Tag Archives: disused railway

Wandering home from work

28 Apr

It was the first time this year that I walked home from work, although it wasn’t all the way from work because that would take me too long now (maybe later in the year when I have found a decent route and we have lighter evenings).

To make up for the fact that I was starting later and because I would be starting from the wrong side of town I altered my route slightly, although I may have over compensated because it didn’t seem quite so far.

It did seem to take me a bit longer than usual, despite a slightly shorter route, but I wasn’t really pushing myself this evening. It was more about unwinding, perhaps not physically but mentally. It was great not to have to think about anything in particular or make conversation.

The route, along a disused railway line (again) makes it very easy to just forget about maps and which path to take. All you have to do is make sure you start facing in the right direction and remember to stop when you get to where you want to go.

It probably took almost an hour before my brain was purged of thoughts of work and other day-to-day worries and began to fill up with all sorts of other bizarre thoughts, ideas and memories. I would be quite happy in my own little world and then something would catch my eye or a sound would make me stop and listen and bring me back down to earth.

It is not a particularly exciting route, I have walked it many times, but every time it is slightly different. Sometimes it is the weather, sometimes it is the time of day or the season or sometimes it is just the mood I am in, but every time it is different. Today will be memorable for the brief appearance of the sun, in what had otherwise been a pretty overcast day. It is only a shame the pylons and power lines ruined the scene.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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If the weather carries on like this I am not going to get much family history done

9 Apr

The weather in April has been an absolutely splendid so far, we have had bright sunny days and temperatures reaching 20°c and just above. Comparing this to my nearly twenty years of temperature records it is about 4°c above the average for April.

This has meant I have taken the opportunity to get out and to some walking, perhaps a little earlier in the year than when I would normally start some serious walking. Today my wife and I did about eight miles of walking on the Downs Link path in West Sussex.

The weather was absolutely superb, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and a slight cooling breeze. We walked from Partridge Green to the former Beeding Cement Works before catching the bus back home. The path is another disused railway line, which is mainly level and rural but with occasional diversions along pavements.

Unlike the other stretches of disused railway line I have recently walked, this one is very familiar to me and has much better views as the railway line heads for a gap in the South Downs. It also crosses the River Adur at regular intervals, the photo above is looking west from Betley Bridge (north of Henfield, West Sussex) towards the South Downs and you can just make out Chanctonbury Ring on the ridge of the hills.

Further on the path diverts from the course of the railway line and crosses the river again south of Bramber, West Sussex. The photo below shows the view from the bridge looking south towards what was once the Beeding Cement Works.

Wandering: East Grinstead to Groombridge

2 Apr

Today’s weather was almost perfect for walking, spring is well and truly here, in fact it almost felt like summer. At home the temperature reached 20°c, the highest of the year so far, but I wasn’t at home, I was out walking the Forest Way Country Park with my friend Chris.

The name country park is a little misleading, painting pictures of large open spaces, instead this country park is actually a long thin strip of land, another disused railway line, and an extension of the Worth Way which we walked just over a couple of months ago.

The route runs from East Grinstead, West Sussex to Groombridge, East Sussex and is about 10 miles in length. Apart from the distance it is not a particularly challenging walk, the path is mostly level and well surfaced with only a few wet patches which were easily negotiated.

East Grinstead was a little awkward to negotiate, the actual railway line is now a busy road with no pavements so the path makes its way unsignposted through the streets of the town. This was the only part of the route that required a map because once on the railway line proper it was just a case of keeping on heading the same direction. There is a section of the path between Forest Row and Hartfield with is almost as straight an arrow for over two miles.

The route can be quite easily (and almost equally) divided into three sections by the villages along the route the first being Forest Row, which the route just clips on the northern side of the village. Next along the line is Hartfield, which at first glance doesn’t seem to be very large, but it does have two pubs which are almost neighbours. We stopped here briefly for refreshments before heading off at a rapid rate to catch the bus from Groombridge.

The first half of the route was largely devoid of anything of railway interest, besides a few bridges, but further on Hartfield and Withyham still have station buildings and remains of platforms in evidence. At Groombridge the disused railway line meets the present railway line, but it wasn’t trains we were looking for but a bus. A rather quick walk up the hill got us into Groombridge with literally minutes to spare before the bus was due. As it happened we needn’t have rushed because the bus was 10 minutes late.

What really pleased me was to see so many Millennium Mileposts along this route. I think there were seven in all, in varying conditions. The one below is at Forest Row and has been carefully painted and looks stunning. In the absence of trig points I am finding “collecting” these mileposts to be equally rewarding!

 

Unplugged: Walking The Worth Way

29 Jan

This was my first proper walk of the year, well actually our first proper walk of the year because I walked it with my friend Chris. The Worth Way is only seven miles in length and is mainly level, providing a gentle start to the year and an ideal warm-up for something more challenging.

The Worth Way follows the route of disused railway line from Three Bridges to East Grinstead (both in West Sussex). The railway was closed in 1967, along with so much of Britain’s rail network, a little over a 110 years after it was opened. This is the reason the path is mainly level and because it is also a cycle path the surface of the path is pretty good as well.

The route is pretty typical of a disused railway line, a fairly solid, mostly well drained surface and tree and bushes crowding in from the banks either side. One disadvantage of this type of path is that it largely obscures the views either side of the path, but it is not quite so bad this time of year when the trees and bushes have no leaves on them.

To be honest there wasn’t much in the way of views and only few points of interest along the route. The first place that stood out was Worth Church, which is just off the actual route. I was particularly intrigued by the height of the church walls, which look to be double the height of the normal church walls. I wonder what the story is behind those? I believe there are family connections with the parish of Worth which I need to get around to investigating eventually.

One of the most interesting things for me about walking disused railways is finding signs of its former use. On the Worth Way the most obvious example of this is Rowfant station, where the station buildings are still standing. Rowfant station was one of only two stations between Three Bridges and East Grinstead, the other was Grange Road station at Crawley Down, but no trace of that remains. Another railway feature still standing is the bridge below, which is quite an interesting design, which I would not really associate with a railway bridge.

All in all it was quite a good walk, not particularly taxing and probably better tackled in the spring or summer when there is more growth and colour and warmer, although the path was quite sheltered from the cold wind. The disused railway line continues another 9.5 miles from East Grinstead to Groombridge and is known as the Forest Way, which it would make sense for us to follow next time we go for a walk.

Capital Ring: Finchley Road to Finsbury Park

9 Oct

It felt really good this morning to be setting off up the road with my walking boots on my feet and a rucksack on my back. It didn’t feel quite so good to see the bus disappearing round the corner without me! So slightly later than planned my friend Chris and I walked another section of the Capital Ring path.

This section was a lot better than either of was expecting, the previous walk had been quite demoralising but this was quite a nice walk, the signposting was very good, and there was very little of the wandering around residential streets of the last walk. The weather helped as well, there was a thick layer of cloud, but it was quite warm, although the sun didn’t break through until we were on the train on the way home.

Much of the walk was through woodland, which really helped make for a pleasant walk. Cherry Tree Wood was particularly good because of the nice little cafe, but Highgate Wood and Queens Wood were both good, with some steep climbs in Queens Wood. Despite quite a lot of rainfall in the last couple of months most of the paths were pretty good (not too muddy) and there was a clear sign of autumn in the carpet of leaves in the woodland.

The final stretch of today’s route (between Highgate and Finsbury Park) was along a section of disused railway line (the Edgware, Highgate and London Railway), now known as the Parkland Walk. I am no stranger to disused railway lines, after all Sussex has quite a few of them, but I wasn’t really expecting to find one in London. Not only are they usually flat and well surfaced, but they also give the opportunity to find some remnants of the railway, like the platforms below, which are the remains of Crouch End Hill station.

Disused railway station

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