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A Productive Sunday

By Bill Nicholls

My wedding anniversary and what better way to celebrate that to go out wandering (well my wife was off on one her doggy days). As I have been (for want of a better word) researching into the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton Railway for a future article on Geograph I thought I had better get down to Didcot Station and get some photos of the platform and any remnants of the old DN&SR. Didcot Station was opened in 1884 and renamed Didcot Parkway in 1985 when the place was modernised to become a park and ride station. SU5290 : Didcot Station by Bill Nicholls
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In doing so the bay platform for the DN&SR was removed along with the one for the local services to Swindon. You can still see the platform edges of both by the car parks. The car park on the DN&SR extends down the old line and towards the cow lane bridge
SU5290 : End of the carpark by Bill Nicholls SU5290 : End of the platform by Bill Nicholls
Once done it was off to catch up on some benchmarks I had missed. Two in Long Wittenham SU5493 : Pumping Station by the cross by Bill Nicholls SU5493 : Cherry Tree Cottage benchmark by Bill Nicholls(missed the one at the church) but I did get a bonus of a fire mark SU5493 : Fire mark on the cottage by Bill Nicholls, then another on Clifton Hamden Bridge. Into Dorchester and a failure as the BM on the old Plough public house was nowhere to be seen (mist likely rendered over) but I did get a good shot of the one on Dorchester Abbey which I missed the last time SU5794 : Dorchester Abbey Benchmark by Bill Nicholls. After a bite for lunch it was off to Blewbury Downs or Churn bridge where I left my car. My intention was to go to Lowbury Hill and the trig pillar and back via Churn Halt then home.
The morning had been misty so I had hoped it would have cleared by the afternoon but it was not to be, it still clung around though not quite as bad.
First call was the Churn bridge and a couple of photos of where the line went SU5083 : Track from the bridge by Bill Nicholls and one of course the bridge SU5083 : Churn Farm rail Bridge by Bill Nicholls. From here there are various paths you can take for the Ridgeway though I took the easy one along a concrete road to Lower Chance farm which looks like it is a disused MOD property SU5282 : Lower Chance farm by Bill Nicholls. Here you can turn right and go to Churn bridge but at this point I decided to head on to Lowbury Hill. The going was muddy round by the gallops SU5282 : Not the best place to walk by Bill Nicholls but once on the Ridgeway it was fineSU5282 : On to the Ridgeway by Bill Nicholls . After getting on to the Ridgeway proper I noticed a large hill appear SU5382 : First sight of Lowbury Hill by Bill Nicholls. I had thought of the downs as relatively flat but up here Lowbury hill stuck out. Another ten minutes walking and it was off up the hill and the trig pillar SU5382 : Lowbury Hill Trig Point by Bill Nicholls which is now the 14th one on my list. A quick look round at the area showing looking at where the Roman Temple was
SU5482 : Top of Lowbury Hill by Bill Nicholls and it was back down the other side towards the Ridgeway. I took a different route back SU5382 : Track from Lowbury Hill by Bill Nicholls and headed towards the Churn Halt Bridge SU5282 : Bridge in the distance by Bill Nicholls . This one was found in a damaged state with the parapet missing on one sideSU5182 : Missing parapet by Bill Nicholls and a quick scan for benchmarks proved fruitless. Looking both ways along the bridge showed it was very over grown but I went down to the track bed to get a couple of photos of the bridge anyway. The whole track bed by the bridge was littered with rubbish where people (travellers?) had dumped old washing machines, TVs and lots of stripped out cable husks along with some rather large lumps of concrete though I would not put that down to fly tipping. After some photos of the bridge SU5182 : Down from the bridge by Bill Nicholls it was off in search of the halt though this did take some doing with all the dense shrubbery SU5182 : Off to the Halt by Bill Nicholls. Eventually I came across what I thought was the halt SU5182 : Start of the halt by Bill Nicholls then a platform appeared SU5182 : From the other line by Bill Nicholls. I had not realised it was an island type and the railway had gone both sides. One thing I did notice was the halt was in the middle of nowhere and I really canít understand why it was built LinkExternal link
But reading I found out it was it was built as a temporary stop to accommodate a competition held by the National Rifle Association in 1888 but after the Association complained about the facilities there and the improved ones at Bisley it moved there.
The platform is mostly still there SU5182 : Last look at the Halt by Bill Nicholls though is becoming rather damaged through erosion and trees growing SU5182 : Dense vegetation by Bill Nicholls. After hearing shotgun go off nearby I thought it was time to head back to the car so it was off along the footpath and home. I felt the new GPS had done a good job. Next trip will be a comparison with the old Etrex. The Geo Trip can be seen here LinkExternal link


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Thu, 2 Feb 2012 at 12:49
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