West Somerset Railway

Back in 2008 we camped on Exmoor and took the opportunity to take a trip on the West Somerset Railway.

At nearly 23 miles, this is a long heritage line. There’s a need for several trains in the summer. On our visit there were three different steam hauled trains and a diesel.

We boarded at Dunster where we could park easily and enjoy a cup of tea made by the man in the ticket office.

One of the disappointments of heritage lines is that tender engines have to run tender first in one direction. To enable them to run right way round hugely expensive turntables would be needed at each end of the line. So our train, when it arrived (which was spot on time) was to be a large GWR goods engine running backwards.

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The milepost shows we were 186 and a quarter miles from London.

At Blue Anchor we passed the diesel train.

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I’m not in any way an expert on these diesel trains but it looks like a suburban set that might, in the early 1960s, have been used in and out of Paddington.

At Williton we passed one of the other steam trains.

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Now for me that looks like a Western Region train of the 50s or early 60s. Wonderful! The engine is a 1927 design, but like most GWR engines its lineage can easily be traced back to the early 1900s.

We passed the third steamer AT Crowcombe Heathfield. This one, running tender first, failed to get up the hill without a rest first. It’s another heavy freight engine, but this one was used on the Somerset and Dorset railway.

We arrived at Bishops Lydeard where our loco could run round the train for the return. Now it was facing the right way.

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This photo was taken from the train as the loco worked hard up the hill and around the curves.

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We alighted at Watchet where we saw the place and the old Somerset and Dorset loco heading for Bishops Lydeard.

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Our onward journey was with the lovely tank engine.

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We took another break at Washford and then caught the diesel train through to Minehead. The great thing about these heritage diesel trains is that you could see out of the front of them.

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We had one more leg of the journey – back to Dunster and we got it right so we were pulled by the fourth engine, seen here running round the coaches.

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WSR – West Somerset Railway – was a very good experience.

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