Opened in 1903, this 600ft viaduct was the first in Britain to be constructed in concrete. Unfortunately, the builders ran into problems when subsidence was discovered between two of the arches. This was subsequently reinforced by a fill-in arch, which gives it an unusual and distinctive look. It is the only remaining part of the Axminster to Lyme Regis railway branch line, which was closed in 1965 during the 'Beeching Cuts'.
The viaduct can be seen from the A3052 road between Seaton and Lyme Regis, and looks quite toy-like nestling between the hills. Close to, its impressive height has a slightly oppressive quality, and seems incongruous to be spanning a quiet country lane in the middle of a farming community. There's a slight high-pitched singing from the wire attached beneath the span too, which is a little eerie.
A short distance along the lane is Shapwick Grange Chalk Quarry, which also adds to the otherworldliness of the landscape. I didn't know it was there until I looked at the maps on-line before going, and was really chuffed to be able to explore that too while there. My first quarry! Please note though, that since my visits to the quarry it is no longer abandoned but is now being re-worked, therefore access may not be possible.
The photo of the viaduct below, taken from the quarry.
My first visit to the viaduct was in November 2007, followed by a further explore the following year with a friend, at which time we investigated the possibility of walking across it. As it happened, the bridge was fenced off and totally overgrown. Mind you, I'm totally acrophobic, so I wasn't keen on walking over if it had been accessible! Not least because of the tiny ridge of earth across to the bridge with massive drops either side, below.
However, late in 2010, another friend had been told that it's now accessible, and invited me to join him to investigate. It was indeed accessible, and the following photos show some of the walk across and the views from the top.
I have to admit that there were moments of complete frozen terror for me whenever I remembered what wasn't between me and terra firma, but it was so well worth it.
Below...that's a long way to go to get to the end!
By the way, I must apologise for the bad quality of some of the photos; I seem to have had a bad camera day, plus the printer managed to lose half of the first film in the machine. The biggest problem with 35mm photography is that you don't know what you've got until the films are processed, and it isn't always possible to go back and retake them...as in this case!
Cracks in the concrete walls didn't inspire my confidence!
Looking back, below.
Fantastic views through the grills in the parapet walls...
Finally reached the western end.
Very overgrown at that end and no way off, which meant, of course, going back the way we came. I was very much hoping we didn't have to do that! ;)
A final photo of the fantastic view over the parapet; lower due to the build-up of earth from the trees and shrubs growing on the bridge, then a much-needed ciggy break before the journey back across to the start.
Next post up, Shapwick Grange Quarry just along the lane. :)