Friday, 17 May 2013

Steaming along The Two Tunnels Project

Last weekend while my sister-in-law was visiting we decided to explore The Two Tunnels Project in Bath, a newly restored and recently opened Sustrans cycle path following the route of the old Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway line, which first opened in 1874.

The Two Tunnels, Bath
One very long and straight railway line
 

The two tunnels of the name are the short (at 447 yards) Devonshire Tunnel and the longer (at 1829 yards) Combe Down Tunnel, the longest cycling tunnel in Britain, both burrowing their way under the streets and townhouses of Georgian Bath.

The Two Tunnels, Bath
Bathonians - Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams, celebrated dandy Beau Nash (we think) and a Roman centurion.
 
 
We started our journey in Bath's Linear Park near the first of the two railway tunnels, Devonshire Tunnel. The route from Linear Park through to Midford village is about 2 ¾ miles and we walked the whole way there and back, stopping at the Hope and Anchor pub in Midford for a pot of tea on the way.

The Two Tunnels, Bath
 
The tunnels are very nostalgic; the walls are still covered with soot from the days of steam trains racing through and you can't help but look over your shoulder, thinking that the Pines Express could be haring its way towards you.

The Two Tunnels, Bath
 
The Two Tunnels, Bath
 
The Two Tunnels, Bath
 

With the obvious exception of the tunnels themselves, the whole path is incredibly green and there were hundreds of bluebells, daisies and other wildflowers scattered along the route, along with many other countryside sights to see.


Tucking Mill Reservoir
Tucking Mill Reservoir

Midford Castle
Midford Castle, a folly once owned by actor Nicolas Cage!

The Two Tunnels, Bath

The Two Tunnels, Bath
 
The Two Tunnels, Bath
 
Midford Station
The remains of Midford Station
 
The Two Tunnels, Bath

The Two Tunnels, Bath
Wonder who lives in this burrow?


It's a shame we don't still have the pre-1960's extensive railway network across the UK but it's excellent that projects like this are being funded to keep the routes open and usable for other transport users.

Tucking Mill Viaduct
Tucking Mill Viaduct


The only surreal thing was in the middle of Combe Down Tunnel, there was strange classical music playing as you walk past, similar to what you might hear in the Pump Rooms in Bath city centre. Perhaps it has some significance but it wasn't explained by any notices and I think playing steam train sounds or lines from "The Slow Train" by Flanders and Swann (as read by railway enthusiast John Betjeman in his 1963 documentary about the closure of the Somerset and Dorset rail line) would be altogether more appropriate.

The Two Tunnels, Bath
 
Anyone else done the Two Tunnels?
 
 

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