The cry of a steam whistle could be heard ringing out across Coate Water as families enjoyed their first trip on a narrow gauge railway in more than three months.

The Coate Water miniature railway has been shut during the lockdown. It reopened last weekend, with chairman Les Stiff telling the Adver: “We’re pleased we’re able to run again. Once we had all the various procedures in place all the members of the public were appreciative we were open and they were good with their social distancing. There were no issues at all.”

Social distancing rules mean families have to sit on every other ride-on carriage. The trains take eight to 10 minutes to run the mile-long track, with people able to see the new brick tunnel fronts put up by a local builder during lockdown.

On Sunday, Stella Burnett and sons Zac, six, and Ollie, three, were first in the queue for the 11am departure.

Stella, 38, said: “We’ve heard they’ve extended the track during lockdown and we’ve come to see it.” Asked what his favourite bit of riding on the train was, Ollie said: “When they blow the horn.”

Coate Water Railway chairman Les said: “This is the first year I can remember that every bank holiday has been absolutely gorgeous, but of course we weren’t able to run.”

Asked about why families kept returning to ride on the miniature trains, he said: “I don’t know whether it’s the smell, the sight or the steam, but there’s something about steam.”