A dozen of us from our Writers' Group went on the Wensleydale Railway at lunch time today. We caught the steam train at Leyburn Station at 12.35 and trundled down the line to Redmire (about six miles) which is as far as the line goes in that direction. Then it was back to Leyburn and then about four miles in the other direction until we got to a place where there is a passing line - there the steam train chugged past to join the other end of the train and we returned to Leyburn. It was a jolly expedition.
I was looking out for signs of wildflowers on the track side. There has always been a history of flowers by the railtrack, as conditions are usually ideal for their growing - sheltered spot, good drainage etc. Most of them are well over and have seeded by now, but here and there were patches of soapwort, banks of rosebay willow herb, self-sown buddleias, ox eye daisies and plenty of ragwort.
Ragwort is poisonous to horses and apart from the roadside verges we see little in the fields as farmers are very good at removing it because of the danger but here on the sides of the railway line it flourishes.
There were lovely views over Wensleydale and Bishopdale, fields of sheep and cattle, the odd group of scratching hens with a magnificent rooster in one case, and here and there glimpses of the road so that we kept being reminded of exactly whereabouts we were. It was strange getting a rail side view rather than a road side one.
We took sandwiches and ate them on the platform at Redmire station, where we stayed for half an hour before beginning the return journey. The smell of steam was nostalgic and the rattle of the wheels brought back memories from train rides long ago. Now we must hope that the journey stimulated us all enough to produce some "railway" writing for our little booklet.
I hope you enjoy these photographs. You will see that an old style bus is waiting at Redmire station. This takes passengers on a further tour of the Dales before returning them to Leyburn.
Doesn't the Station Master look to be enjoying himself (the railway is manned by volunteers).