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Brushford to Nightcott, Somerset. Tucked away near the summit of the Taunton to Barnstaple branch line lies a little known railway path of 2 miles which links Brushford with the hamlet of Nightcott, two miles to the west. Once part of the broad gauge Devon & Somerset Railway, this section of the old trackbed is now part of the Exe Valley Way. On 13th August 2011, members of the club's South Western Area enjoyed a walk along this route, extended at either end by some specially negotiated extras, namely a couple of walks over privately owned sections of trackbed, plus visits to the former stations. The following photographs provide a record of the day.

Above: Dulverton station – actually in Brushford – viewed from the former road-over-rail bridge which carries the B3222 over what would now be called the 'station throat'. (No doubt the Victorians had a more elegant term for it.) As can be seen, the Devon & Somerset Railway was no slouch in the beautiful scenery stakes! All of this is private property, so please do not trespass. The railway path starts at the west end of Brushford village, near St. Nicholas's church. 23rd July 2011. (Jeff Vinter)

 
Above: A second view of Dulverton station from the B3222. Passengers on local bus services (398 Minehead-Tiverton and 25B Taunton-Dulverton) catch a fleeting glimpse of this fine building as they pass by – but blink and you'll miss it. In practice, this is not a very good place to stand in the public highway with a camera. 23rd July 2011. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: The trackbed of the former Devon & Somerset Railway at Brushford, looking west. Since the line closed in October 1966, the lineside vegetation has grown more or less unchecked, restricting the lineside views. However, a few farm gates along the route provide opportunities to see what lies beyond, and it is well worth pausing at these to 'stand and stare' for a while. 13th August 2011. (Ivor Sutton)
 
Above: The interior of East Anstey Tunnel, looking west. This is a generously proportioned structure, having been built to Brunel's broad gauge. Unfortunately, being in a deep cutting, it has suffered from an accumulation of water and is now a rather marshy place. The tunnel is only 22 yards long and is believed to be owned by British Rail Board (Residuary) Ltd. The next tunnel to the east – Nightcott or Nightcote – is another short one at just 44 yards, but elsewhere on the branch there were 'sensible' tunnels and a number of sizeable viaducts. 13th August 2011. (Ivor Sutton)
 
Above: 'This will be why we didn't walk through the tunnel, then'. If you look again at the picture above this one, i.e. the tunnel interior, you will see that the portal at the west end opens on to a near solid 'green wall'. This is what all that vegetation looks like a little further west. This view was taken from the road-over-rail bridge immediately east of East Anstey station, and is looking west towards Barnstaple. The gable end of the station goods shed can just be made out in the distance, slightly to the left of centre. 13th August 2011. (Ivor Sutton)
 
Above: The down, i.e. Barnstaple bound, platform of East Anstey station. This was the first platform at East Anstey, opened on 1st November 1873; the second platform, on the up side, was built in 1876 by the GWR, which correctly recognised that more passing places were needed on the line if its services were to achieve better time-keeping. We are very grateful to the station owners both here and at Dulverton for providing us with a unique opportunity to visit these historic buildings. 13th August 2011. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: On the way back from East Anstey to Brushford, the party travelled via a bridleway over Beer Moors, which provided an opportunity to enjoy the first class scenery which the lineside vegetation on the old trackbed had largely concealed from view. 13th August 2011. (Dave Hurley)
 
Above: The final stop of the day was at a member's home in Brushford, where the 'unique garden feature' needed no explanation. The cool conditions on the day actually enhanced the colours of the bridge's stonework, where every block was hand cut. Who would even dream of constructing a bridge in such a manner today? This is why old railway architecture deserves to be kept – the vast majority of it actually enhances the landscape or the built environment. Can the same be said, for example, of the 1959 concrete bridges on the M1? 13th August 2011. (Ivor Sutton)