Like so many rural services, the Severn Valley Railway Line has a history full of stops and starts. Now maintained by hundreds of volunteers, it’s the best way to follow the River Severn through its beautiful and practically road-free valley. Completed 150 years ago, the 40-mile line supplied the coal industry and later ran passenger services.
The Beeching rationalisation saw the line close in the 1960s, but budding enthusiasts banded together to reopen passenger services from Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade in 1970, before extending the line to Kidderminster in 1984. For a for a jam-packed double rail experience, catch the steam train to Hampton Loade, and then wander back to Bridgnorth along the River Severn on foot, to the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway.
Enjoy the journey
Bridgnorth’s restrained, neo-Jacobean style, Grade II-listed main station building houses the ticket office, shop and the Railwayman’s Arms pub, opened in 1861. Steam trains depart from Platform One, but climb on to the footbridge for great views of the line, the signal box and the locomotives in the adjacent yard.
The journey to Hampton Loade, four and a half-miles down the line, takes 20 minutes, passing Daniel’s Mill, the largest English waterwheel-powered corn mill still working today. Soon after, the line passes Eardington Halt, no longer used, but the preferred stop for early 20th-century fishermen en route to the River Severn. The line runs parallel to the river in its final approach to the yellow-bricked Hampton Loade station, the epitome of a British rural station.
Alight here, and follow the signs to the Hampton Loade Ferry, the last current-powered foot ferry in England (operates peak season only), to pick up the Severn Way footpath, Britain’s longest river walk, for a gentler return journey. With the Severn on the right, head north, and meander the five miles back into Bridgnorth. Tradition has it that walkers should wave to steam trains as they puff by.
The riverside path reaches Bridgnorth’s Low Town by the Severn Arms Hotel. To the left of this is a small alleyway leading to the town’s other railway, the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway. Established in 1892, to avoid the need of climbing more than 200 steps up to Bridgnorth’s High Town, the track climbs 33m (111 ft), at an angle of 33 degrees, making it England’s oldest and steepest funicular railway line. The top station lies on Castle Hill Walk, with great views across Bridgnorth’s Low Town, which Charles I once claimed as “the finest view in all my kingdom”. He wasn’t wrong.
HOW TO GET THERE
Take Junction 4 at the M54 and follow the A442. The Severn Valley Railway connects with mainline rail services at Kidderminster.
FIND OUT MORE
Severn Valley Railway
King’s Head and Stable
Whitburn Street, Bridgnorth WV16 4QN
Fine ale and food from this 16th-century coach house.
Stoneway Guest House
Stoneway Steps, Bridgnorth WV16 4BD
Watch as the trains pass underneath this cliff house.
West Castle Street, Bridgnorth WV16 4AD