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Enjoy a trip on the Watercress Line

Standard Travel trains leave from either Alresford or Alton.

  • Trains leave Alresford at 11am and at 2.30pm for a 3 hour visit.
  • Trains leave Alton at 10.50am and 2.20pm for a 2 ½ hour visit.

'The Watercress Express', leaving from Alresford

Beginning your journey at Alresford where the Watercress that gave the Line its name was sent all over the country by train and where you can still see the goods platform behind the signal box where it was loaded, the train leaves heading for Alton. From Ropley where there is a brief pause for water and to let other trains pass when necessary, then your train will run non-stop. The railway was built as a mainline and was used to connect London with Southampton and the docks, so you will be experiencing the railway as most travellers would have done in the first 70 or so years of the railway’s existence.

The line climbs all the way from Alresford through Ropley to Medstead and Four Marks, before dropping down to Alton. Enginemen called it "going over the Alps”.

At Alton there is time to stretch your legs, and watch as the engine is run round from one end of the train to the other, before another assault on the hill, takes you to Ropley where you will have around 40 minutes to enjoy station and the option to get refreshments and souvenirs.

Ropley was a sleepy country station until the preservation company took over in the 1970s when it became the loco shed for the railway. Here you can see the engines and carriages being restored. Ropley hasn’t lost its charm though, the famous topiary which is around 150 years old still lines the platform, and from the picnic area where you can enjoy tea, coffee and light refreshments, there is a view over the railway and the gorgeous countryside beyond.

When your train leaves, it will once again be climbing a hill as you travel back up the line to Medstead and Four Marks. This was the highest station on the whole of the old Southern Railway. In the winter the weather can be radically different here to either end of the line. Sunshine in Alton and snow at the top of the hill.

From Medstead the train returns back through Ropley once again running as an express to return you to the start of your journey at Alresford.

'The Altonian', leaving from Alton

Alton was the principle town in the area and gained a railway in 1852, 12 years before the line through to Alresford and beyond was built. Today there is still the mainline connection to London. From here the train climbs up past the Brewery that made Alton so important (sadly now closed). The line passes above the Alton Butts where once archers would have practised on a new bridge completed last year. Here there was once a junction with not one but two other lines, one to Fareham and one to Basingstoke, and the railway starts to climb steeply to Medstead and Four Marks where it then falls continuously all the way to Alresford. With no stops between Alton and Alresford you will be experiencing the railway as most travellers would have done in the first 70 or so years of the railway’s existence, as it was built to be a mainline connecting London and places such as Bournemouth and Southampton.

Alresford is the first stop. This is where the Watercress that gave the Line its name was sent all over the country by train and where you can still see the goods platform behind the signal box where it was loaded. Your engine will run round the train here, and then take you up the hill to Ropley.

Ropley was a sleepy country station until the preservation company took over in the 1970s when it became the loco shed for the railway. Here you can see the engines and carriages being restored. Ropley hasn’t lost its charm though, the famous topiary which is around 150 years old still lines the platform, and from the picnic area where you can enjoy tea, coffee and light refreshments, there is a view over the railway and the gorgeous countryside beyond. You will have around 40 minutes to enjoy the station and the option to get refreshments and souvenirs.

When your train leaves Ropley it will be back down the hill to Alresford, before making another express run, this time to Alton "over the Alps" as the enginemen called it because of the sharp up and down profile of the line.

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