Walkers brave weather to raise money to help Bluebell Railway reopen

29 June 2020


A series of walkers raised nearly £6,000 by taking part in the Bluebell Railway’s first ever Virtual Track Trek.

The railway normally holds a sponsored walk each year with supporters walking alongside the train tracks but cancelled this year’s planned event because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead it asked people to walk a distance of 4.5 miles which is the length of the track between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes stations on the heritage line.

People took part on Saturday (27 June) in different locations including on disused railway lines, between existing main line railway stations, in their gardens, carparks or seafronts.

The nearest to the actual Track Trek was achieved by Vernon Blackburn, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Trust, Steve Bigg, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society and Paul Lelew the Commercial and Marketing Director of the Bluebell Railway PLC. They achieved 4.8 miles walking from Horsted Keynes Railway Station over Leamland Bridge then walking parallel to the track for about half a mile to the Horsted House foot crossing and returning to Horsted Keynes Station.

The Virtual Track Trek was the brainchild of Bluebell member Deborah Carver who walked between various railway stations including Crawley and Three Bridges. So far nearly £6,000 has been raised towards the Bluebell Railway Emergency Appeal which is being used to help with the costs of reopening the railway which has been closed since March.

The Virtual Track Trek co-ordinator Roger Kelly and his fiancée Maureen, with a combined age of 150, walked their 4.5 miles in rain and force 6 winds and raised more than £1,400.

The Mayor of East Grinstead, Danny Favor joined in with his wife Maribel walking around the council offices in East Grinstead.

The Bluebell Railway says it is keeping the Virtual Track Trek going for anyone who wishes to donate or wants to take part in their own sponsored walk of 4.5 miles. Details are here.

The railway is planning on reopening on Friday 7 August to mark 60 years of operating as a heritage line.

You can watch a video of the day below.

Credit: Flying Movies Limited