We live quite close to a network of paths called the Waggonways. Originally the routes were used to transport coal from the mines down to the River Tyne by horse-drawn carts along wooden rails, they were later used by Stephenson with the early steam locomotives.
Now they are cycle and pedestrian routes, and pretty well used they are too. The Stephenson Rail Museum is very near to our house, too, and on weekends and special occasions they run a steam engine along a mile or so of the railway track Stephenson used to trial the locomotives that influenced the type of tracks used throughout the world.
During our lunch today I heard “toot toot” and realised that steam trains were on the go nearby. So I quickly abandoned all thought of doing the dishes straight after our meal (ha!) and got the boys ready for a wander to see if we could spot any trains.
The paths are tree-lined along the section we were on today, and the train track runs parallel. There are wild flowers, brambles and some plants that look a lot like rhubarb (could it be rhubarb?!) We spotted quite a few different butterflies, and a grasshopper, too!And then we heard “toot toot” again and looked up to see this.
We actually had to wait a while, because the train had slowed right down, but then it chuff-chuffed past. Unfortunately the trees were too high for James to see properly, so we dashed along to where the bushes that line the track are very low, and stood to wait while the train turned around further along the track.
“Quickly, chase her!” (Percy, in our house, is a girl. James is pretty insistent on this point; he has a model Thomas and a model Percy, and as long as he’s had them and been able to talk, he’s said that she’s a female train. Oh well.) So I followed the line until I got to the station, where sadly it was a ticket-only event. Normally on a weekend you can go in the museum car park and grounds without having to pay, so you can see the trains but not ride on them, but alas, not today.
Along the way we saw lots more butterflies, and a dragonfly. Then we turned around and headed home, picking blackberries as we walked.
I’m so glad we headed out today; it was a really nice way to spent a few hours in the sunshine, and pretty exciting to see Percy!