Friday, 25 March 2016

Bedford to Hitchin - Part Two - Ickleford to Henlow Camp

Now a look at the section from Ickleford to Henlow Camp.  The difficulties of using the old route increase as we move north.

On the other side of the field shown at the end of the last post, the line crossed Snailswell Lane.  In this picture from 1964 the bridge had been reduced to a single span but a walkway replaced the other span.  This was quite a low clearance bridge.

 This is the bridge looking back towards Hitchin with the large field immediately the other side of the bridge.
 Here is the site of the bridge today.  Absolutely no sign of its existence now or is there?
 On the left is a well built culvert taking a drainage ditch under the line which has survived.  I am sure that there are people living here who have no idea that a (once) twin tracked main line railway passed through here.

After Snailswell Lane the embankment became a cutting. Here the line passes under Three Arches bridge heading towards open farm land.  I can remember visiting this bridge with a friend few times in 1962 not realising that the line had closed to passengers.  Unsurprisingly we never saw anything pass under the bridge.
Looking back towards Ickleford.  This cutting was controversially filled with rubbish in the 1980's.  There were fears that flooding would cause contaminated water to leech out into the village.  Presumably the embankment between Arlesey Road and Snailswell Lane was removed at the same time and used to cap off the landfill.

This is shot taken from the site of Three Arches bridge looking the same way as the last picture showing the filled in cutting. The farmer does not appear to use the land.
Here is probably why the land is not used.  One of a number of monitoring boreholes.
 A closer look reveals the label stating it is an observation monitoring borehole and that it should not be filled.
 This was the site of the actual bridge. The bridleway dips a bit where the ground has settled over the years.
 Looking north towards Henlow, the land above the infilled cutting is being farmed
 Looking back toward three arches bridge from the edge of the next field
 Moving on towards Henlow, the ground is quite uneven where the infilling has settled.
 The cutting ended around here and the line continued on a low embankment. This looks back towards Ickleford.
The line crossed this field but no trace of it remains apart from possibly this small culvert in the centre of this picture.
Again the course of the line is quite clear from the air. Fifty odd years of ploughing still haven't managed to remove the evidence of the route it took.
 I couldn't follow the trackbed any further so I had to relocate to the A600 Bedford Road. This picture looks over to the infilled cutting marked by the fence line.
 Turning left from the same spot, the line continued behind the small trees.
 It then emerged on this still visible raised ground to cross this field.  The overhead line gantries of the ECML are visible in the background.
 After crossing the field, the line continued towards Henlow on another section of embankment marked by the tree line.
 More of the same embankment.  Where it ends on the left it has been narrowed considerably by ploughing over the years. It carries on across the next field before entering what was Henlow Camp station.
 The dip in the driveway marks what would have been an occupation crossing still visible more than 50 years after closure.
 From the crossing looking towards Ickleford.  The large tree in the centre marks the start of the embankment.
 Looking the other way to the edge of Henlow Camp. Trees in the centre mark the start of another embankment which took the line into the station.
 Here is the same heavily wooded embankment seen from a new housing development.
The name of play area acknowledges the former existence of the railway as do some of the road names.  Maybe not the best idea though as Network Rail spend millions on getting the safety message about not playing on or near railway lines across!
The overgrown embankment continued until encroached on by the back gardens of new housing.marked by the fence.
Next post will be Henlow Camp with some old pictures of the station.

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