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The Somerset Strimmer

Saturday 16 March 2019

This tour is now full, please call the office to be added to the waiting list.

The rails are rusty and the weeds grow shoulder high! No trains have operated along the branch line linking the national network with the East Somerset Railway at Cranmore for some years, causing many to think that maybe it would never see a train again.

But times and fortunes change. The chainsaws and strimmers will soon be carving through the mass of foliage and railtours will once again reach the neatly restored station at Cranmore.

Hauled by a Class 59/2 loco, a class very much associated with the Mendips, we depart from London Victoria, travelling via Olympia and Willesden (South West Sidings), calling also at Ealing Broadway, Slough and Reading before heading down the Berks and Hants Line to East Somerset Junction. Here we veer right and slowly approach Cranmore. Here we alight from the train and enjoy a break of around three hours.

During this time you can take a return steam-hauled journey from Cranmore to Mendip Vale (included in the tour fare) as well as exploring the engine shed and signalbox. There is a cafeteria at the station and an attractive Mendip stone built pub just a five minute walk away.

Leaving Cranmore early afternoon, we make a reversal at Merehead Quarry Junction and take the Merehead Quarry branch (by kind permission of Aggregate Industries). From here, heavy stone trains operate to terminals all over the south-east of England.

Our return route is via Westbury and up the winding valley of the River Avon, through Bath and round Dr Day’s Curve. We then travel via Filton and along the freight only line to Avonmouth, notable as it was built right across the runway at Filton. From Avonmouth we continue via Clifton Down to Narroways Hill Junction. We then retrace our earlier route to Hawkeridge Junction where we take the Westbury East Chord and rejoin the Berks & Hants Line to head back to Reading, Slough, Ealing Broadway and Victoria.

All fare include a steam-hauled journey on the East Somerset Railway from Cranmore to Mendip Vale and back.

All timings are provisional and intended only as a guide.

London Victoria07.5020.20
Ealing Broadway08.3019.40
Slough (for M25)08.5019.20