Reasons to visit the Mid Hants (Watercress) Line

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Please name as many reasons as you can think of to visit the Watercress Line, apart from simply riding the train from A to A (Alton to New Alresford). I am thinking of attractions belonging to the railway, seasonal events, even non-railway attractions!
 
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DerekC

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I have been there many times. Some of the events I can recall were:
  • Day out with Thomas (much appreciated by grandchildren)
  • Steam and vintage road vehicle rally (ditto)
  • Illuminated trains (very spectacular from a local public footpath about a quarter of a mile away)
  • Real Ale Train (highly recommended when it returns)
  • Miniature railway at Ropley (OK if you like that kind of thing)
The first visit by my first grandchild was not a success. He was very excited, but when this huge green hissing monster (WC Pacific) rumbled towards him he just burst into tears and didn't want any more to do with it!
 

Cowley

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War on the line events.
Diesel and Steam galas.
Authentic experience of travelling on a Hampshire Unit on a line that they ran on.
The ex Kings Cross footbridge at Ropley.
Alresford town itself (very pretty).
The watercress beds between Ropley and Alresford.
The gradients meaning locos have to work hard on the 1 in 60s either side of Medstead.
The reclaimed footbridges from various places including Cowes and North Tawton.
The completely rebuilt goods shed at Alresford.
The excellent view of the engine sheds from the picnic site at Ropley.
The footpath next to the railway heading towards Alresford from Ropley that follows the line and then heads towards the woods which is a lovely walk.
The juxtaposition of modern trains next to steam at Alton.
Medstead station and it’s wonderful wood and brick ambiance.
The interesting collection of old freight stock.
The vistas across the chalky hills.
I could go on…
 

Calthrop

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If one is a Jane Austen fan: in the village of Chawton, a little way outside of Alton and very close to the line, is the house where she spent the last eight years of her life. It is now a museum dedicated to JA and all to do with her; very popular with the said author's devotees. Should be easy enough, one reckons, to combine with a visit to the railway. Not something I'd ever do -- I seem, alas, to be deaf and blind to the delights of old Jane's writings.
 

xotGD

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Surely the most important reason is to stand at the front droplight and enjoy some thrash!
 

Calthrop

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In the old days of the line's being a through route west of Alresford, and part-and-parcel of the overall system; it was nicknamed "Over the Alps", as being a hillier and more difficult, but usable at need, alternative route for expresses Waterloo -- Southampton and beyond, to the main line via Basingstoke.

An enthusiast with plenty of time and money at his disposal; might conceivably embark on a project to cover (in whatever way possible -- following as closely as might be done, where the line had been abandoned) the several rail routes in Britain -- the Mid-Hants only one thereof -- which had been jokingly called by rail staff, "Over the Alps". (The imagined bod might indeed extend his operation to the real Alps, on the Continent :s.) Another such in Britain, was the Great Western's minor line between Cheltenham and Banbury -- through the Cotswolds and the lesser hills to their east -- first passenger withdrawal on which, was early in BR days. Obviously the Mid-Hants would feature as an item in such a collection.
 
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LSWR Cavalier

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Hearing the kiddies screeching "Thomas!", "Percy!", "Bertie!" is entertaining. And when Sir Topham Hatt appears, large as life, but does that scare some of them?

New Alresford is a perfect little town, and only a couple of minutes walk from the station, unlike some attractions at other lines.

The sponsored walk along the track back to New Alresford was good too, only did it once, we got a vintage bus to Alton so we could walk home.

I do not know all the others, but for me the Watercress Line is the Premier Line!
 

Galvanize

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*One of the railways who thanks to a generous offer from Porterbrook, took on a working Class 205 DEMU in 2004 after withdrawal from Mainline Service, you get the chance to ride one on a route it would have operated in the BR days pre closure in 1972!

*If you like Cider as opposed to Ale, the MHR quite often used to (hopefully still does!) stock Mr Whitehead’s Cider which is produced locally.
 

341o2

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If one is a Jane Austen fan: in the village of Chawton, a little way outside of Alton and very close to the line, is the house where she spent the last eight years of her life. It is now a museum dedicated to JA and all to do with her; very popular with the said author's devotees. Should be easy enough, one reckons, to combine with a visit to the railway. Not something I'd ever do -- I seem, alas, to be deaf and blind to the delights of old Jane's writings.
Pre Covid there was a vintage bus service from Alton to her house
 

30907

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If one (or one's female relatives) is/are connected with the Church of England, then Old Alresford is the spiritual home of the Mothers' Union, as its founder Mary Sumner was the rector's wife there. (The house is now known as Old Alresford Place; the town by the station is New Alresford.)
 

alf

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The former home of John Arlott, the famous deceased cricket commentator ..the Old Sun Inn..five minutes from Alresford Station but behind impressively high walls.
 

LSWR Cavalier

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Looks like a delightfully traditional corner of the Home Counties, diners on trains on the railway are expected to abide by a dress code, all the staff wear uniform too.
 

adc82140

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They've got a Thumper!
I had the privilege of driving it a few years back. I was booked on their DMU driving experience, their DMU broke down on the day (not sure they still own it) and they got the Thumper out for me to have a go on instead.

Although their main base is at Alresford, I would recommend arriving by train and starting your trip at Alton. There's just something about stepping off a Class 450, then crossing the threshold onto MHR premises and entering another era.
 

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