The Swanage Railway and some good timing

Double Headed on the Swanage Railway
A double header on the Swanage Railway near Corfe Castle

I had an awesome walk at the end of last week – 19 miles from Sandbanks to Wareham around Poole Harbour. It is the longest walk I have done for 6 months because of my ankle problems and it leads me to hope that the problems may have been partly caused by the damp, cold winter weather although I am not sure if this does affect arthritis. With the recent spring weather, hopefully I may be able to get back to walking some decent distances again 🙂 !

This shot was a case of good timing because my walk crossed the heritage steam line near Corfe Castle and I just happened to reach the crossing point as this double headed train went through, puffing lots of steam. It was too good an opportunity to miss 🙂 !

This branch line originally opened in 1885, partly for passengers and partly to serve the quarrying and clay industries of the Purbeck area. In the 1960’s the axe began to fall on the line although because of objections from local residents, it wasn’t until 1972 that it finally closed to passengers, with just a short section remaining open in order to continue to serve the clay and oil works. A short time later, the Swanage Railway Society was formed with the intention of fully restoring the line. Since then, an enormous amount of work has been carried out by staff and volunteers, starting at the Swanage end, relaying track, restoring stations, improving bridges, updating signalling etc. It took until just 2 years ago for the completion of the project and for the line to be finally reconnected to the mainline station at Wareham again. What took a matter of months to destroy, has taken over 40 years to rebuild!

Changing Ends
Changing ends at Norden Station

I remember riding this line in its original format as a teenager back in the 1960’s. It made a lovely day out to take this branch line through the Purbeck valley to Swanage. It seems crazy that so much unnecessary work has had to be completed in order to restore the 10 miles of track when it could have just remained open! And isn’t that true of so many of our old railway lines that, had they not been closed, could have helped to reduce congestion on the roads. The possibility of re-opening some is being looked at, but at what cost!

The Isle of Purbeck is a great area to walk, and these walks are definitely improved by being accompanied by the distinctive sound of steam trains filling the valley. Its like going back to the days of my youth.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings.

Until next time,
Your friend
The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All words and pictures in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and may not be reproduced without permission.


    1. Thanks Dave 🙂 I have several walks planned – I’m going to do part of the Pembroke Coast Path, and I hope to do a 7/8 day walk (maybe the Two Moors Way). My main walk, all being well, will be Offa’s Dyke, probably in the autumn.

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