Sunday, 9 April 2017

Breadsall Greenway - the Early Days

On a cold but sunny day in January 2006, a group of Sustrans Rangers were exploring possible new off road cycle routes and rode off to look at the disused railway at Breadsall. We had been told by Sustrans that it would never be an official cycle route as "it goes nowhere".
Derbyshire County Council had better ideas and two years later were hard at work converting the hilly and muddy path into a hard surfaced multi purpose route.  It was not an easy task as the derelict railway was not flat due to unstable ground and the removal of some bridges when the rail closed in the 1960s, another victim of  Dr. Beeching.

Prior to that, the Great Northern Railway crossed the then town of Derby from North East to South West with Friargate Station the focal point in the centre. A large brick viaduct crossed the valley about where the Meteor Centre stands today and the railway crossed City Road at Chester Green and the River Derwent on Handisides Bridge which is now a pedestrian/cycle route.

Breadsall had a fine station together with a signal box, a lamp shed and a level crossing. The Station Master, Mr. Joseph Taylor, his family and the Station Cat, Timmy, lived in a house adjacent to the station.

The train above was about to pass beneath the A608 road seen here after the line was closed.
Subsequent road widening meant that the bridge was part demolished and the cycle path had to go over the remains with access on the steep bank seen on the right here.

                                     Lots of trees were felled to achieve this.


All that remains of the station platforms today

The trackbed was not bad in some places ............................

                                          ...but much worse in others.

New fencing was erected along the new path. This piledriving machine is so powerful that the posts are square ended and not pointed as you might expect.

The path originally ended at the junction with the A608 road but in 2013, Derbyshire County Council completed Phase 2 of the project taking the path  another 2km in the direction of Ilkeston, it's ultimate destination.
Note that the route was originally designated as Route 66 of the National Cycle Network, but was renamed Route 672 to avoid confusion with the Regional Route 66 which encircles the City of Derby.

Elsewhere  on this blog, you will find  a post with photographs of the Phase 2 path.
Click HERE for that.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Boston Lincolnshire

The flat lands of The Fens around Boston are good for cycling as there are very few hills of any consequence and there are lots of interesting features to be seen. National Cycle Route 1 brings the Water Rail Way into the town from Lincoln via Woodhall Spa alongside the River Witham.
See previous posts here on the Water Rail Way, dated May and July 2015.

St. Botolph's Church, better known as Boston Stump, stands high above the town and is visible from many miles around.  Here it is seen from the large Market Place.

                                                 It stands very close to the River Witham.

                                        Magnificent stone work at close quarters.

The town has not been spoiled by modern developments and many lovely old buildings survive.....

.................................................including some narrow cobbled streets.

                                     The river is tidal downstream of the Town Bridge.

Here  is the harbour, home of the fishing fleet which gathers shellfish from the shallow waters of The Wash.

The Fens abound in artificial waterways used primarily to drain the fertile land, but also used in past times as major transport routes, and more recently for recreational boating.

An unusual road sign alongside the water.

Alongside the West Fen Drain stands the Maud Foster Windmill, an imposing structure still in working order and open to visitors on Fridays and weekends. It is one of the tallest working windmills in the country and unusual in having five sails.
The B1183 runs alongside in the direction of Horncastle.

The country lanes around Boston are ideal for cycling this circular route taking us around the North west side of the town to join the Water Rail Way at Anton's Gowt . This is actually the name of the nearby village and the word "gowt" means a drain. Presumably it belonged to Anton.

The locks here join one of the large drains to the River Witham and would no doubt have been used to control the relative water levels especially at times of flooding rather than, as on most canals, to enable the passage of boats.
This viewing tower was erected as a feature on the Water Rail Way...................

................... giving better views of the surroundings ...........................

...............although Boston Stump is visible from far away.