2’ gauge on the former Alston branch
24 July 2008
Eight years ago, returning from a trip to
Edinburgh, I looked in on the South Tynedale
Railway, an interesting little 2' gauge line
constructed on the trackbed of the former NER
branch line. I made a mental note to revisit.
The standard gauge line, closed as recently as
1976, linked the market town ("highest in
England") with the Newcastle - Carlisle line at
Haltwhistle, some 11 miles or so distant in an area with poor
direct road links. Work on the narrow gauge railway began soon
after closure, with the result that, in 1983, the first short
stretch reopened (the 25th anniversary steam gala will be taking
place as I write...). Further extensions took the line to its
present northern terminus at Kirkhaugh, some 2¼ miles from
Alston, and plans are in hand for a further 2¼ mile extension to
The line is host to numerous locomotives, including three fine
steam locomotives in working order - "Helen Kathryn", the little
Henschel which was in use on the occasion of my earlier visit,
"Naklo", a rather interesting Polish 0-6-0 tender locomotive, and
"Thomas Edmondson" (inventor of the board...), another
Henschel 0-4-0T dating from 1918.
Mr Edmondson was being prepared for his next run down the line
when we arrived, and, tickets obtained, we joined the train for
a very pleasant unhurried run down the South Tyne valley.
There's plenty of time at Kirkhaugh to observe the run-round
(there's northing else to do there anyway*) before rejoining the
train for the run (slightly more energetic) back to Alston.
A most enjoyable little interlude - a great little railway, which is
well worth a visit, and will be even more so when the extension
is in place.
A Scottish Trip
(Previous visit, Aug. 00)
South Tynedale Railway
Geoff’s Rail Diaries