The track plan that I have devised consists of a single track which forms an oval continuous run. At the back of the layout, a length of track will be linked to the continuous run to provide rolling stock storage. This track formation is known as a passing loop, and on the layout it will be hidden from view. This will provide a 'behind the scenes' area (called a fiddle yard) where trains can be manipulated by the operator.
At the front of the layout, a second passing loop (this time visible) will be laid, to enable trains travelling in opposite directions to pass one another on the single track. In addition, one of the tracks will have a station platform. Within the vicinity of the station, a further length of track will be laid which will form sidings where goods trains will operate. (A siding is a spur of track, situated away from the main running lines, which are used for the loading, unloading, shunting or storage of wagons).
In order to simplify the above explanation, see the accompanying diagram which shows the proposed track plan.
At this stage it is appropriate to mention some ideas about scenery. One side of the layout will incorporate a tunnel which will hide one of the sharp curves of the continuous run, whilst the sharp curve on the other side will be disguised by a wooded area. The main focus of the layout will be a station; I am also hoping to incorporate a cotton mill - this provides a plausible reason for the railways being, as trains will bring imported raw cotton to the mill and then take the finished product away again. Historically, mills would be sited near a water source in order to provide the power for them, and this would be bought to the mill in man-made water troughs called 'soughs' (a Derbyshire term). The background scenery is intended to be largely rural, with perhaps the beginning of a village fading into the distance. The combination of these elements has provided the name for the layout - "Sough Lea" (lea being a term for a meadow, or piece of ground). The detail of the scenery will be described in later articles dealing with this topic.