Mid Hants Railway


How to get to The Watercress Line

A Preserved steam railway (aka Mid-Hants Railway) links the main line at Alton with Medstead, Four Marks, Ropley and the pretty Georgian town of Alresford.


Come and visit us anytime.  You never know what you might see.
Look at our stations, see our loco yard


By Car:

Alresford & Alton stations (Hampshire, England) are signposted off the A31 Guildford to Winchester road; follow the brown tourist signs. Each has a car park at the station. The Watercress Line can normally be reached in about 1 hour from Bournemouth, West London, Brighton or Oxford.

N.B. Parking at our other stations Medstead & Four Marks and Ropley is very limited except at publicised special events (for which extra parking space is arranged).

Alresford, Hampshire was later renamed New Alresford, and this is the name you should input if you are using the AutoRoute Express computer program to find directions.

By Train:

Take a South West Trains service from London's Waterloo station via Woking direct to Alton.


Please note that the only 'Alresford' on the UK national rail network is in Essex, a long way from Alresford, Hampshire on the Watercress Line.

Watercress Line services depart from Alton Platform 3 (across Alton Station footbridge) and normally connect with SW Trains services (but please check this on our timetables for your day of travel)

Check timetables from other stations and routes, or from Gatwick Airport or Heathrow Airport, from the Railtrack timetable  which works it all out for you for the time you want to travel.

Visitors aged under 25 from other countries can get a Britrail Pass which can cut the cost of UK mainline rail travel considerably.  Railcard information

By Bus:

Regular bus services,  Routes 64 and X64  run:
Guildford - Puttenham - Runfold - Farnham - Bentley - Froyle - Alton - Ropley - Alresford - Winchester - Southampton.

Details can be obtained from Hampshire Bus, telephone 01962- 852352, Stagecoach Hants & Surrey  01256-464501, or dial 100 (from UK only) and ask for "Freephone County Bus" or visit the UK Public Transport Information website.



Days out for senior citizens, groups, cream teas, meals on steam trains, delightful countryside, parties, trips for over-60s


Discounted Travel and Special Provision for Groups of 15 or More Passengers

Our restored steam railway goes through ten miles of delightful Hampshire Countryside. This includes some of the steepest gradients of any steam railway in the south of England requiring us to use large engines to haul our authentic coaches 'over the Alps' as railway men used to call this journey. The railway runs between Alton and Alresford, off the A31 Guildford to Winchester road.


What is on offer

All return tickets for the complete round trip entitle you to unlimited travel on the Watercress Line on the day of issue, and single journeys may be broken at either or both of the two intermediate stations.

Ropley is an interesting place at which to break your journey. There you will find the Railway's engineering works and locomotive yard, together with a picnic site containing a small children's play area. A short walk away is a wildlife meadow which we manage under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.  The footpath leading to this quiet wildlife meadow runs alongside the north side of the Railway, towards Alresford; train movements will be seen clearly from the path and action photographs may quite readily be taken.

On all operating days, you are welcome to visit the locomotive yard between 10.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m., while access to the engine sheds is by prior arrangement only, when it is essential that your party has a Watercress Line guide.


General Information

Up to six passengers in fixed wheelchairs can be carried in the brake compartment of any of our trains. Such customers are advised to start and finish their journeys at Alresford as platform access at Alton is via a footbridge. Passengers with folding wheelchairs and who are sufficiently mobile, are welcome to travel in any part of the train, their wheelchairs being carried in the brake van. Ramps are provided to ease entry to trains and our volunteer station staff will do all they can to assist less-agile passengers. A wheelchair is available at each station, if required. There are toilets for the disabled at Ropley Station and adjacent to the station car park at Alresford. Our volunteer staff make your visit easy and happy, with no fuss.

Heritage railways wheelchair access webpage gives similar details for many other UK preserved railways.  Disabled Persons Rail Pass (main line)  


Discounted fares for groups of 15 or more passengers

Please ask about special rates for groups of 50 and more.  Higher fares apply on some Special Events days

(See Website For prices)

Some example menus* :

(We can meet your party's needs. Please ask)

Cream Tea of Scone, Cream and Jam, Cake, Tea or Coffee £3.50
Picnic lunch £4.00
Slice of Cake and Tea or Coffee £2.50
Ploughman's Lunch (ham or cheese) and Tea or Coffee £4.00
Ploughman's Lunch (ham or cheese) and Tea or Coffee with dessert £5.50

Two course hot Lunch £5.95
   1. Beef Bourguignon or Chicken Chasseur ; or
   2. Shepherd's Pie; or
   3. Vegetarian Dish of the Day;
       followed by Fruit Crumble, Cheesecake or Sherry Trifle plus Tea or Coffee
A licensed bar service is available.
(Please Check main website for up todate details)   

 The Watercress Line,
The Railway Station,
SO24 9JG  

Tel No:  01962 733810 
Fax No:  01962 735448



Footplate Experience (Introductory & Advanced) Courses.

BIG steam trains, BIG hills, BIG excitement

Footplate Experience Introductory Course

and ...

Footplate Experience Advanced Course

Only Mid-hants Railway lets YOU drive a steam train flat-out up long 1-in-60 gradients Perfect corporate entertaining, rewards, hospitality or team-building event

Footplate Experience Advanced Course

Although for this Advanced Course prior footplate experience is not essential, absolute beginners may find they derive more benefit and enjoyment by first taking our Introductory Course


This is the ultimate driving and firing experience with the engine working at full regulator* over 1 in 60 / 1 in 80 gradients on the Mid-hants Railway.  (The footplate men of old called this route 'Over The Alps' with good cause)

As part of your day you will be handling the controls of a powerful steam locomotive, and your engine will be hauling a set of coaches, just as with our normal passenger services


You will be paired with another participant and you will take turns to fire and drive the locomotive, under the instruction of our crew. We hope you will want to stay with us all day: when you are not driving or firing you can ride in the coaches, where you may want to discuss the route, signals and other points with the guard. You might assist with uncoupling, coupling, taking water, and operating the ground frame during shunting. Each round trip takes about one and half hours, and you can book for just one round trip which costs £250 (including VAT) or up to a full day which is four round trips.

Participants must be between 18 and 75 years of age, fit, and in reasonable health, i.e. able to climb to from the footplate by a vertical flight of steel steps from/to ground level. We also ask that you wear the correct clothing - a stout pair of boots or shoes is essential (trainers are not acceptable).  Overalls are also required; we can provide these for you (f.o.c.) if you prefer.

 It could be on one of the following locomotives:

Ivatt 2-6-2 tank engine  #41312
Ex-S.R. Class  S15, 4-6-0  #30506
U-class #31625
Ex-SR Rebuilt West Country Class 4-6-2   #34016 'Bodmin'
A visiting locomotive

You will find pictures and up-to-date news of all these engines on the Loco Shed webpages. We'll do our best to arrange your choice of engine.

You will understand that because these steam locomotives are at least 45 years old they need a lot time for maintenance, so we cannot guarantee a specific locomotive on the day.

For details of visiting engines which may become available, watch for Latest News on our website.


Footplate Experience days operate on selected mid-week days in Spring and Autumn, and at other times when schedules permit.

We can also arrange courses as a corporate hospitality event. Please contact  Rod Wicks ( to discuss your needs.

If you wish to give a Footplate Experience as a present, we will be happy to send a voucher.

Scale of Charges for Advanced Course  

One round trip (20 miles on the footplate)
£250 including V.A.T.

Two round trips (40 miles on the footplate)
£400 including V.A.T.

Four round trips (80 miles on the footplate, all day)
(see also Introductory Course below)

Footplate Experience Introductory Course


We also run a Footplate Experience Introductory Course for those who would prefer somewhat less driving and firing.  Learning to drive a powerful steam locomotive is an exhilarating experience, and the Mid-hants Railway offers to the inexperienced person the opportunity to do this over one of the most demanding lines in railway preservation.  

This course is a very popular gift and we can provide a gift voucher, valid for six months from the date of issue, at no extra charge.

The charge is  £150  including VAT

The Footplate Experience Introductory Course includes safety instruction and a short tour of the workshops with our instructor to see locomotives under repair and restoration. Then it's over to the steam locomotive where the participant will drive and crew the locomotive, spending the rest of the course on the footplate operating the locomotive under instruction.

Note please that no guests can be conveyed, and there are only minimal waiting facilities at Ropley. (Alresford station is only a few miles away, though, and there's a delightful Georgian town to explore)

Participants must be between 18 and 75 years of age, fit, and in reasonable health, i.e. able to climb to from the footplate by a vertical flight of steel steps from/to ground level. The participant will also need to be correctly dressed with stout boots or shoes, and overalls for protection, as the footplate can be very hot and dirty. We can loan a pair of overalls (free of charge) if you let us know in advance, but not shoes. N.B. Trainers are not acceptable.  Our instructors cannot permit anyone to take part in this course without the correct safety wear.

These courses offer a choice of morning or afternoon instruction:

Arrive at Ropley * station at 0930hr for a morning course, or 1330hr for an afternoon course

* From the A31 at Ropley, near the Toyota garage, go up Station Hill


We can also arrange courses as a corporate hospitality event. Please contact  Rod Wicks ( to discuss your needs.

 The Watercress Line,
The Railway Station,
SO24 9JG

Tel No:  01962 733810
Fax No:  01962 735448




The Watercress Belle

Mid Hants Railway, Hampshire's premier steam railway, wanders for some ten miles through the heart of what was famous watercress country. The Railway acquired the nickname 'Watercress Line' when transport of that crop by train to all parts of the Country was a routine feature of daily life in the area.

The Watercress Belle is a first class train of former boat train stock on which a leisurely five course dinner is served during two round trips (approximately forty miles) of the line. Its maximum capacity is 72 diners.

Watercress is said to be an aphrodisiac; true or not we make sure to feature it in each of our dinners. A fully staffed train requires some twenty three volunteers prepared, simply for the love of their Railway, to devote their Saturday evening to making your visit a real pleasure. Do join us this year; it will be our pleasure to serve you.

The Watercress Belle is available for private hire, maximum 72 seats.       Let us know your requirements.

Tel No:  01962 733810 
Fax No:  01962 735448





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