This year we were lucky enough to get a weeks holiday in Cornwall. Top of my list was a visit to the Lappa Valley Railway.
A 15 inch gauge line takes visitors from the car park station, Benny Halt, to the main leasure park, East Wheal Rose station. I was pleased to see that ‘City of Derby’ was the loco hauling my train. Based on the Class 23 ‘Baby Deltic’, it’s a chunky loco and strangely attractive. After the closure of the Markeaton Park Light Railway it moved to the Lappa Valley Railway where it has been totally rebuilt. City of Derby looked lovely and ran well – clearly the rebuild was successful.
The centre of the park has a boating lake with swan shaped pedalos, crazy golf and lots of activities for small children. There’s even the remains of the engine house of a silver lead mine, dating from mid 19th Century when the first tramways were built in the area.
We took a ride on the 7 1⁄4 in (184 mm) gauge Woodland Railway that runs around a smaller lake. The loco was the Advanced Passenger Train, well, a model of the APT build by Mardyke in the early 1980s. It was operating without the front ‘valance’ and looked a little odd, but it gave us a good ride around the lake.
After coffee and cake we headed back to East Wheal Rose where there are three platforms, each with a line of a different gauge. How many stations can make that claim!
This time we rode the 10 1⁄4 in (260 mm) Newlyn Branch Line. It’s an ‘out and back’ ride along part of an old standard gauge line. Rostered loco was ‘Eric’ an 0-6-0 diesel hydraulic built by Alan Keef in 2008 and named after the founder of the Lappa Valley Railway, Eric Booth.
Our return journey to Benny Halt on the 15 inch gauge line was headed by a 0-4-2, Exmoor tank locomotive. The loco arrived at Lappa Valley for the 40th anniversary of the line and was called ‘Ruby’. Exmoor locos have very similar design features and there is a strong ‘family resemblence’ that makes them very recognisable. However, this was the first time I’ve seen an Exmoor operating without a cab roof. I guess standing up in the cab gives the driver good visibility. It would look great on a model!
Here are some snaps…