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“A Spirit of Adventure in the Forest” – A visit to Perrygrove Miniature Railway in the Forest of Dean.

Saturday 4th August 2018 was another beautiful sunny day.

We decided to take a brief excursion down to The Perrygrove Railway. Having packed some cold drinks and a few sandwiches we headed off towards Coleford in The Forest of Dean.It was not a long trip and very soon we were pulling off the road into a large shady car park. As I killed the car’s engine, we herd the resonating “toot toot” of a steam loco.

The sound made us both smile as we headed up the track towards the entrance. We were greeted by the sight of a Hunslet named “Jubilee”, stationary, in a siding. We purchased two tickets in the booking office and finding we had a little time to spare we decided to buy hot beverages and eat our picnic outside the booking office and small café.

The walls of the buildings were adorned with some lovely informative bill boards. One particular board caught my eye, “Explore Lydia’s Boiler”. This showed a diagrammatic view of a steam boiler and gave a simple but clear explanation as to how a steam engine actually works. It seemed to me that Perrygrove has made a big effort to entertain and educate young children. They have an adventure playground including a tree house. Youngsters are also encouraged to take part in a treasure trail.

The engine shed was closed, much to our disappointment, as we would have liked to have seen ” Soony” an American 0-4-0 Baldwin Switcher Tender loco that he knew was housed at Perrygrove (I get all these extra snippets of information being married to an enthusiast). The Soony is only brought out on very special occasions as it is a small engine and is unsuitable to pull heavy loads.

 

Picnic finished, it was not long before an 0-6-0 freelance narrow gauge loco “The Spirit of Adventure” chugged into the station. My hubby informed me that she was built by “The Exmore Steam Railway” in 1993 and that she had Walschaerts valve gear. We then had quite a debate as I suggested that she was a Pannier tank engine and hubby declared that she was a side tank engine (can anyone settle this argument for us?). Debate aside I do have a soft spot for Steam engines and I thought she was exquisite, beautifully presented with a very tidy cab.

The Guard, a very jolly chap, found us a free seat in one of the five carriages and we hopped aboard. Green flag waved and whistle blown we were off on a meandering route that doubled back past the station and on through fairly dense woodland, clearing a little at Rookwood Halt were we paused for a while. Setting off again we meandered on up, arriving at Oakiron where the loco was uncoupled and ran to the other end of the train for the return journey. Many families with young children alighted here to picnic by the adventure play area. This is a very child friendly railway.

The return journey was equally as pleasant for us two old fogies who remained on board. Back at Perrygrove I purchased a couple of Christopher Vine “Peter’s Railway” books. I was very impressed by the selection that they held. I also treated hubby and myself to a huge ice cream.

We arrived home and my husband immediately went onto the internet and found me a picture of “The Soony”. I shall definitely be heading down to the Forest of Dean when they next bring her out for the day.