Last weekend we were invited to the 30th Birthday Gala for Moors Valley Railway.
It wasn’t until the event that I discovered that its origins went back to 1980 when Jim Haylock set up a miniature railway at Tucktonia Miniature Theme Park in Christchurch – somewhere I have very fond memories of visiting as a child.
The miniature railway then moved to the Old Kings Dairy Farm at Moors Valley five years later and opened to the public on 26th July 1986.
Moors Valley Country Park is somewhere we have visited regularly since my eldest children were small as there is so much to do for all ages and it remains a firm favourite with all the family.
Sebastian is train mad, so every visit we have to take a trip on the railway which is a recreation in miniature of a traditional British Railway complete with stations, locomotives, rolling stock, bridges, tunnel, signal boxes, carriage sheds and engineering workshops – in fact the Moors Valley Railway is the south’s longest, fully signalled narrow gauge 71/4 steam railway with the main ride being a mile long.
For the Gala celebrations not only did we get taken on a very special loop of the Moors Valley Railway, but we got to look behind the scenes too.
In its 30th Moors Valley Railway has carried over 3 million passengers, over 100,000 each year. A typical train consists of a barrier wagon, 11 coaches and a guards van and can carry around 65 passengers.
The workshop was fascinating as it is a true main line in miniature and has seen the construction of over 20 steam and two diesel locomotives, many of which were out on display.
Of course the day wasn’t all about the trains as the kids were keen to explore the other things the park has to offer.
Moors Valley is somewhere I always recommend to visitors to Hampshire and Dorset as there is just so much to do with over 1000 acres to explore. There is forest trails (nature, play and story), kids parks, cycle tracks, an 18 hole golf course, fishing, the railway and picnic areas plus Go Ape, the award-winning tree-top adventure course with Tarzan swings, zip wires and Segways to try your hand at.
The Rangers also arrange over 300 special events throughout the year, ranging from nature walks, fishing lessons and off-road cycling to miniature railway events, art and photographic exhibitions and golf coaching. For children at the moment there is the Young Ranger challenge which involves 40 exciting challenges to complete and Joanne from CharlieMoos and her family have been busily ticking them off.
After burning some energy off in the park, we, and the CharlieMoos crew tried our hand at some Go Ape fun. Keep your eyes peeled for a post coming soon ………….
Special events at Moors Valley coming up soon are:
6th November 2016 – Tank Engine Day
10th/11th and 17th/18th December – Santa Specials