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Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Day out on The Mid Hants Railway (Watercress Line)

With freedom to see everything (well almost) and as many train journeys as you wish I think £20 for a day ticket was pretty good value.

I have visited this heritage line many times before and travelled on a train between Alresford and Ropley but, this was the first time I journeyed the entire route to Alton and back stopping off at Medstead & Four Marks and Ropley. Breaking the journey this way allowed us to catch four trains hauled by three different engines.

Starting at Alresford and after a quick look around the model/book shop we boarded the first train to Alton hauled by Class 2MT 41312. We stayed on board this train all the way to Alton, which was quite a slow journey due to waiting at Medstead for what seemed an age for another train to vacate the single line so that we could proceed.

At Alton it was time for lunch. Not much to be had on the station itself but in the car park was a 'greasy spoon' cafe. Bypassing this we headed for Waitrose next door for lunch in their in store restaurant.

Back on the next train, hauled by Class 4MT 76017 to Medstead. We alighted at Medstead for a look around. This is the base for the Building Department and goods wagon storage. Unfortunately wagons were not accessible but a converted goods store has an exhibition of goods traffic handling. It also held a good display of second hand railway books for sale by donation.

In the yard was a Stothert & Pitt loading crane. This was of particular interest to me as I spent time in the past researching and building a model of one of theirs using only photographs as reference. It was pleasing to see one 'in the flesh' albeit smaller than my modelled version.

I believe the Medstead crane came from The Grand Union Canal and not a railway!

The next train to Ropley was hauled by Schools Class 30925 'Cheltenham'.

Ropley is the locomotive centre so lots to see in this respect and a reason for visiting this day was to see The Flying Scotsman, arguably the most famous locomotive in the world. To see it yes but, to board it no, unless we forked out another £5 just to stand on the footplate! Declining this was no big deal considering we were satisfied by everything else we saw and besides, it is not even a Southern engine!

Our return train to Alresford was hauled by the same Class 2MT that we started with - a fitting end to an enjoyable day.

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