Full steam ahead for Ayton Castle's latest attraction
Visitors to Ayton Castle were on track for a fun-filled ride as the estate’s new railway opened to passengers on Friday, November 26.
A few dozen hardy souls braved cold winds, freezing rain and occasional snow showers to board one of two carriages pulled by diesel locomotive ‘Lloyd’.
Officially opened in September, the 10¼” gauge line runs from the new Eyemouth Road Station – complete with traditional-style ticket booth – to Castle View Halt which is situated on a balloon loop overlooking the impressive baronial mansion .
Around 500 metres long, it winds through beautiful woodland and takes around eight minutes to complete.
The train ran throughout the day, with the first service chugging out of the station at 10.30am.
Delicious refreshments and signature bakes courtesy of the ever-popular Soil Sisters, were available in the charming tea room-style Castle Buffet.
The day was a taste of things to come with passengers set to be welcomed aboard again before Christmas, prior to a regular timetable being launched next year.
Brian Parsons, co-owner of Ayton Castle, said: “We had about 50 passengers on Friday despite the cold and the wind.
“Weather depending, there will be other open days in the remaining month of this year, then a regular timetable in 2022.”
Constructed by Alan Keef & Co, light railway engineers and locomotive builders of Ross-on-Wye, the line was officially opened on September 24 by Barrie Forrest – chairman of Rages (Rail Action Group East of Scotland) which successfully campaigned for the reopening of Reston station – when he unveiled a plaque at a ceremony attended by invited guests including local residents.
Mr Parsons said he hopes that the railway – which will also be available for private hire, wedding parties, corporate events, and filming – will attract visitors to the area .
The railway is set to be joined in the castle grounds by another new visitor attraction when a quirky menagerie of over 200 concrete animals sculptures, made in the 1930s and ‘40s, is installed sometime next year.
Recently acquired at auction by Brian and co-owner Richard Syred, the collection previously became a tourist attraction at a garden in Branxton, Northumberland.