FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Bulleid bonanza at Corfe Castle

Posted in Corfe Castle, England by folkestonejack on April 1, 2017

It has been a while since I last visited Corfe Castle but the Swanage Railway’s ‘Strictly Bulleid’ gala managed to lure me back with the largest gathering of Bulleid light pacifics in the preservation era. It was clear from the outset that the event had proven irresistible to a good many more as the hourly bus service from morebus really struggled with the numbers (indeed, a few poor souls queued for two and a half hours just to get on a bus with space). However, it was well worth the hassle…

West country class 34052 Lord Dowding passes Corfe Castle en route to Swanage in mid-afternoon

The event, marking the 50th anniversary of the end of steam in the Southern Region, saw five locos in action 34046 Braunton (as 34052 Lord Dowding), 34070 Manston, 34092 City of Wells, 34081 92 Squadron and 34053 Sir Keith Park. As if that wasn’t enough of a temptation it was possible to see 34072 257 Squadron undergoing restoration at Herston Works and the frames of 34010 Sidmouth is on a wagon at Corfe Castle station. Quite a gathering!

I usually stay quite close to the railway on my visits but on this occasion opted for some more distant viewpoints, including a spot in the medieval skyscraper that is Corfe Castle and going higher still, atop West Hill looking down on the castle.

Up to this point I had assumed that the view of the railway with Corfe Castle in the foreground involved quite a bit of walking, so was rather surprised to discover that it was just a short, if rather steep, walk up the hillside. The steps that start the climb are easily accessed by following the footpath from the visitor centre on the A351 or by taking Ollie Vyes Lane from the Square and the footpath that continues on the other side of Tyneham Road.

My pictures certainly can’t compare to the wonderful shots I have seen from here but I was still thrilled to have taken in the breathtaking view from the top – with or without a camera it is quite a sight.

Battle of Britain class light pacific 34081 92 Squadron passes Corfe Castle in mid afternoon en route to Norden

The gala weekend also saw the operation of trains over the four miles of newly restored line from Norden to the River Frome – a stretch of line only opened to passengers in 2016. In the trade off between travelling and photography I didn’t get a chance to ride this bit of the line today so that’s a good excuse to make a return in the near future, perhaps even this summer when diesel hauled services into Wareham begin.

Overall, I had a great day and want to thank everyone involved in making it such a special event. I never fail to be struck with awe at the sight of a Southern light pacific on top form so was never going to be disappointed with an event featuring so many, but it really was something to see so many gathered in one place at the same time and with such great scenery all around. If it’s a feat that is never repeated then I’m glad to have seen this for at least one day!