23 Route Learning on the S. & D.

After a long series of unhurried outings, the scout finally completed his route learning between Bath (Green Park) and Bournemouth (West).

At the beginning of the month, he did the short section between Poole and the convergence of lines near Broadstone, passing the site of Creekmoor Halt.

6th July, 2019

He had made his usual 0430 start from Christow to catch the 0510 to Yeovil Junction. After a cooked breakfast in the lovely buffet there, which opens at six despite there being hardly a soul about, he rode over to Thornford to stop the train for Dorchester.

Usually, he goes straight over to South Station for the 0833 but, not wanting to be too early for the Swanage, he rode up to Poundbury, the Duchy’s model urban extension, to experience again the strange atmosphere of what at times can seem like a film set.

The scout did not lose sight of his bike while photographing the great expanse of Queen Mother’s Square, Poundbury. Poundbury Tunnel, north of Dorchester (West), was built to avoid destroying the ancient camp. +
The scout had seen this used in a film scene. Through the gap in the buildings, Maiden Castle can be glimpsed, new 2,000 years ago. 

​Then the scout headed back to town for the 0933 to Wareham, whence he rode to Corfe Castle. Not being one to photograph the ordinary when there is something more interesting, he made the coal yard his subject. How many working coal yards can still be found beside stations?

A working coal yard and ramshackle buildings at Corfe Castle Station on the Swanage Branch. +

At Swanage, the scout had a coffee and bun in the carriage cafe before walking along the front and riding to Studland to catch the ferry for Sandbanks.

The floating bridge or chain ferry, crossing the mouth of Poole Harbour, suffered a broken drive shaft only six days after taking the scout and his bike across to Sandbanks. It was out of service until October. +

Were he in a position to choose, the scout would have a place on Restronguet Creek, which he believes is Cornwall’s most expensive spot, but wouldn’t give tuppence for one on Sandbanks.

Poole has a magnificent expanse of water frontage and riding it was a pleasure. Eventually, he came to the old town and followed the course of the harbour tramway to the station.

After going part way to Broadstone and back, he caught the train from Poole to Weymouth. Fearful of the crush for the 1730 to Cary, he took the 1654 to Yeovil Junction, a through service to Waterloo, which was only lightly loaded.

27th July, 2019

This Saturday, it was the same routine, but going to Pen Mill instead of Thornford. Arriving at Hamworthy Junction, the scout quickly found where to join the formation of the original line and followed it most of the way to Broadstone, looking down on the point he had reached on the previous occasion.


The path goes beside the sports building to the left and takes the S. & D. route for a short distance at the junction. It then detours to rejoin the Southampton line, but the scout went through some rough to find the road and Corfe Mullen Halt.

Corfe Mullen Halt

“Corfe Halt Close” confirms the site. +
From this bridge whose mileage mark the scout could not find, the junction (Corfe Mullen) of the lines to Wimborne and Broadstone would once have been seen ahead.

​Then it was on to Bailey Gate Crossing, where the scout thought that a bobby putting the gates across the road today would not be a popular fellow. He’s not shy in crossing busy roads but this one had him waiting to leap for what seemed like ages. He was very glad that he didn’t have to go far on the A31 before turning for Sturminster Marshall.

Bailey Gate Crossing

There was nothing left of Bailey Gate Station. A few miles further on, the scout joined the formation and rode into Spetisbury.


The place is well looked after by the Spetisbury Station Project.
This was the only platform until 1901. The concrete at right is the floor of the brick-built Ladies’ Waiting Room, an extension of the wooden station building. A new building was provided on what became the Up platform.
The steps down to the road.
The scout always reflects on the moment works like this ceased to be used. One week they were busy with people – children rushing, old folks taking the steps one at a time – and the next they were silent, thanks to a man signing a document.

Charlton Marshall Halt

Charlton Marshall Halt, looking towards Bath.

Blandford  Forum is a beautiful town ruined by road traffic. The scout rode around for a bit and then headed uphill as if he knew where to find the Co-op. He bought his lunch and planned to stop at the first place from where there was a decent view.

Just beyond the Co-op was a railway bridge and he dropped down to join the line. At Stourpaine, the scout clambered up the bank to photograph the halt.

Stourpaine & Durweston Halt

Moments later, the scout spied his lunch spot.

Shillingstone had come on noticeably since the scout was last there. A name on a board told who was in charge on this day, a reminder that even little projects like this must now have exhaustive safety cases stuffed in ring binders.

Then the scout took the same roads as two years ago to Shaftesbury, where he tried climbing Gold Hill. He’d like to say that it was because of his bald tyres that he only managed three yards.

No one of a certain age can forget Hovis choosing Shaftesbury to be its northern village.
And a fit fellow is seen here overcoming what defeated the scout.

After savouring more of Shaftesbury, the scout hared down the hill to Gillingham, where he had plenty of time before the 1717 train to Central. He had ridden 51 miles when he returned to the utilicon.

Poole ticked off all the operational stations in Dorset. Now he had only to visit West Moors, Wimborne, Daggons Road and Verwood of the dead ones. He could not have known what would get in the way of his completing this mission and that it would be three years before he returned to Hamworthy Junction.

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