Whatever the time of year, there is always much to see and do here at the Watercress Line! Your ticket gives you all day travel, so you can take as many journeys as you wish and break your journey to explore the stations and board another train later on. It also allows you to pop out of the railway to enjoy the nearby walks and visitor attractions without worry. This way, you can ride behind the different locomotives that are in service as well as exploring each station and the surrounding area.
Alresford is an attractive Georgian market town and the home of Hampshire’s watercress industry, from which we take our name. The railway station is in the centre of the town, just a two minute walk from the picturesque High Street with its pubs, cafes and independent shops. There are some wonderful rural walks within easy reach of the station including the Millennium Trail which takes you down by the River Alre and the historic 13th century fulling mill. National Trust property Hinton Ampner is just also just a couple of miles away. The raised picnic area overlooks the cattle dock, giving a great view of the station.
A country station famous for its topiary, once housing only a small goods yard it has now become the engineering hub of the Watercress Line. The station building on Platform 2 houses a restored ticket office and a depiction of a typical station masters lounge.
Walk in Harry Potter's footsteps over the railway footbridge where he received his Hogwarts Express ticket; the famous film location from King's Cross station that is now here at the Watercress Line!
Ropley is home to our engineering works, where you can get up close to steam and diesel engines and get a fantastic view of all of the restoration work currently being carried out. The yard is open most days between 10am and 4pm, but please note that for your safety access is sometimes restricted when there is shunting, lifting or coal deliveries taking place. You are also welcome to visit our new Education Room upstairs in the loco shed, when it is not in use by groups, which gives you a unique view of locomotive restoration.
Across the line there is a picnic area, orchard and children's play area. All are located on an elevated area from which you can overlook the passing trains and our locomotive yard and sheds. There is a lineside path running westwards from Platform 1 which can be a good spot from which to take photos.
MEDSTEAD & FOUR MARKS
Situated close to the summit of "the Alps", Medstead & Four Marks is the highest station in Southern England. A typical country station, it is smaller and more peaceful than our other stations and offers a range of local walks.
The station building has been completely restored from the shell it had become in the 1970's and now houses a period booking office. The waiting room on the opposite platform contains an exhibition illustrating the history and transformation of the station. The footbridge offers a grandstand view of trains working hard up the long, straight 1 in 60 gradient from Ropley.
The Railway's Permanent Way, Signals and Telegraphs and Building Departments are based in the former goods yard and this is also one of the Wagon Group restoration bases.
There are two delightful walks you can take from Medstead station to Alton through the beautiful Hampshire countryside - don't forget to check our timetable to get the train back again!
Walk no.1 : Medstead & Four Marks to Alton
Walk no.2 : Medstead & Four Marks to Alton via Chawton village
Alton is the eastern tip of the Watercress Line, where we share the station with South West Trains (who use Platforms 1 & 2). Beyond the London end of the station is one of our Wagon Group restoration bases and the Railway’s three steam cranes are also stabled and maintained here.
Alton is a typical market town famous for its brewing tradition. The town centre is a short 10 minute walk from the railway station, offering a variety of pubs, restaurants and high street shops.
In the town centre the Curtis Museum houses one of the finest local history collections in Hampshire, including Roman and Saxon artifacts and a display about the notorious local Sweet Fanny Adams. Next door is the outstanding ceramics and pottery collection at the Allen Gallery.
Jane Austen's House in Chawton village is just a couple of miles away, easily accessible by taxi or take a short walk along the Jane Austen Trail spotting other important Austen locations along the way. Gilbert Whites House in the village of Selbourne is also within easy reach.
All photos courtesy Mike Pearson