A trip on the Northern Belle is an absolute dream from the second you step on board until the second you step off and on many people’s bucket lists for a very good reason. We are lucky enough to have taken two journeys on the beautiful train, the first time was for our 1st wedding anniversary which was an extremely generous gift from my nana and the second time was last week for a totally delicious and indulgent seven course Christmas Dinner.On both occasions, the trips were booked through Dove House Hospicein Hull who charter the train every year and run a different trip. The first time we set off first thing in the morning, headed to Chester, had a couple of hours to wander around at our leisure and then headed back. Last week it was a 6-hour loop from Hull up to Sunderland and back again. A percentage of the ticket price goes to the hospice which they then use to keep their facility open and provide the amazing service they do.
The Dove House Hospice is a centre close to my heart as I have seen first-hand how wonderful it is at some of the hardest times people will ever face yet they only receive funding to open their doors for just 37 days of the year. Therefore, where possible, I try to support them and the second to none service they offer my local community by providing care for people living with life-limiting illness.
Stepping aboard the Northern Belle is like stepping back in time to the 1930s, the golden age of rail travel and was the perfect setting for a lavish lunch. We arrived at Hull train station in plenty of time, eager to watch the luxury train and her seven beautiful carriages to pull up. We didn’t have to wait long and the gasps of excitement were audible throughout the station as she arrived. The Northern Belle has been in service since 2000 and offers exquisite day trips and short breaks and is, in my opinion, something that must be experienced to fully appreciate it.
Each of the carriages are named after a Great British castle or stately home. We were seated in Glamis, the first carriage of the train, which was mind-blowingly beautiful. Each of the carriages has been individually designed and has been lovingly restored to ensure an authentic experience is had whilst whizzing through the British countryside. As it was Christmas lunch, the carriages were also sporting Christmas decorations which made them feel even more cosy and luxurious.
We were seated on a table of two which made the experience feel very intimate and special for Mr ESLT and I. As soon as we sat down we were welcome on board with a glass of champagne if only I was greeted this way everywhere I went. We also started what was to be a fantastic meal with lovely little canapés. I’ll be honest I was too busy quaffing my fizz that I didn’t hear what the canapés were but I can confirm that they were delicious, especially the one with goats cheese on, which Mr ESLT hates so lucky me got to eat both of them.
As we hurtled through the Yorkshire countryside we were served course after course of out of this world food accompanied by champagne – it was the perfect way to spend a day with my lovely husband. Not only was the food spot on but the atmosphere was too, with a table magician and a trombone and guitar duo making their way up and down the carriages entertaining people as they went.
So what did we eat?
Mr ESLT – Truffled Fillet of Scottish salmon, double hot-smoked Scottish salmon, lightly curried salmon fishcake served with mixed leaves and a cucumber and dill dressing.
Me (as I don’t like salmon) – ham terrine with mixed leaves.
Celeriac and apple soup (with the option of pickled braeburn apple) served with a choice of bread, I opted for crusty white and Mr ESLT chose cheese and onion.
Roulade of turkey, duck and chicken with a cranberry and chestnut stuffing, pan-fried breast of partridge, Brussel sprout puree, fondant potato, braised red cabbage, roast parsnip and turkey gravy – it was amazing!
Next up was a selection of cheeses, biscuits and chutneys. As we are both really boring when it comes to cheeses we simply opted for a couple of English cheeses, however, there was a great selection and looking back we really should have used it as an opportunity to try some new ones.
Brandy and chocolate torte, amaretto biscuit crumb and cherry and kirsch sorbet. There was only the option of a home-made Christmas pudding with rum sauce, however, neither of us like Christmas pudding, therefore, we got double brownie (winners!)
Followed by alliance coffee and tea and a homemade mince pie – my first one ever!!!
With a £250 per person price tag it seriously was a Christmas treat but one I’m glad we indulged in, everything was superb – the train, the atmosphere, the food and of course the staff, they were amazing and it really did feel like nothing was too much trouble. If a trip on the Northern Belle is on your bucket list, you have the cash to splash and you are still unsure whether or not to take the trip – DO IT! Seriously you will not regret it; it is an experience you will never forget.