Tight curves

The heritage line The West Somerset Railway is delightful in many ways. It runs neat, tidy trains and uses a good and suitable variety of motive power. It has length – some 23 miles of it between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead, so you get a decent ride through attractive countryside and along the coast. Photo opportunities abound.

As a rail enthusiast I have a taste for travelling in either the first or the last carriage. If you are in the first coach you can really hear the loco and that tells you just how hard it is working as it goes up hill or else taking it easy as it goes down dale.

But the rear coach provides photo opportunities when the line is curving for you can see engine and train up ahead.

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It looks as though I am not on the train, but I am and up the front we can see our loco. She’s puffing out plenty of spent steam so she is working hard. I was lucky with this photo. First of all, I have got a mile post in shot so I can locate it precisely as 170 and three quarter miles from Paddington.  It’s near Crowcombe Heathfield. Secondly, I love the serpentine curves of the track as it wends its way towards the Somerset interior. And I love the gangers hut, clearly kept in respectable condition by the volunteers who work on the line. And of course the curve is tight enough for me to see the loco quite clearly.

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Those two heads peeping out of the second carriage won’t have got anything like the view I got.

The loco, by the way, is really a freight engine but such locos were used on holiday excursions and are well suited to a hilly line. Small wheels gives them pulling power but also a lower top speed. That low top speed is no problem on the speed restricted light railways of the heritage world.

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