Today my wife and I took a walk along the North Dorset Trailway, past Spetisbury station and up to the iron age hillfort known as Spetisbury Rings or Crawford Castle. Although it is still a bit chilly for the time of year, it was nice to see the fresh springtime colours all around and see a kestrel hovering overhead. The station team are very much looking forward to resuming work parties later this month – heck out our event diary page for updates.
On our walk I couldn’t help think about the changing landscapes through which ran the Somerset & Dorset railway. The northern section from Bath down to Evercreech Junction took the line over the steep Mendip Hills through a succession of tunnels and over several viaducts, passing several collieries. Heavy trains often had to be double-headed to cope with the gradients up to the summit of the line 811ft above sea level at Masbury. From Evercreech Junction down to Bournemouth the scenery was more open and rolling, and any late-running trains could make up a bit of lost time on the fastest section of the line from Blandford through Spetisbury to Corfe Mullen. In complete contrast, from Evercreech Junction a branch line ran across the lonely and remote Somerset Levels, carefully avoiding any centres of population (except Glastonbury) on its way to Burnham-on-Sea. This section was often dead straight and level for mile after mile. The numerous level crossings were worked from isolated crossing keeper cottages, which mostly had no running water so drinking water was delivered in churns by the locomotive crews. What a lonely, but perhaps very pleasant, way of life!