A walk along the old railway line to West Bay
Although the railway line between Bridport and West Bay closed for passengers in September 1930 and for goods traffic in 1964 part of it has been converted into a popular cycling and walking route to West Bay. We pick the path up close to the Crown Roundabout on the Burton Bradstock Road.
We have taken a walk along the railway line this October to discover displays of gold, orange, scarlet, gold and an infinite range of green hues found on the autumn leaves. The salt-laden winds that are often experienced in West Bay and along the Jurassic Coast don’t allow many trees to thrive in exposed areas and this area provides some shelter for wildlife and plants and trees.
Sycamore tree- the seeds known as keys will be twirling downwards like helicopters and creating new plants. This tree was introduced sometime in the 15th-16th century. In the past, it was treated as an alien tree as it was invasive and sycamore bashing was quite common.
The silver leaves of Eucalyptus which originate from Australia. We recently discovered the Forestry Commission have been experimenting in growing them in plantations as an alternative to some of our native trees as the temperature rises.
Hawthorn is a tough and hardy tree. It’s pollen-laden spring flowers and berries (haws) provide excellent food for wildlife.
Blackthorn was long associated with witchcraft and it is said the blackthorn was used to make witches’ wands and staffs. Sloes are the fruit of the blackthorn tree.
Some plants have escaped from neighbouring gardens along the railway track this Stag’s Horn Sumach is spectacular in Autumn as the leaves turn fiery scarlet, purple and gold. the staghorn name comes from the forking branches of the plant looking like antlers.
As we head closer to West Bay we past a balancing lake and a small stream follows the railway line to the sea. Look out for bird life in the surrounding fields. In the winter these fields can flood and it is not uncommon to find swans enjoying a swim.
The award-winning West Bay playground which is situated next to the main West Bay Road car park was designed for all ages and abilities from ages 0-99, so they is no excuse not to visit it too! It includes a sensory area and facilities for the less able. There are also public and disabled toilets and baby changing facilities close by.
We reach the end of the line at West Bay Station which is now home for the Station Kitchen, the converted Great Western goods train provides a unusual and delightful location for a meal. Beyond are the Coastguard Cottages and the sea!