Journey through the south of England cradling a Pressed Rat & Warthog. The RAT is back. The Real Ale Train resumes service on March 25th, 2023.
Travelling on the Watercress Line through the Hampshire countryside of the south of England, a selection of local beers will be served on board to British real ale and countryside connoisseurs.
Local Hampshire breweries and others from surrounding counties will be on the menu, with pints priced at £4 and half pints at £2. Those who book in advance will receive a free pint token with their train ticket. Only “bright” beers are served on board. From a keg.
Triple FFF Brewery in Four Marks near Alton is responsible for Pressed Rat & Warthog as well as CAMRA’s supreme champion, Alton’s Pride. Alfred’s Brewery makes Saxon Bronze and Sussex’s Bedlam make Bowie, Hunky Dory and Ground Control.
The RAT departs from Alton station at 7:00pm for the Georgian town of Alresford (seven miles from Winchester), where travellers will be able to line their stomachs at the West Country Buffet.
After two round trips of the Watercress Line, the train will make its final stop back at Alton at 10:30pm, in time for connecting services back to London and the south.
The Watercress Line is the marketing name of the 1865 Mid-Hants Railway, a heritage railway which once transported locally grown watercress up to the London markets. The section of line from Alresford to Alton was purchased from British Rail in 1975.
The price per compartment, which seats six, is £150 and includes six free pint vouchers. Adults can also purchase a single ticket, priced at £20.
Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appears worldwide and he has been published in over 800 titles.
Photograph courtesy of the Watercress Line/Triple FFF Brewery