Victorian-built Warmley railway station closed to passengers 56 years ago but there are still queues of people snaking along the platform every day. The cream and burgundy-painted wooden waiting room on the platform is now a popular cafe adjacent to the hugely popular Bristol to Bath cycle path.
On the cold and damp morning I visited, there was still a queue for the entire duration of my stay. As well as local dog walkers, there were endless groups of cyclists stopping off to refuel on hot drinks and snacks. I’ve never seen so many red-faced men in Lycra waiting for their restorative cups of coffee and sausage sandwiches.
The Warmley Waiting Room is now run by James and Kate Lindsay and it remains open all year round. Although many customers stop off for takeaway food and drink for the onward journey, there is a cosy wooden cabin and covered outdoor seating for those who want to stay that little bit longer. The spotlessly clean outside toilet is a replica of Dr Who’s blue Tardis. Apparently this unique police box portaloo has won awards in its own right.
The former waiting room is now the kitchen where everything is made to order, from the sandwiches and baguettes to the ploughmans and the children’s lunch boxes. Prices are kind on the wallet. A toasted teacake with butter and jam is £2.40, egg and bacon rolls are £4.50 and sandwiches will set you back £4.
There’s also a blackboard of warming specials, from BBQ pulled pork rolls and Heinz beans on toast to cream teas and soup of the day (lentil and spinach dahl on the day I was there).
I went for the homemade chilli con carne jacket potato (£5.95) ‘made to the Hairy Bikers recipe’ and it was fantastic. Served with a ruffle of dressed salad, the piping hot potato was soft and fluffy with a generous topping of rich, spicy chilli con carne.
On a bitingly cold day, it was the lunchtime equivalent of a cashmere sweater and I washed it down with a steaming paper cup of builder’s tea (£1.60). As I walked back along the platform, past the life-size metal railway conductor, the queue was still growing despite the slate grey sky and drizzle.
But then the Warmley Waiting Room cafe is a unique and uplifting destination serving affordable comfort food. The train may no longer stop there but it’s still well worth the detour.
Warmley Waiting Room, Bristol And Bath Railway Path, Warmley, Bristol. BS30 5JB