Sunday, 30 September 2007

Lynton to Barnstaple Railway plans expansion

There has been a particularly interesting piece of Devon news in the last few days and that is the ambitious plans by 'The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Trust' to extend their railway. The original line was a narrow gauge affair that first opened in 1898 but, despite the intervention of the Southern Railway, closed down at the very early date of 1935. In the last few years dedicated enthusiasts have reconstructed a section of it from Woody Bay Station westward for about a mile. Having dipped their toe in the water so to speak the Trust have announced a £30 million project to add another 9 miles. As I understand it they hope to extend the line onward to Blackmore Gate and then go the other way to Lynton. Ultimately they would like to reopen the whole railway to Barnstaple.

I certainly hope that they succeed and accept that preserved railways can be successful. But as to this location I'm just not sure. Remember it wasn't successful in its original life when there wouldn't have been that much competition from the motor car. Having said that narrow gauge lines work in rural Wales and then there was one in the Lake District I went on many moons ago.

For me the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth are one of the most special places in Devon and Cornwall, there is something other world about them. Perhaps it's the fact that you still have to make a fairly determined effort to get there because whereas one can go east - west through our peninsula with relative ease these days it is still quite an adventure to visit our most northerly outpost. Yes Devon's north to south roads are in stark contrast to the much improved A30, A38 and North Devon Link Road.

For anyone visiting the twin villages a trip on the unique water powered cliff railway is a must. This is a business unrelated to the narrow gauge railway.

The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Trust have a website here for anyone wanting to know more.

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