When I completed my last outing on the Dorset stretch of the South West Coast Path I walked along a short stretch of The Rodwell Trail, a fairly short but extremely well used former railway line that once connected
The official trail runs from Ferrybridge to the town centre in
The railway from
As it was early in the morning I managed to find myself a parking space at the southern end of the trail at Ferrybridge (I wouldn’t mind betting that I would have struggled at any time other than 8am on a Sunday morning!). From the missing bridge across The Fleet the line is surfaced with tarmac and takes a fairly steady uphill gradient. With the salty air and frequent wet weather this must have been quite a struggle for some of the trains heading into
Shortly after starting I passed the former Whitehead Torpedo Factory. The last torpedoes were built here in 1966 but the factory continued to produce a variety of engineering products until its final closure in 1994. The factory buildings were demolished in 1997 to make way for the housing development that now abuts the Trail.
Shortly after I reached the overgrown platform of Wyke Regis halt. This was the first of several halts opened in 1909 to try and increase patronage of the line. It, like all the other halts opened at the same time, was short-lived remaining open only until 1952. Yet, most of the single line platform remains in place, complete with sign advising of its existence. I think this was added as a result of a Heritage Lottery grant which enabled the trail to be put on an official footing. As I looked at the platform with its bramble bush covering I couldn’t help think how inconvenient its location was, buried at the bottom of a deep cutting away from the built up area for which the station was supposed to serve. I wonder how successful it was as a station?
Beyond Wyke Regis and the line emerged from the cutting to show some remarkable views across to
The climbing continued on to
Rodwell Station was a ‘proper’ station, having been opened with the rest of the branch in 1870. Even in closure and with most of the infrastructure long since removed it still has the feel of a more important station. For a start there are two platforms of pretty decent length and at the
It was slightly disappointing to see that
On the side of the trail some way down the hill is another reminder that
The remaining part of the trail was very short, with Westham halt soon creeping up on me. This small station still has a platform remaining but did not last very long as it was one of the 1909 additions. From here the line would once have crossed the busy road at what is now the end of the trail via a level crossing and then crossed
I turned tail at Westham Halt to return back to Ferrybridge. As with so many of these closed lines I tried to picture in my minds eye what this one must have been like to travel on. I am guessing that if it could have clung on another 20 years or so it would have made for a spectacular preserved railway. Nonetheless it is amazing that so much of the trackbed has survived being redeveloped and as a railway trail it really has everything, possibly one of the finest I have followed even for such a short distance. It is highly recommended and although I didn’t do so this time, I could see the appeal in continuing onward to