The Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway runs 4 miles between the new award winning station at Bolton Abbey and Embsay station built in 1888.
The railway recreates a section of the former Midland Railway, Skipton to Ilkley Railway. Originally proposed in 1874 as an extension to the existing Midland Railway line at Ilkley, received its Royal Assent in 1883 and construction commenced in 1885, with the first train arriving at Bolton Abbey Station from Ilkley in the May of 1888.
The Midland Railway Company always interested in promoting new attractions changed the name, whether by accident or design changed the name of the station serving the village and famous monastic ruins of Bolton Prior to Bolton Abbey, subsequently the village has become known also as Bolton Abbey.
The line ultimately reached Skipton in 1888. The stations were constructed at Addingham, Bolton Abbey and Embsay and they served the local communities well. Little changed from their Victorian operation until the infamous Beaching cuts closed the secondary main line in 1965. The lines were lifted and scrapped and the stations abandoned. Until 1969 when the infant Yorkshire Dales Railway Society was formed to reinstate the railway and over the last 30 years the volunteers of the subsequently named Yorkshire Dales Railway Museum Trust, have relayed 4 miles of railway between Embsay and Bolton Abbey and constructed a new halt, in between the 2 at Holywell Halt.
The line is operated entirely by volunteers and trains operate every Sunday through out the year, Tuesdays from April to October building up to a daily service from mid July to the end of August. The line hosts many events during the year, its most popular being, Day Out With Thomas The Tank Engine events at Easter, Spring and August Bank Holidays, when this famous tank engine visits along with fellow tank engine Percy and the Fat Controller. Other events include 1940s weekend in September. Another ever-popular visitor is Santa Claus, who rides the line between mid November and Christmas.
All trains are hauled by one of the line collects of magnificently restored steam tank engines. During the summer in addition to the advertised steam service, vintage trains using Victorian and Edwardian carriages operate on Sundays between June and September. And it is even possible to enjoy a vintage train ride accompanied by a bowl of delicious strawberries and a glass of wine, on selected Saturday evenings during the summer. The line, which is a working museum, has gift shops at both Embsay and Bolton Abbey Stations, the Embsay Station hosting a famous railway transport bookshop. Both Stations have tea-rooms and picnic areas; there is ample free car parking at both Bolton Abbey and Embsay Stations.