IT'S been quite a journey for one of the district's flagship tourist attractions.

For everyone from excited children to seasoned enthusiasts, South Tynedale Railway offers a great day out.

But the steam railway attraction, which runs engines along the old narrow gauge line from its Alston base, has endured a challenging year.

The South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society called a halt to its railway operations when the first lockdown was called in March.

The society revealed it was not viable to run trains with a reduced capacity to allow for social distancing, and the attraction's financial struggles came to light in September.

However, the following month, the society was successful in its application for emergency funding.

The railway was one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to be awarded a share of £1.57 billion from the Culture Recovery Fund for heritage.

And the £84,300 allocated for Alston was imperative to keep the attraction ticking over during the remainder of the pandemic.

It's only right that a tourist attraction, which is steeped in local history, is safeguarded, and should have a bright future to look forward to. Less than a decade ago, the society revealed ambitious plans to extend its attraction, which at the time ran from Alston to Lintley Halt, thus using more of the old narrow gauge line which originally closed in 1976. About four years ago, it was extended from Lintley Halt to Slaggyford, with the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. At the time, hopes remained high that one day the original line to Haltwhistle, would be revived. If that were to happen, it would be a remarkable achievement.