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Above: A party of ramblers from the club's Yorkshire group cross the valley of the River Belah, once spanned by a massive viaduct on the Stainmore route between Barnard Castle and Kirby Stephen. Two stone abutments are all that remains of this structure. (Look for the vertical edges on the skyline to the left and right of the picture.) When in use, the viaduct extended 1,040 ft across the valley floor, reaching a maximum height of 196 ft. Designed by Thomas Bouch, it was constructed from wrought iron lattice work girders supported by 16 cast iron piers. Bouch's career was later blighted by the collapse of the Tay Bridge, which he also designed, but Belah viaduct was sound until the end, which came with closure of the line in January 1962. Photographed on 19th August 2000. (Richard Lewis)

December 2000. Wivenhoe to Brightlingsea, Essex. Wivenhoe, on the line from Colchester to Walton-on-Naze, used to be the junction station for Brightlingsea. A railway path (of sorts) links the two communities, although scrap dealers dismantled a vital bridge 1 miles out of Wivenhoe shortly after the line closed. However, 'where there's a will, there's a way', and a trio of dedicated (or should that be mad?) members from the club's Eastern Area proved that even a missing bridge is no obstacle to the committed trackbed basher. For further details, click here. (Phil Wood)

December 2000. Halewood to Southport, Merseyside. Improvements to the Trans Pennine Trail mean that a nearly continuous railway path now extends from Halewood (south east of Liverpool) to Southport on the Lancashire coast. The total distance is about 25 miles, with the only non-railway section following the towpath of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. For further details, click here. (Ralph Rawlinson)

December 2000. Chester, Cheshire. A new railway path has been created from Hoole, in the east of Chester, to Hawarden Bridge station on the line from Bidston to Wrexham. The path is 10 miles long and re-uses much of the former freight line from Dee Marsh Junction to Mickle Trafford. At the western end, the route continues as a cycle trail towards Flint, although this section is not railway-based and follows local roads. The new railway path forms part of 'The Millennium Cycle Route in Cheshire', which was funded by a consortium of bodies including Sustrans Ltd, Chester City Council and Cheshire County Council. (John Fisher, Maurice and Hilary Blencowe)

December 2000. Leigh to Kenyon Junction, Greater Manchester. This 2 mile railway path has been obliterated largely by new housing and road building in the area. For further details, click here. (Ralph Rawlinson)

December 2000. Rolleston, Nottinghamshire. The popular Southwell Trail from Southwell to Farnsfield was extended a few years ago from Southwell to Rolleston station on the line from Newark Castle to Nottingham. It turns out that the 1 mile extension no longer has any railway interest since it has been converted into a tarmac access road for Southwell Racecourse, but at least it provides easy access from the station to the eastern edge of Southwell, where the more interesting trail to Farnsfield can be joined. (Chris Allan)

Above: Larpool Viaduct, viewed on a rainy day from the window of a passing train on the branch line to Whitby. The curious shape above the middle of the parapet is scaffolding from the recent restoration work. (Richard Lewis)
November 2000. Whitby, North Yorkshire. The massive Larpool Viaduct which spans the River Esk to the south of Whitby Town station has now been opened to the public and forms part of the 22 mile long railway path between Whitby and Scarborough. (In fact, this viaduct is the path's crowning glory.) Restoration was carried out under a joint scheme involving the cycling charity, Sustrans Ltd, and various local authorities. The opening of the viaduct reduces the time taken to get between Whitby and the railway path by 20 minutes, and the views from the top are stunning. (Frank Watson)
Above: I n 1999, a group of members from the club walked the abandoned Waverley Route between Carlisle and Edinburgh. It looks as if our photographer had an eye on the postcard market, but is Leaderfoot Viaduct on the official trail between Melrose and Galashiels? Information please! (Richard Lewis)

November 2000. Melrose and Galashiels, Scottish Borders. The old 'Waverley' line between these two towns is now a well used footpath and cycling route. We believe that it is 5 miles long, but confirmation would be appreciated. Also, does the trail have any notable engineering features? If you can tell us, please get in touch via our Contact page. (Chris John)

November 2000. Balloch to Glasgow Exhibition Centre (20 miles). This trail is now known as the 'Loch Lomond Cycleway'. It incorporates the following lengths of reclaimed railway (total 5 miles):

  • Partick West to Scotstoun West Junction (2 miles, ex Caledonian Railway main line)
  • Scotstoun West Junction to Yoker (1 mile, ex CR Rothesay Dock Branch)
  • Yoker to Clyde Street, Clydebank ( mile, ex CR main line)
  • Bowling Basin to Dunglass ( mile, ex CR main line)
  • Dunglass to Dumbarton East (1 miles, ex North British Railway main line)

Away from the railway, the trail mostly follows the Forth & Clyde Canal, or runs alongside roads. Other parts of the disused Caledonian Railway can be walked, but do not form part of the official route. (Ralph Rawlinson)

November 2000. Abingdon, Oxfordshire. One mile of the former branch line from Abingdon to Radley is being converted by Sustrans Ltd into a new railway path. The trail will start at the east end of the Abingdon Science Park in Barton Lane (grid reference SU 508973) and extend to SU 522973, where it will continue northwards via a public footpath to reach Radley village. The section of old railway being converted is owned by Vale of White Horse District Council, but - amazingly - the council's Principal Engineer appeared to know nothing about the conversion works. Beyond SU 522973, the trackbed is owned by National Power. Sustrans hopes that this section too may become available at a future date. (Michael Steptoe)

Above: How big do you like your viaducts? When photographed in December 1992, this massive example at Cefn Coed, north of Merthyr Tydfil, was just another mouldering monument to the age of steam. Now it's part of the Taff Trail, a 55 mile walking and cycling route from Brecon to Cardiff. Consisting almost entirely of old railways, tramways and canals (both used and disused), the Taff Trail has become a popular tourist attraction in its own right. At the southern end, cycling commuters use it to get to and from work in Cardiff. It certainly beats the city traffic! (David James)

November 2000. Bude, Cornwall. Thanks to a generous injection of Millennium grant money, the seaward end of the Bude Canal has been restored (including the sea lock), along with the course of the former narrow gauge sand railway which was used to convey sand from the beach for use as a soil conditioner in local fields. (The course of this railway is now an official heritage trail.) Much of the former branch line to Bude, once part of the London & South Western Railway, is also being converted into a walk and cycle trail, and this will eventually include the two magnificent viaducts either side of Holsworthy. Update, February 2001: Derriton Viaduct on the west side of Holsworthy has now been restored, and access to it is provided by the 'Cornish Corkscrew', an elaborate spiralling ramp. (Chris Cook)

October 2000. Fallowfield, Manchester. Local authorities in Manchester are now giving serious consideration to converting the 5 mile Fallowfield Loop Line into a walking and cycling route that will link up with the Trans Pennine Trail. It will give access to up to 8 local schools, as well as the Commonwealth Games in 2002. 'If you live in the Manchester area, please contact your local councillor to lobby for the development of the Fallowfield Loop as a vital urban cycle route. Surgeries will be advertised in your local library, or you can contact them via Membership Services at the Town Hall on 0161 234 3235.' (Sustrans Ltd)

September 2000. Bedford to Sandy, Bedfordshire. A 4 mile length of the former Bedford-Sandy line between Bedford and Great Barford has been converted into a cycle trail. There are plans to extend the route into Sandy, presumably also along the former railway line, but the extension is being delayed until the local council can obtain more money. (Phil Wood).

August 2000. Barcombe Mills, East Sussex. A permissive route has been opened on part of the former Lewes to Uckfield line. It starts at Barcombe Mills station, which has been lovingly restored and is open to the public as a tea room, and extends for a mile northwards to Anchor Lane, where those who are only out for a pint should turn right to reach the Anchor Inn on the River Ouse. There are plenty of footpaths in the area, which provide access from the Anchor Inn to Isfield, where there is another finely preserved station, this one the home of the Lavender Line steam railway. (John Simmons)

May 2000. Rye, East Sussex. A 2 mile route has been opened between Rye and Camber, which provides a quick and traffic-free link for walkers and cyclists, who no longer have to use the busy A259. We suspect that the route uses the trackbed of the former Rye & Camber Tramway. If you have any information, please get in touch via our Contact page. (Sustrans Ltd)