Posts Tagged ‘West Somerset Railway’

Tight curves

May 26, 2016

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.


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.


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.

West Somerset Railway

November 29, 2013

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.


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

At Blue Anchor we passed the diesel train.


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.


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.


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


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


Our onward journey was with the lovely tank engine.


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.


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.


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