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The Somerset & Dorset Railway between Shillingtone and Stourpaine & Durweston. In October 2010, the long-demolished Hodmoor bridge over the River Stour north west of Stourpaine was finally replaced – at a cost in excess of £300,000 – thus enabling the North Dorset Trailway to link Sturminster Newton with Stourpaine. This is the longest section of the Trailway to date, and not only do the organisers now have Blandford Forum in their sights – they also want to go northwards to Bath. The Trailway's information display at Stourpaine recreation ground made this quite clear with a series of sectional maps showing the course of the old railway from Poole to Bath, accompanied by the slogan: 'Make this Trailway go further'. Yes please!

Above: Walkers, cyclists and horse riders gather for the start of the first ever railway walk from Shillingstone to Stourpaine on Sunday 7th November 2010. It is a shame that one of the horses was standing side on in the foreground, for the animal hid many of the walkers and cyclists who were queueing on the trackbed back towards Shillingstone station. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)

 
Left: Later in the day when the crowds had thinned out, it was possible to photograph some of the waymarking signs which Dorset CC and its partners have installed on the route. This one directs thirsty trail users to the Old Ox Inn, while the sign for Shillingstone Station tempts others with an advert for its tea room and log fire. Trailways like this can make a big difference to the amount of trade enjoyed by rural businesses. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)
 

Right: South of Shillingstone, the railway ran through a cutting and an underbridge which conveyed a minor lane heading west from Gains Cross on the nearby A357. Both the cutting and bridge were filled in long ago, but, as can be seen here, the infill has been graded to make a gentle ramp. This is the view from part way down the slope looking south east towards Stourpaine.Note that much of the Trailway is not in a tunnel of trees and affords excellent views – long may it remain so. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)

 
Above: A typical selection of Trailway users walking from Gains Cross towards the new river bridge and Stourpaine. Types of user not represented here include cyclists of all varieties and abilities, and the elderly and disabled riding on mobility scooters. The Trailway is a boon for the latter, for it enables them to access attractive countryside and local villages on a level, traffic-free path. On a personal note, my late mother was disabled by polio – if only she had lived long enough to see, and use, facilities like this. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: This is the Trailway traffic about 1½ hours after the official opening and, as can be seen, the level of use is still impressive. The standard of work on the Trailway is excellent, with short sections of concrete installed where tractors cross the line, or tarmac laid along the line where farmers use it to access different parts of their farms. The general surface is rolled limestone dust laid on a bed of compressed road chippings which, presumably, are themselves laid on the old railway ballast. Plenty of ballast was left on the S&D, since it was closed before BR had honed its recycling skills. Years later when BR closed the direct line from Selby to York, it lifted all the ballast and sold it to the contractors building the then new York bypass. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: A view from the south side of the trackbed looking from Stourpaine towards Gains Cross, showing the restored flood arches of the viaduct and, in the distance, the new metal span. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: The south side of the new span over the River Stour. This is the view looking north west towards Gains Cross from the Stourpaine side of the river. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: The north side of the new span over the River Stour – a companion view to the one above, taken just a few yards up river. This picture shows very clearly the new abutment that Dorset CC and its partners had to construct, since the local farmer demolished the original, presumably to prevent animals (or anything else) falling off of it. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Left: Who says that summer photographers get all the best pictures? From the river bridge into Stourpaine, the old railway passes through a delightful avenue of oak trees, seen to good effect in this picture looking north west towards Gains Cross. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)