Home Department of Planning & Idea Generation Department of Railed Transport Department of Sleeping Department of Staying-in-Bed Department of Comment, Satire & Tripe Fun Stuff How To... Wye Valley Railway Seasonal area 

Seasonal area

July 2015

Current Seasonal Area is here

Sapperton is a sweet little village at the top of a north-facing hill in South Gloucestershire. It cannot be seen in this picture, which was obtained by walking down through Sapperton, passing into a field and setting down amongst the long grass for lunch. It is fundamentally a perfect field and a most delightful place for catching the sun with very few disturbances (except, of course, everyone else who has read this page and decided to pile off to Sapperton for their holidays this summer).

The peaceful serenity is in something of a contrast to the various bits of trunk transport infrastructure that use this little valley to reach the market (ex-industrial) town of Stroud and the banks of the River Severn - Sapperton has given its name to some three tunnels that pass through its escarpment into the infant Thames Valley to the south. The first to be built was for the Thames and Severn Canal, which placed its north portal amongst the trees in the centre of the picture. The tunnel struggled with the problems of being bored through clay and then filled with water for many years before the canal company gave up on the idea of competing with the railway. Subsequently the tunnel has collapsed in several places. These collapses all appear to have left voids above the collapse, so there is no sign on the surface and plenty of potential for future collapses.

Access to the bore is inconvenienced by the fact that groundwater drains out of the hill into the tunnel and both portals are dammed, giving a constant water depth of a few inches.

In later years the Cheltenham & Great Western Union Railway turned up to unite Cheltenham with the Great Western Railway (at Swindon). It spent a great deal of money on the topic, eventually bequeathing to the larger concern a steeply-graded line up the side of the Stroud Valley built as cheaply as conceivably possible (which was not very). Passing through the escarpment required the boring of Sapperton Long and Short Tunnels. Unlike the canal tunnel, these remain daily use - although their status has been much reduced since the opening of the Severn Tunnel saw the London/ South Wales traffic diverted away from this route and the onward line from Gloucester down the Severn Estuary.

Sapperton Long Tunnel was the second-longest tunnel on the Great Western network when it opened (after Box); it later dwindled in status to the tenth, but closure of Rhondda, Merthyr and Wenvoe has brought it back up to seventh place. The only sounds that disturb this Sapperton field are the spluttering aircraft from nearby Kemble Airport and the calls of the trains clambering up the hill from Stroud before their plunge into Sapperton Long Tunnel. The emergence is one of the better bits of bursting from a tunnel in the country.

The canal also makes a most agreeable walk, drifting down the valley as the landscape steadily becomes more built-up before an eventual arrival into Stroud. Removal of lock gates and general draining-down means that east of Stroud it is predominantly not accessible to boats at present.

<<<Seasonal Area June 2015<<<

^^^Current Seasonal Area^^^

>>>Seasonal Area August 2015>>>

Last modified 10/07/2015

© The Order of the Bed