The Sandhill Explorer, Sat June 22nd 2022
We were lucky to have a BLS railtour right on our doorstep, the restricted RMT WCML strike timetable an irrelevance for us today. We ambled down to Pages Park on the LBNGR to wander round the shed and then tuck into breakfast rolls and coffee in the “Dobbers”.
Barclay 51 at the Park prior to the 1000 departure for Munday’s Hill
Once aboard the load 3 rake with fairly new arrival Barclay 51 up front it was obvious this tour was to have an atmosphere, everybody out to enjoy themselves. We departed Pages Park to immediately shunt back to the buffers and then the now rare platform 2 and then proceeded to do the headshunt and all 4 shed lines outside the shed.
With that little lot in the book we departed main line over Stanbridge Road and other crossings in warm sun. At Leedon loop we all piled out for a photo stop, like we used to do on mainline railtours. We continued North again piling out to view 24 at Chamberlains Barn Quarry branch jn, then taking the new deviation under the impressive (built for double track) Eastern Link Road tunnel. With 51 just out of the tunnel it was time for another photo stop, some opting for a mountaineering climb of the North bank.
The first photo stop of many, at Leedon loop
Back aboard, through Stonehenge after a brief stop and then for many, new track in the 0.35 mile double track extension to Munday’s Hill. Once 51 had run round here, you’ve guessed it, we all piled out for more photos!
51 looking good at the new Eastern Link road tunnel
51 at Munday’s Hill the end of the line
We returned to Stonehenge via the rare “Relief line” but it was Simplex sounds that interested me more. At Stonehenge 34 “Red Rum” of 1936 vintage uncoupled the first coach with Simplex 758009 (MR 8641) tailing her. Half the party wedged out the single coach for a noisy, atmospheric shunt to and from to many of Stonehenges sidings, the highlight for all being reaching the buffer stops of the long “ballast dock siding”.
Rare track the tour reaches the stops at Ballast Dock siding
Then it was time to view proceedings as the second group did much the same track albeit in a different order, those Simplexes sounded superb!
Rare track in Stonehenge yard with Simplexes 758009 and 34 Red Rum in action
With 758009 in the foreground at Stonehenge, 34 “Red Rum” shunts the coach back onto the main rake
Then at 1400 we returned “express” to Pages Park with a double run through Leedon loop to keep the bi directional neds happy. At Pages Park, after 51 had run round we were shunted inside the depot on track one, massive track! And then on emerging into the yard and daylight the tour was over to thanks to the LBNGR and BLS organisers alike, a cracking day!
Tour participants pile off 51 in Pages Park depot yard, tour over…