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Nigel's Holiday? Thursday 23rd March

Regular Reporter Nigel Thompson took time off from volunteering this week to host a visit from his sister Kath and brother-in-law. This special report shows scenes from the visitor perspective as Nigel showed off everything at Woody Bay to his family on rather a murky day.

1. After parking the car, it's time to check the signs to see what's happening….

2. Kath also reads the Welcome Notice.

The wording on this board is as follows:

"Re-opened in 2004, this is the first stage in rebuilding the much-loved railway that once ran between Lynton and Barnstaple. Our trains currently run from Woody Bay Station to Killington Lane Halt -a two-mile round trip through some glorious Exmoor countryside. Your tickets are valid all day: enjoy the ride as many times as you wish. Retain your ticket and you can travel half-price as many times as you like over the next 28 days.

We charge no entrance fee; car-parking and access to the station area including the toilets is also free. Dogs are welcome. Take as many photos as you like, relax in our gardens/picnic area or the peaceful woodland wildlife reserve or visit our tea-rooms for lunch, snacks and afternoon teas.

We are working hard at fundraising as well as many other behind-the-scenes tasks to rebuild more of the railway and your much-appreciated support is essential, contributing as it does towards our aim of having all of the line rebuilt before too long.

Enjoy your visit –please come again soon."

3. A tidy flower arrangement on the loading dock greets the visitor on arrival.

4. ISAAC runs round. “But can it go backwards?” the common uninitiated remark from those unfamiliar with railway operations.

5. Nigel’s family enjoy the warmth of ISAAC’s footplate for a moment.

6. Getting tickets from the booking office…

7. … to be checked on the train by the friendly Guard.

8. Nigel enjoying yet another ride on his beloved L&BR.

9. Kath reads the extension plans notice board at Killington Lane Halt.

10. Other visitors observe ISAAC about to run round.

11. ISAAC approaches the train at Killington Lane.

12. A very cold and damp day for Guard Bob Ayres returning to the train after operating the points.

13. Kath poses by ISAAC prior to the departure.

14. The three of us enjoying our ride uphill. It had been Kath’s first trip in the heritage carriages.

15. The still scenic contryside, despite the ‘wintery’ Exmoor weather!

16. Another classic pose – Kath with ISAAC.

17. Not busy enough to use the marquee today, so after a quick look at the history display boards…

18. … we found a table in the cosy Tea-Rooms by the real-coal fire as volunteer Irene Cross takes our order.

19. Wow! Excellently presented food. Nigel had homemade chunky vegetable soup and a roll, whilst Kath and her husband enjoyed toasted sandwiches served with crisps and salad.

20. Finally a look around the shop, settling up and purchasing ‘Judy’s Woody Bay Cookbook, the current Guide Book and some other souvenirs from regular shop volunteer Tony Cross, Irene's' husband.

My sister Kath has seen Woody Bay progress over the years and she remarked how well everything had developed with all the improved facilities and attractions for all. She looks forward to seeing and sampling more progress in the future as the railway extends.

A great visit as always and interesting for me to experience the railway as just ‘a customer’ and not getting one’s hands dirty for a change! Anyway back to volunteering this weekend.

Words and photos Nigel Thompson

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