Somerset & Dorset 1

The scout rode south from Templecombe in August, 2017.

The station was reopened in 1983 and the box doubled as a ticket office. The Up platform was only accessible by using the footbridge and so later, after the box was closed, the Down platform was extended out to the single line and a new building was erected.
The Gartell Light Railway occupies part of the course of the S. & D. between Templecombe and Henstridge. Here its Park Lane terminus is seen from the former level crossing in 2014. The scout had had the privilege of joining a P.W.I. group visit to the light railway.
On a ride in 2014, the scout snapped this at the former Marsh Lane level crossing at Henstridge.
The former level crossing on Station Road, Stalbridge.
At Sturminster Newton, both Station Road and Bath Road overbridges have gone. The scout is standing where Station Road once was. Beyond the commemorative gates, the cutting has been infilled.
Only the goods shed remains at Sturminster Newton. The station building lay to the left.

After a proper breakfast in “Stur,” the scout rode along the course of the line, crossing the River Stour on the way to Shillingstone.

The trail leaves the railway formation on the approach to Stourpaine and this is the view from the village on the way to rejoining the line just beyond the underbridge at the former Stourpaine & Durweston Halt.

Flanders and Swann singing The Slow Train.

“No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortehoe”

On the way back from Blandford, the scout left the trail and joined the main road. This is the view of the embankment seen earlier, this time looking back towards Stourpaine.
On another occasion, the scout would seat himself at Holy Trinity Church for lunch.
The embankment looks much as it did when it was operational. Today, if there were trains, they would hardly be seen because of lineside neglect.

At Shillingstone, a disgruntled former member of the preservation group had put glue in the locks and the scout’s first impression was of a project with some divisions of opinion. Understandably annoyed, one man gave vent in front of the lasses in the cafe and the visiting public, which rather let the place down.

After lunch, the scout had a quiet word with a trustee and voiced his displeasure at hearing a volunteer loudly using foul language in front of everyone. The trustee told the scout that he was glad he had remarked on it because he needed good reason to bring up the matter.

The scout left the S. & D. and struck off towards Shaftesbury.

Shaftesbury, the “Town on the Hill” it says on the sign as you approach it. And they’re not joking. Here is the scout climbing Gold Hill, scene of the famous 1973 Hovis T.V. advertisement.

It was with great reluctance that the scout left Shaftesbury, hoping to spend an hour in Gillingham. When he called at the station to see how the train he had booked on was running (it being during engineering work at Waterloo), he found that it was cancelled and that the earlier one was due. The train operator had kindly left bottled water in the waiting room for weary cyclists.

The train was lightly loaded but the scout doubted that the later one would have been. At St. David’s, he asked the driver whether, if he had had to stop on Honiton bank, he would reach line speed (85 m.p.h.) again. He told the scout that trains never achieve line speed; the best he had ever done was 78 m.p.h.

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