Yesterday, the Bure Valley Railway opened after a few months of lockdown.
I was very pleased to see it reopen and booked a ride on the 11 o’clock train from Aylsham, the first train after the reopening!
Rostered loco was No. 8 John of Gaunt. This was one beautifully prepared and polished loco. She gleamed in the sunshine.
I was in the last compartment of the train and I had a super view as we travelled down the line. It reminded me how pretty the BVR is and how the 15 inch gauge stock runs through the original standard gauge infrastructure. It was a great ride – like being in a first class observation coach !
A Wroxham No 8 was turned on the turntable.
Then coupled up to the train.
On the journey home I was immediately behind the loco. I opened the winows to enjoy the sounds on the engine. John of Gaunt made easy work of the loaded train but it was great to hear the exhaust note change as she pulled away, slowed down for crossings and as the driver opened the regulator to negotiate the inclines.
Perhaps, the best part was the smell. I had forgotten how alluring the heady mixture of coal smoke, steam and a little oil can be 🙂
The BVR have done a great job of making the journey as ‘Covid safe’ as possible. They have an online booking system (rather like they use for their Santa Specials) and your tickets are waiting for you when you arrive, no need to print anything out. They’ve introduced sensible one way systems, distancing markers and they’re asking everyone to wear face coverings on the station and in the shops. I’m pleased to say the vast majority of people did. (Me too, but I won’t provide a photo of that!).
In the coaches they are using three of the five compartments per coach, so there is a full compartment between different family groups. Plus they’ve installed soft plastic bariers between all compartments and there are two of these between you and the nearest people. The preparation must have taken some time, thought and money and I felt very safe.
Back at Aylsham No 8 was turned on the turntable and prepared to head off on the 2 o’clock train. John of Gaunt was originally oil fired and was converted to coal firing during a major overhall from 2005 to 2008. Further work was undertaken to reduce the size of the cylinders and enlarge the steam passageways in 2010 and she’s now a very efficient steamer.
I visited the cafe for a pastie, strawberry cake and a ginger beer – all very tasty. Then I changed my mode of transportation, jumped on my bike and headed off along the Bure Valley Path that runs alongside the trackbed.
It gives you a totally different perspective on the line.
Here’s the BVR permanent way train.
And here’s a cariage awaiting restoration.
Just outside of Aylsham station is the only tunnel on the line, it takes the BVR under the Aylsham bypass. In fact Wikipedia tells me this is the only railway tunnel in the county of Norfolk that is still being used by trains. In interesting claim to fame for the BVR !
The line runs through some absolutely stunning scenery. This is a lovely part of East Anglia and it’s a pleasure to travel along the cycle way / footpath. At 9 miles each way it’s easy to go ‘out and back’ on a bike (take your time and remember there aren’t any real hills!). It would be interesting to walk one way and travel back on the train. (Can you tell I prefer cycling to walking??).
Of course, they look even better with a train running through….
I had a great day out at the Bure Valley Railway and I’m very pleased to see they are running again. With miniature steam locos, lovely scenery, a very good model shop and tasty pasties there’s a lot to like 🙂