Dear Mummy, recently we went to a Day Out with Thomas where we met the REAL Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends. I’ve been watching Thomas since I was a baby so when Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line asked if we’d like to visit their Day Out with Thomas, we couldn’t resist!
There’s something so magical about riding on steam engines, smelling the coal and hearing the chugging and whistling. It’s sensory overload and a great way to create lasting memories. Last time we visited it was glorious picnic weather, however this time it was a bit dreary, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. When I arrived I was handed a ‘Day Out with Thomas’ passport with activities to complete at the railway in order to obtain a sticker and Thomas junior engineer certificate. I was so excited as I could hear the trains from the car park!
Mid Hants Railway runs from Alresford to Alton in Hampshire, where it connects with the mainline service to London. It is known as the Watercress Line because in the olden days it was used to transport watercress from Alresford to London. This heritage railway is not-for-profit and the staff running the railway are passionate volunteers who are super helpful and friendly encouraging a new generation of train enthusiasts.
As soon as we walked through the entrance we were transported back to the age of steam with staff dressed in period clothing and bunting flying. I loved that the stations were so authentic as it really added to the feel of the day, like something from a pretty postcard with beautiful flower beds and manicured hedges.
The staff were wonderful and were all kitted out in traditional uniforms. They are obviously very proud and knowledgable about both the line and the trains and were more than happy to share their knowledge with us while on the platform in between trains.
There are four stations; Alresford, Ropley, Medstead & Four Marks and Alton. We decided to travel all the way to Alton then back to the beginning of the line in the opposite direction while it was raining. However on the way back the sky cleared so we took advantage of the brief sunshine and stopped at Ropley to see the magic show with Rusty and the Fat Controller.
Ropley is where Thomas was running from and where the majority of attractions were held, like the vintage fairground rides and food stalls, the magic show and the miniature railway. Alresford is a little hub of activity too being in a village setting and Ropley is set in beautiful countryside surroundings with the famous Kings Cross footbridge that featured in the Harry Potter films.
Thomas was the main attraction at this event and we got plenty of opportunities to ride in his carriages and take photos. Tickets to the event cost £18 for an adult, £12 for a child and £54 for the whole family. For that price you get unlimited access to the whole of the Watercress line with train rides and unlimited rides on Thomas with themed activities thrown in.
At Ropley, there was Thomas themed entertainment in a big tent and a vintage fairground included. At Alresford, Bertie the bus and a steam roller were outside the front of the station entrance for photo opportunities too. Everything was spread out across the four different stations which meant that they didn’t feel busy and at one point we had all the fairground rides to ourselves!
We brought a picnic to the event but you can also buy food from both Alresford and Ropley stations, with a posh burger van at Ropley and snacks available from Alresford. There are plenty of places to have a picnic and you can also eat on the steam trains.
We definitely made a full day of it and where there for over 6 hours and even though it was raining it was a very enjoyable day. If you’re looking for something unusual to do with the kids in Hampshire, we’d recommend a Day Out with Thomas this year.
Love Bella x
Disclosure: We were offered a family ticket to the Watercress Line in order to conduct our review. All ‘Choo Choos’ (see video) and train antics are our own.