Wednesday 14 August 2013

Park and Ride by Steam!

We have recently returned from a holiday in Dorset. This time we were travelling by car, but even then it is sometimes good to leave the car and venture forth by train or bus (or, in one case, boat - but that is another story).

We visited Corfe Castle and Swanage on the Purbeck peninsula, and the road traffic there has difficulty squeezing into the small amount of land, not aided by the closure in 1972 of the branch line from Wareham. This is one of those lines which has been restored as a steam-operated heritage line, and although services do not operate (yet) all the way from Wareham, a new station has been built just north of Corfe Castle with a huge council-run car park so that a park & ride service can be offered using the steam trains.

Trains only run every forty minutes, so it is not like the frequent park & ride services we might find in bigger towns and cities, but in a tourist place no-one is in much of a hurry and the service is well used.

We turned up at Norden Park and Ride station and bought return tickets to Swanage. These allow break of journey, so we left the train at Corfe Castle and visited the castle for the morning, returning to the station to eat our picnic on the platform and then complete the ride to Swanage where we spent some of the afternoon. A static buffet car at Swanage station serves a pretty decent cream tea, too, whether or not one is travelling by their trains.

For those interested in railway history, this line does reasonably well at recreating the atmosphere of a BR Southern Region holiday branch line, apart from the rather frequent trains! It is well worth a visit, and spending some time at Swanage station, soaking up the atmosphere, is worthwhile, too. Breaking the journey at Corfe Castle, whether one visits the actual castle or not, is always worth doing. This is a lovely little place and with a train every forty minutes it is easy to adjust the length of a visit.

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