“It’s like we’re on the Hogwarts Express!”

My Harry Potter-mad six-year-old son couldn’t contain his excitement as we boarded the steam locomotive at Pickering Station for our trip on the North York Moors Railway.

Puffs of steam and the familiar, nostalgic smell of coal and oil filled the air as we joined the Seaside Special service for our journey to Whitby for the afternoon.

Our spacious and comfortable compartment was the ideal place to set up camp for the hour-and-45-minute ride with three giddy children.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Waving at a passing train from our train compartmentWaving at a passing train from our train compartment

With all aboard by noon, it was full steam ahead towards the East Coast on one of the world's greatest heritage railways.

In true day-tripping parent style, we had planned ahead. We’d loaded up a picnic, story books, colouring pens and activity books.

But once the sandwiches had been eaten, there was no interest in the rest of the backpack’s contents - the real entertainment was out of the window.

The stunning countryside of the North York Moors wowed us all and we each agreed it was more interesting than any screens we could have been tempted to watch at home.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A family photo with our locomotive at Whitby StationA family photo with our locomotive at Whitby Station

We were thankful to be tucked away in our cabin with our excitable young bunch, who had fun shouting out what they could see as we crossed fields, streams and moorland.

We spotted animals at smallholdings, beautiful bright yellow oil seed rape fields, new lambs leaping around and more pheasants than we could count.

Looking out of the window to spot the steam engine chugging its way up the hills as we turned corners was a particular thrill for my four-year-old son.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: One of the North York Moors Railway locomotivesOne of the North York Moors Railway locomotives

A friendly volunteer came to check our tickets and remind us about the refreshment car selling snacks and hot and cold drinks.

We passed through four stations - Levisham, Newtondale, Goathland and Grosmont - and waved at the people who had come to see the steam train go by. Because everyone knows, no matter your age, when you’re on a tourist train or boat, it’s obligatory to wave to strangers as you pass.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Arriving in WhitbyArriving in Whitby

Just before 2pm, The Endeavour's tall masts came into view and we arrived at Whitby Station. We headed straight for the famous 199 steps leading up to the imposing abbey - quite a challenging climb while wearing a 15-month-old baby in a carrier!

We enjoyed counting each step on the way up and loved the view from the top out over the harbour, watching the fishing and tourist boats coming and going.

Soon it was time to sample some of Whitby’s famous fish and chips.

In the quaint surroundings of Church Street, among the many gift shops and jewellers selling shiny, black Whitby jet, we found Monk’s Haven, a welcoming little cafe with a family-friendly menu.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: On Whitby's famous 99 steps looking out over the harbourOn Whitby's famous 99 steps looking out over the harbour

Our eldest son was thrilled to find out in a conversation with our waitress that there were even more Harry Potter connections to our trip - Goathland Station that we had passed through was used as the location for Hogsmeade Station in the films.

After dinner, we treated ourselves to ice cream from nearby Sprinkles and made our way across the bridge to take a closer look at the beach and harbour.

The beach was still busy with families enjoying the extensive sands, and people walking their dogs.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Checking out the lobster pots at Whitby HarbourChecking out the lobster pots at Whitby Harbour

As well as being very family-friendly, both the railway and Whitby are very dog-friendly. Dogs are welcome on all North York Moors Railway trains, except dining services and some special events. Whitby beach allows dogs all year round, and there are lots of dog-friendly pubs, restaurants and cafes in the town.

After a walk along the West Pier, we spent a while in the arcade having some good old-fashioned fun on the two-penny pushers and horse race games and playing air hockey. We could have stayed for hours, but it was time to make the short walk back to the station.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Settling into the train compartment for the return journeySettling into the train compartment for the return journey

Just before 6pm, after a quick photo with the engine, we settled into our compartment once again for the 24-mile return trip.

After our busy day, the journey back to Pickering was much more subdued.

"Can we go on a steam train to the seaside again tomorrow, Mummy?" asked our four-year-old son. Praise indeed for a lovely family trip.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A family photo overlooking WhitbyA family photo overlooking Whitby

  • The North York Moors Railway will host its Annual Steam Gala from September 22 to 25. Attractions include a beer festival at Goathland and Levisham stations, showcasing a selection of real ales and ciders from local breweries, and Pickering Station will host an array of trade stalls featuring railway memorabilia and model railways.
  • Tickets for the 2022 Seaside Special service are priced from £41 per adult and £20.50 per child. A compartment for up to six people costs from £110. Family tickets are also available. Seaside Special services depart from Pickering at 9.20am and noon. All-day parking is available for £5 in the dedicated NYMR car park at Pickering Station.
  • Visit nymr.co.uk for full details.

Want Bradford’s top stories delivered straight to your inbox each morning? Sign up to our newsletter to get our daily bulletin.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.

Have you got a story for us? Email newsdesk@telegraphandargus.co.uk or contact us here , WhatsApp us on 07720403052 or call us on 01274 705292.