The Two Tunnels Greenway in Bath opened to walkers and cyclists on Saturday 6th April 2013, thus providing a link from west of Bath city centre to Midford ... where the new route connects with the existing railway-based trail on to Radstock and Midsomer Norton. That makes a good 15 miles of almost continuous trackbed to walk or cycle, with the promise of another two miles to come as the Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust extends gradually from its base at Midsomer Norton to the village of Chilcompton.

Above: Devonshire Tunnel, finally revealed after decades of being buried beneath infill which the project contractors, Hydrock, had to remove before they could restore the portal. The day of the opening saw a welcome change to spring-like weather following weeks of steel-grey skies and a biting easterly wind; this meteorological improvement no doubt helped to swell the numbers somewhat! The time is about 9:50 a.m., just before the tunnel doors were opened for the VIP party to go through. 6th April 2013. (Jeff Vinter)

Above: They may not look like it in their casual cycling gear, but these are some of the VIPs waiting to go through the two tunnels at 10:00 a.m. They are facing north, i.e. towards Bath and away from Devonshire Tunnel, to hear the first of several pre-opening speeches. The gentleman in the left foreground is RR member Richard Nuell, who gamely ran the route, keeping up with all the cyclists throughout. 6th April 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
Above: the next tunnel south of Devonshire is Combe Down, whose northern portal is seen here just moments before the VIP party cycled through. As can be seen in this picture, the spring sun – absent for so long – decided to position itself in rather an awkward location for such photographs! 6th April 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
Left: The view from atop the portal of Combe Down Tunnel, as seen in the photograph above, looking north into Lyncombe Vale and the city of Bath beyond. Lyncombe Vale was a location much favoured by the Somerset & Dorset Railway's famous photographer, Ivo Peters. The time is just after 12:10 p.m., and a few volunteers and locals are waiting on the trackbed to watch the first of the 10,000 trail users pass through. 6th April 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
Above: The interior of Combe Down Tunnel looking south. At over a mile in length, this is currently the longest tunnel on the National Cycle Network. There is a curve at each end, but the majority of it is dead straight, as seen here, with a summit in the middle. The lighting has been strategically placed so as to leave the roof space unlit for bats. A lot of the tunnel, especially towards the south end, is unlined. 6th April 2013. (Jeff Vinter)

Right: The decadence of it all! It is now about 11:00 a.m. and the VIP party has reached the newly restored Tucking Mill Viaduct, where a champagne breakfast awaits them. It must be conceded that they deserved this in return for their £175 tickets, which were used to create a maintenance fund for the trail. 6th April 2013. (Jeff Vinter)

Above: It's now 1:30 p.m. and this was the view in the public open space space adjoining the northern portal of Devonshire Tunnel. As can be seen, cyclists were waiting two or three abreast for access to the trail. There were about five times this number on the railway path itself, in the cutting leading up to the tunnel's north portal. Anyone doubting the huge demand for this type of facility need look only at this type of evidence. 6th April 2013. (Jeff Vinter)

Above: There was a huge party in the public open space next to Devonshire Tunnel, with everything on offer from real ale to stunt cyclists. It was rather fitting that one of the old running-iin boards from Bournemouth West – once the southern terminus of the S&D – should have made an appearance for the day. 6th April 2013. (Jeff Vinter)

Postscript: Since publishing this picture, we have received some further information about it from member Robin Summerhill, who was in this tent, by the step ladder, before he had heard of Railway Ramblers. Robin informs us that the tent was being used by the Bath Green Park Retired Firemen’s group. The running-in board and most of the other railway artefacts on display that day were from the collection of Tim Hughes, MBE (just left of centre in the peaked cap), who is a former Bath Green Park fireman himself; he received an MBE after 30 years on his local Parish Council, much of it as Chairman, and for the work he carried out for the local community.