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Saturday, 9 March 2013

Progress Report 3

I had quite a busy summer visiting as many railways as I could. I tended to focus initially on those in North Wales as many could be visited in a day from my home in Cheshire and also I wanted to make the most of my Great Little Trains of Wales discount card.

The railways in Wales visited since my last progress report include:

In addition, I have ventured into Staffordshire to visit

A brief trip to East Anglia (where I spent my formative years) provided an opportunity to visit

A visit to the West country for a family event enabled a visit to
Whilst a trip to Bridgnorth gave an opportunity to ride on the

A couple of  forays into Lancashire and Yorkshire led to visits to

and a flying visit to the Wye Valley resulted in visits to

I have been surprised at the number of railways which lie within the reach of a day visit, though the number of these is inevitably beginning to diminish. I have realised that the most productive visits are those which coincide with gala days as these provide more opportunities for photos and videos. However, this is dependent on my availability on those particular days.

Having now visited several 15" gauge railways, I have come to appreciate the historical significance of this gauge to the history of the narrow gauge in this country. The more I found out, the more I wanted to know and as a consequence I've blogged the results of my researches so far -  see The 15" Minimum Gauge Railways - a Chronology.

One of the things which has struck me during my travels is the enduring appeal of steam railways for most people. My trip on the Ffestiniog was taken during the February half term holiday and the train was packed - mostly with parents and young children. However, there was also a fair smattering of older couples. Similarly, even on a cold Saturday morning in February, the train at Windmill Farm was full.

My tour of the route of the Lynton & Barnstaple happened by chance. We were spending a weekend helping a friend celebrate a particularly special birthday in holiday let not far from Barnstaple and a half day became available for me to set off on my own to trace the route of the railway. It was extremely fortunate that the weather was very kind considering it was January. Having never visited the railway before, I now know the lie of the land and when I revisit the area to travel on the railway at Woody Bay, I will be able to fill in some of the gaps along the line caused by pressure of time (eg Snapper Halt, Parracombe and Wistlandpound). I was very impressed with the location for the railway and also by the enthusiasm and dedication of the enthusiasts I came across who were working on restoring the line. Mind you, this has been so with all those I've encountered on the railways visited so far - including some teenage volunteers on the Kirklees Light Railway who did much to restore my faith in the youth of today.

My intentions for this coming season are to complete my visits to the Welsh Narrow Gauge Railways and also to visit some of the railways which are open for limited days in the year (eg the Statfold Barn Railway, the Eaton Railway). I'd also like to spend a few days in Cumbria and maybe also visit the North East to take in some of their railways - but all this is speculative at this stage. I'd really like to visit the Isle of Man and Ireland - but maybe that will have to wait until another year as it looks like our holiday plans have already been finalised for this year.

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