Please note that the dates for these tours may vary from the guide below. No tours will be offered until international borders are open.
At last, we awoke to a sunny day and as it was sunny we were visited by a little Red Breasted Robin who chirped a welcome. Following that lovely start to our day, we boarded our coach and headed towards our railway for today, The Bluebell Line.
As we started our journey we again delved into our Bradshaw's. Interestingly, from our passage in Bradshaw's this morning he mentioned the viaduct over the River Ouse. Bradshaw said "that it was one of the finest works in the Kingdom. It consists of 37 arches and its summit commands extensive views over the surrounding country". Bradshaw also informed us that in nearby Cuckfield there was a Money Order Office. It seems that there were Money Order Offices in most of the villages who were designated as a telegraph station.
We travelled through beautiful countryside including roads where the trees had grown over the road forming arches and finally arrived at the Bluebell Railway's Sheffield Park Station. The line is the UK's first preserved Standard Gauge passenger railway. Reopening part of the Lewes to East Grinstead line of the old London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. It has developed into one of the largest tourist attractions in Sussex.
Our train booking was for the 1000 train so we boarded our reserve coach and settled in to watch the countryside as we trundled towards East Grinstead 11 miles away. East Grinstead is the end of the line so after a short wait while the Locomotive was looped around to the front of the train, we set off on our return journey. Many beautiful photos were taken from the train and we even saw 2 train spotters, one a fellow on a step ladder and the other, a pheasant who while doing his train spotting actually waved at Vince or maybe as it was not the shooting season, put up one finger, we will never know!!
There are 4 stations on the line and Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes and Kingscote were all built in the traditional Queen Anne style in 1882 by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and have all, especially Horsted Keynes, been seen regularly on television and in films, including Downton Abbey, The Muppet Movie and Churchill Secret.
Following the ride in the train we were able to visit the sheds, where there were many locomotives and the museum. Lunch in the restaurant was taken when one was able to drag themselves away from such wonderfully preserved Locomotives and various support infrastructure.
Tomorrow we leave Tunbridge Wells and head to Cheltenham but not before Didcot and the Swinden and Cricklade Railway. A great day but there is more to come.