31 Okehampton to Holsworthy

With the need to collect two wheelbarrows from Mole Valley at Holsworthy, an excuse arose for a rare long distance diagram for the railway’s utilicon. It must have been getting on for 20 years since the scout last went that way on the X9 to Bude, which destination for some reason was then available on the Dartmoor Sunday Rover ticket.

On arrival at Mole Valley’s depot on Underlane, just beneath the station site, the scout marched into the yard office and demanded a discount for two barrows he knew they’d had in stock for a long time. For his cheek, he won a member’s discount, all of 4%.

The forecast was for grey all day, but the sun came out for his jaunt over Derriton Viaduct and down the line as far as the first overbridge, about three parts of a mile.

Derriton Viaduct, looking Up line towards Holsworthy.
Looking towards Bude. +

Then he wandered around town, familiarizing himself with the place again and noting what had changed, before going along Station Road to see the transformation of the station since he last took photos there.

The station end of Holsworthy Viaduct in 1991. An old pal of the scout used to spin a yarn about a train that stopped short of the station one night and an elderly gentleman who got out and stood on the parapet wall in the dark, thinking it was the platform, having to be hauled back in! He has no doubt that a passenger once went to open a door too soon, but with the retelling and plenty of beer the story grew.
What he was met with in 2019.
Holsworthy Viaduct. +

Dunsland Cross

A three minute stop at Dunsland Cross was enough to capture the station entrance.

Halwill Junction

How many roads must have been named after Beeching or his handiwork? This is where Halwill Junction Station stood.
Back in the ’80s, when the station was still a ruin, the scout went in this pub and sat at the bay window just visible to the right of the lean-to. His old pal told him that when he was relief booking clerk, he would date the tickets he thought he would sell and call the regular passengers to the pub window, where he was taking refreshment. The scout wondered if the lean-to was there on the last occasion because he remembered having a clear view of the platforms from the bay window. 
This memorial to the former railway system stands not far from the Junction Inn. +
An enlargement of the map seen in the notice above.
Seven of the sidings reached this concrete buffer stop.
Behind the camera is the former Winsford Cottage Hospital, a lovely Arts and Crafts building of 1898. The children’s ward faced the railway as an aid to recovery. Decommissioned by the health authority in 1998, it has been tastefully converted into accommodation.
At the other end of the station are the junctions, now in a Devon Wildlife Trust reserve. This is where the North Cornwall line diverges. From left to right, there would have been North Cornwall; Refuge; Bude Branch; and North Devon Light, whose divergence (not junction) from the Bude Branch was about a third of a mile further on. The light railway had its own loop just beyond here, so there would have been five tracks in view. Ahead was milepost 210, measured from Waterloo; or 20-something from Torrington in the other direction. 
Barely discernible is the ramp of the light railway platform. Housing has spread into the cutting and a fellow in his garden was startled by the scout poking around in the jungle. He was quite open to the prospect of rail transport returning – unusually, he brought it up – and said he had had a leaflet through the door on the subject.
Copyright: Roger Joanes. Shared under Creative Commons. +
Copyright: Roger Joanes. Shared under Creative Commons. +
Copyright: Roger Joanes. Shared under Creative Commons. +
Copyright: Roger Joanes. Shared under Creative Commons. +


The view from space which shows some track.

Copyright: Roger Joanes. Shared under Creative Commons. +

There was one more stop before Okehampton, where the scout was hoping to have lunch.

Maddaford Moor Halt

Possibly now concentrating more on his tummy rumbles, the scout did not walk on far enough to see the remains of Maddaford Moor Halt – or Maddaford Moor Halt for Thorndon Cross, to give it the full name. 
Copyright: Roger Joanes. Shared under Creative Commons. +
A little further on is an accommodation bridge giving a view of the moor. In sight would have been the 3/4 milepost, from Meldon Junction. 


After pulling in to Okehampton at 14.28, the scout was pleased to find the buffet doing a good trade. While devouring some excellent pies, he read in Railnews that publishing of the two big reviews – Williams and Oakervee – were now to be delayed. It all seemed a world away from one of the lost strands of the network he’d just seen. (2022: The events of the following year did nothing to speed the publication of the two reports.)

This is not a load the designers of the B.R.-built Sturgeon had in mind, even for this versatile wagon. The ends of this one, like most, have been cut off. The stanchions and dropsides are carried in cubby holes beneath the deck, but the scout had never seen them used. 

The buffet experience would have been so much better if there’d been a flurry of activity outside, like a Bude or Padstow pulling in, followed by a Friary and a Waterloo crossing.

This entry was posted in Uncategorised. Bookmark the permalink.