picnic field, just in time for the fairy's show, where our children worked up an appetite, clapping and singing. Afterwards, we head over to the Woodland Cafe for children’s fairy lunch bags and excellent, Stone Baked pizzas for the grown-ups.

Then the children tear around the beautiful, wooden adventure playground, climbing inside the gingerbread house, through the giant train, over and beneath the bridges and viewing platforms.

Audley End play area

For four hours of magic, train rides, fairies, two stage shows and adventures, £20 per person is pretty amazing value.

We eventually have to bribe them back home, because they don't want to leave this magical, Easter wonderland... and we can't really blame them.

Audley End Miniature Railway, Audley End Road, Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4JB. Until 14 April. Adults and children over 92cm £18.50 - £20. Children under 92cm £9.25 - £10. Under ones go free.

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