The watercress line operates between Alresford and Alton, with stops at Ropley and Medstead in between. The Watercress Line opens at certain times of year to host special events. Last year we attended The Santa Special, which is running again this year too, The event that we attended was the Wizard weekend.
The kids had been excited about this event for weeks before hand and had already made their choices about what they wanted to do! The girls had chosen to hold a bird of prey and J had decided he wanted to go on trains to either end of the line.
When we arrived at Alresford station, we managed to find a car parking space fairly easily. We’d arrived 10 mins early to make sure we had plenty of time to check in. First impressions on waiting to have our tickets checked was how much thought had gone into to making the ticket office and station spooky with webs, pumpkins. Even the staff had dressed up. We were handed a leaflet with all the events on that day, and importantly the train timetable. Its worth checking when the last train departs from the other three stations back to the station where you parked to make sure you don’t get stuck.
Having had our tickets checked, we decided to jump on the waiting train to get straight to Ropley, where the majority of the activities were based. I was impressed how kids, mums, dads and grandparents (even dogs) had got into the spirit of the event by dressing up. The kids had been handed some crayons and pictures to colour to keep them occupied, which kept them entertained until we arrived at Ropley.
There were lots of activities to choose from at Ropley, from the miniature railway to face painting. We decided to go on the miniature railway first (the sweets bucket which they could help themselves to a packet definitely helped keep them entertained whilst awaiting their turn).
The best bit of the day by far for all the kids was being able to hold an owl. They were given a special glove to put on to hold the owl. They were all enamoured watching its head turning. The owner was great as he talked to them in turn about the owl they were holding.
There were lots of picnic benches overlooking the station and the trains coming and going that we decided to stop for lunch. We’d brought a picnic with us and would recommend bringing one as the kiosk at Ropley only had a small selection of hot/cold drinks/snacks on offer.
After lunch we decided to wander across Handyside bridge, which was made famous in the Harry Potter films. There was a dressing up box where kids could try on Harry Potter gowns, glasses and ties and then pose with a trolley full of luggage.
Whilst waiting for the train to Medsted the kids watched a magician. It’s always lovely watching kids astonished faces at the magic tricks. Medsted is a much smaller station than Ropley and only had 2 activities for the kids to do, which didn’t take them very long to complete. There was quite a wait until the next train so decided to have a look round the signal box. I think the station could have done with a few more activities to keep the kids occupied – at least as long as the time between trains. We didn’t go to Alton as this didn’t have any activities at all.
We decided to take the train back to Alresford to explore the activities there. The kids loved travelling on the trains all day. Even though there were lots of people attending the event, we always managed to find a group of seats so we could all sit together. At Alresford, the kids loved looking at the spiders and other insects. There is a lovely station cafe where we grabbed a cuppa before heading home with three exhausted, but very happy kids.
My top tips for making the most of the day:
- Bring plenty of snacks/picnic/drink
- Plan your day to make sure you get the most of all the activities on offer
- Know when the last train back to your station is
* Review Post. We were given tickets for this event in return of this review. However all opinions are honest