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entry 20 Apr 2006, 20:24
On Easter Sunday my wife and I drove to the Isle of Purbeck with the intention of riding the rails to Swanage and having a walk by the sea. We parked in the SR's park and ride at Norden and purchased two adult returns to Swanage.

The service is quite frequent and soon we were boarding a train of BR Southern Region liveried green Mk 1 coaches hauled by a standard class 4. (With respect to a thread earlier this month, it was wearing an early crest). The short stretch into Corfe Castle is quite spectacular as the railway skirts the base of the castle mound. It is quite the highest mound that I have seen. The houses nearest the castle are interesting in their own right, especially the roofs which appear to be made of stone tiles.

At the half way point, we passed the other train working the line that day. The loco was an American 2-8-0 which had only arrived on the line during Easter week for a 3 month tour of duty. It normally lives in Staffordshire and only retired from the Chinese coal mines in the 1990s.

The line continues down a fairly steep grade. There are several occupation crossings which require whistles from the engine driver - the significance of this will become clear later. The train eased into Swanage and we alighted to visit the town.

Swanage is like a lot of seaside places which are "far from the madding crowd". The chain stores have not given the high street an "identikit" appearance, so it is worth visiting just for that.

We returned to the station in time to catch the last train which would get us to the park and ride car park before it closed. In fact we were a little early and the platform stood empty. We strolled to the end of the platform and waited. The wind was blowing off the land and on it we heard the distinctive sound of the 2-8-0's 5 chime Nathan whistle. The wind must have been quite strong, for it was actually some time before the train arrived in the station. After running round its coaches, the loco stopped by the water tower at the end of the platform to replenish its tank. Closing your eyes, the sounds transported you back to episodes of Casey Jones and The Cannonball Express. We climbed aboard for the 30 minute journey back to Norden.

All in all, an enjoyable day out. If you want full and correct details visit the Swanage Railway website

20th April 2006

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