The Grand Tour 2018 – part 8

Categories: News and Rail Trips and Visits.

This is the last Tour report for now. I have attempted to slow down, however the last two weeks have flown by with lots of things happening.

I have been lucky enough to be invited to stay with Roy & Lorna (fellow steam rail enthusiasts) from Axminster near Lyme Regis. We did some sightseeing around Lyme Regis one day and Roy and I visited Haynes Motor museum with over 400 vehicles. We found a Stanley Steamer that belonged to Dame Nellie Melba, I also saw my first car a grey 2 door Austin A30. We didn’t have time to see it all and will have to go back.

Grand Tour, part 8. Photo: Ross Tonkin
Grand Tour, part 8. Photo: Ross Tonkin

I had to go to Weston-Super-Mare to pick up some locomotives that had been fitted with sound decoders. David & Primrose had been on the Steam train Tour on the Isle of Man and live in Wells; they suggested I come and stay with them for a couple of days. It was a very different, but wonderful experience. We walked in to Wells along a disused railway track and explored where the main line, goods shed and maintenance depot had been. We visited Wells Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace where we had lunch overlooking the green where people were playing croquet – very English!

I was fascinated by a chair in Primrose & David’s kitchen, it was fitted with ‘’wellington boots’’ to raise it up, what a good idea. 

Travelling from Axminster to Wells on Sunday I had some time to spare so I visited a small model railway exhibition that I had looked up on the internet. While walking around the exhibition hall I stopped to look at one layout and realized I knew the operator, he had been on the Steam Train Tour in Norfolk. Unbelievably, whilst talking to him two other people I knew turned up, also from a previous STT.

Leaving the exhibition I realized I was close to the East Somerset heritage railway so I went for a ride.

After picking up the locomotives from Weston-Super-Mare I headed north towards Loughborough; I passed a sign pointing to ‘Armourgeddon’ that had a huge tank parked at the entrance to a long lane. I decided to investigate and found an exhibition specializing in armoured vehicles of all sorts, I enjoyed a couple of hours wandering around.

I had booked 4 nights at a hotel only metres from the Great Central Railway, the only twin track heritage railway in the UK. I could look out my first floor bedroom window and watch steam locos and others going past. I spent three days attending the Great Central Railway Model Railway Event. It is a great event with huge marquees (interestingly supplied and erected by ‘Aussie Marquees’) at three stations along the line. You travel between stations on carriages hauled by one of several steam locomotives or diesels as well as a class 101 diesel rail car.

There was so much to see (and buy), my favourite layout was a Traction Maintenance Depot for diesel locomotives, and all locos had sound which I thought was great. In the depot building they even had an overhead crane.

I have now headed south and will soon be meeting Les and his wife Val, I have known Les for 48 years.

I thought I would finish of by listing some ‘’nerdy’’ statistics that some of you may find interesting or amusing:

  • Length of holiday 64 days so far.
  • Miles travelled 3401
  • Number of photos taken 10294
  • Number of different places stayed at 19
  • Cost of accommodation £2215.78
  • Average accommodation cost per night £47.14
  • Cost of food £1086.45
  • Cost of diesel fuel for car £353.89
  • Average fuel cost £1.28.9 / litre
  • Cost of parking £102.90
  • Cost of admission to castles, exhibitions, places of interest etc. £452.20
  • Cost of model railway related purchases £364.00
  • Miscellaneous expenditure £690.42

I hope you have enjoyed coming on the Grand Tour with me. I will be back in Melbourne late on Friday 22nd June.

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