Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

Cannington Viaduct, Nr Uplyme, Devon

Opened in 1903, this 600ft viaduct was the first in the UK 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 and village community. A short distance along the lane is Shapwick Grange Chalk Quarry, which also adds to the otherworldliness of the landscape, and is well worth a visit whilst in the area. 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.

My first visit 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 & gated off and totally overgrown. Mind you, I'm totally acrophobic, so I wasn't keen on walking over if it had been accessible! However, late in 2010, another friend had been told that the gate was open, 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 viaduct. 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!  

Cracks in the concrete walls didn't inspire my confidence!

The two photos below show one of the grills in the openings of the parapet walls and the fantastic view...

...the lane below looking like a stream in the low Winter sunlight.

Looking back, below.

Finally reaching the western end.

And 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, before the journey back across to the start.

More photos along with these can also be seen in the Photo Gallery.     

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