Like all young children, my two adore Thomas the tank engine. For Lia in particular, it’s her default position when she’s watching television. So when Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line asked if we’d like to visit their day out with Thomas, I couldn’t resist.
About Mid Hants Railway
Mid Hants Railway runs from Alresford to Alton, where it connects with the mainline service to London. It is affectionately known as the Watercress Line because in years gone by, it was used to transport watercress from Alresford to London. This heritage railway operates on a not-for-profit basis, with all profits going to the upkeep of the railway. The line operates a fleet of large steam locomotives, as well as other trains for specific events.
We only took the train between Alresford and Ropley, which is where Thomas was running from. But those two stations are just fabulous. Alresford is a little hub of activity and Ropley is set in beautiful countryside surroundings.
I was so impressed with the fact that Mid Hants Railway welcome dogs. When we were invited to attend, they let me know that Pluto and Bubbles were allowed to come too. They’re even able to travel on the big steam trains. Bubbles was particularly impressed.
Day out with Thomas
Much as we all loved the big steam locomotives, the main attraction was of course the day out with Thomas. Tickets to the event cost £18 for an adult, £12 for a child and £54 for the whole family. The event runs until 23rd April. For that price you get unlimited access to the whole of the Watercress line for the day. You are also entitled to unlimited rides on Thomas and the other engines.
In addition to this, there is a bouncy slide, miniature railway and tea-cup ride that are all free to use. We brought a picnic to the event so we wouldn’t have spent anything at all if our heads hadn’t been turned by candy floss and doughnuts. You can buy food from both Alresford and Ropley, with a 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.
Whilst both girls loved riding on Thomas, Libby had a favourite engine and remarkably, it wasn’t Thomas. They rode on a train that they thought was called Gator (I’m not really up on the engines). But the favourite was Diesel. All the staff at the event were incredibly friendly, but those on Diesel allowed Libby to ride in the driver’s seat. All the passengers rode in the driver’s cab and it was a really special experience for them. In fact, my husband has said that it was his favourite part of our whole holiday.
At Ropley, there was Thomas themed entertainment in a big tent. We didn’t make it to this because we were too busy on the trains and rides. However it was very popular and I could hear lots of music and excitement coming from the tent. At Alresford, Bertie the bus and a steam roller were outside the front of the station entrance. Both girls were delighted to have their photo taken with them.
When we arrived, the girls were given day out with Thomas passports. They had to fill them in saying what they’d seen and there were activities to do as well. At the end, they got a sticker to complete their passport. They also received a day out with Thomas junior engineer certificate.
We were at the event from around lunchtime until it closed at 5pm. We all agree that it was one of the best days out we’ve had in a long time. In fact, if we’d been staying in the area a bit longer we probably would have gone again. We’ll definitely be back to another day out with Thomas in the future, and we’d love to visit a different event at the railway too.