4 Exeter Circular

Yesterday, the scout rode to Brampford Speke again, this time turning east to cross the G.W. main line at Stafford Bridge.

The Southern Main Line looking from Pynes Bridge back towards Cowley Bridge Junction. This was still double line when the scout rode this route regularly.
Looking the other way towards North Devon. the scout imagined the L. & S.W. Ocean Mail being checked here by Cowley’s distant, as the G.W. rival sped on its way.
An Up train about to cross Stafford Bridge, seen from the bridleway below Woodrow Barton.
An up Cross Country HST accelerating away from a P.R.S. at Cowley about to cross Stafford Bridge.

On the bridge the scout met the farmer at Woodrow doing his rounds. He asked the scout if anything special was due, as that is the only time the farmer sees anyone lingering on the bridge.

They talked about grassland, milk production, flooding, Network Rail and farming in general. He told the scout that his pasture had been flooded twice this year and that he had to walk over it each time to pick up debris washed down river. He told the scout that a lot of damage can be done to a forage harvester by a metal can.

He had complained to Network Rail about the state of the occupation crossing. He told the scout that he once phoned to ask for three minutes to get his herd across, only for a cow to get a hoof caught in the timbers (at long last replaced by rubber units). Trying to extract it, he could hear the phones ringing – the signalman asking for “line clear.”​

After lunch in the community-run Stoke Canon Inn, the scout rode over the hill to Pinhoe where again he crossed the Southern main line by Tony Speller’s station.
From here can be seen traffic on the M5, which crossed the railway on a bridge built for a single line when a double line structure would have been marginally more expensive. Remember that the motorway builders were going to build a bridge over the Hemyock Branch at Tiverton Junction. +
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