Last week we were kindly invited along to for a day out with Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends at the Watercress Line in Hampshire – of course we jumped at the chance! Part of the Watercress Line runs through Alresford, which is one of our favourite places to visit for a Sunday walk, duck feeding and delicious lunch, and is just up the road which is ideal.
We arrived and were issued our ticket stub by the station master. Everything has been maintained to its original order which I love; the sweet, musty smell of old papers and leather books, all so authentic and old fashioned.
We had some time before the first train set off, so we had a wonder around the Alresford station platforms. Henry loved going over the bridge and waving to everyone on the other side of the platform, happily calling out to the other excited children.
Devious Diesel was chugging his way up and down the track taking passengers for a ride while they waited for the big trains to pass through, so we excitedly queued to jump on board. It was such a sunny Spring day, just perfect for a family day out. I love how there were older people without children there too, just sipping on a coffee taking it all in, the sun shining on their faces, the smell of soot and steam hanging warm in the air.
The trains run along 5 stations in Hampshire; Alresford, Ropley, Alton, Medstead & Four Marks and you’re free to jump on and off all day. We boarded the locomotive from Alresford, with the powerful steam engine up front pulling the carriages along, smoke billowing out of the chimney tooting its way out of the station. Everything was genuine and original and Henry was beaming from ear to ear that he was ON A TRAIN!!!
As we arrived into Ropley, having scoffed our “train picnic” whilst enjoying beautiful views across the Hampshire countryside, we disembarked to find a real carnival buzz of fun things happening. There was lots to do both inside and out, which would have been great had there been bad weather. We trundled up the hill and looked down onto the station, giving us brilliant views of all the activities going on at the station. Workmen busily painting old carriages, restoring them to their original conditions, and shovelling bins full of coal, soot falling to the floor in clouds of black smoke. Henry spotted the teacups so off we went for a ride. Everything on offer is included in the ticket price, which makes it real value for money, there were minimal queues also which was great. (as you may imagine with an excited toddler and overwhelmed baby in tow!)
It wasn’t quite warm enough for an outside picnic, but I can picture families lining the banks of the stations with their sandwiches and strawberries when Day Out With Thomas returns in the summer.
Once we had finished our rides on the teacups we felt the excitement in the air as crowds gathered at the look out, peering down for a glimpse…Thomas had arrived!
Henry’s face lit up – I wish I had caught it on camera, it was magical. We raced down to the track to meet him. It was great as although it was a sunny Saturday there weren’t too many people – we chose not to take the pushchair as we weren’t sure what it would be like but lots of people did and they could get on and off just fine – we definitely would take one next time as George didn’t get to sleep the whole day so was exhausted but just couldn’t give in to all the fun going on around him!
Once we had finished exploring all the activities, we realised the Big Man himself was on the other side of the platform – the Fat Controller!! He certainly lived up to his name and kindly signed a certificate for Henry and George to say they had travelled on Thomas. Henry was thrilled to have met him – thank you Sir Top Hat!
You can book online or simply pay on the day, which makes it ideal if you change your mind last minute. As far as I know they don’t tend to ever be fully booked.
Child (age 2 – 16 yrs) £12
Family (2A+2C) £54
Child under 2 yrs FREE
The travel ticket includes all the above and much more – it’s really good value for money as everything for the whole day is included. We packed a picnic but there is food available.
- An entire day’s travel on the big steam trains that run up and down the whole line.
(These trains run approximately every 30-40 minutes from 9:35am to 4:30pm).
- A free Thomas sticker and Day Out With Thomas certificate.
- Unlimited rides behind Thomas in his carriages or in Toad the Brake Van
- Unlimited rides with Iron ‘Arry and a friend of Diesel’s – you can even get in the cab with the driver!
LOTS of FREE activities!
- Thomas themed children’s entertainer
- Rides on the Minature railway
- Bouncy Slide (age 3+)
- Tea Cup ride
- Story corner and daily story time
- ‘Thomas & Friends’ Transfers
- Imagination Stations with Thomas playsets, colouring and DVD shows
We’ll definitely be returning! Let me know if you are thinking of going too! More info can be found online xx