When we moved down to Hampshire we had no idea The Watercress Line would become so much a part of our lives.
On a day when the wind blows from the north the whistle of the steam trains cuts through the air as the trains travel in a wide arc behind our village and if the wind drops, a perfect trail of steam will track the trains location as it disappears into a cutting.
When we were scoping out our first book Binky’s Big Adventure, we knew we had to include the Watercress Line and what better way than to start our story with Binky, Katy and Mummy on a train.
Soot, Steam And Ice Cream
As a family day out, The Watercress Line offers a lot: a full gauge steam train and plenty of soot and steam. You can ride up and down all day, stopping for a picnic in the little orchard at Ropley and riding on the miniature train or staying on to Alresford and treating yourselves in the station buffet.
Indeed when the kids were little it was ‘our thing’ to cycle into Alresford where a slice of cake and a mug of tea was our reward and the children enjoyed an ice lolly and waving at the trains. For anyone over the age of 50 the slamming of the carriage doors is enough to take you back to different times.
The Watercress Line is part of our local Hampshire landscape: as we drive up and down the A31 the train appears on the embankment racing down to Alresford or chugging up the hill to Medstead and as we go on family walks beside the track we always stop to admire these huge trains with their beautifully restored carriages.
Even when I’m dog walking alone, I find it impossible not to wave at the passengers and driver as the train goes by and guess what, someone always waves back.