Tales From The Edge

The Depths of Tring Railway Cutting

Tales From The Edge
This is an occasional series where I go to the edge of North Bucks and show you what I've found.

Tring railway cutting is deep. It’s so deep it took me two visits to find a way of photographing it.

On the first try, I could get on a footpath right next to the wire fence and could hear trains go by, but couldn’t see them no matter what I did. I was also not in Buckinghamshire, as the county boundary goes along the middle of the road and over the bridge.

On the second try I went into the College Lake nature reserve and walked along the wooden fence by the cutting, but couldn’t see a thing. It’s a nice place to visit, though.

Back to the road and the bridge over the railway, where I found I could stand on the crash barrier at one end of the bridge and hold the camera up high. It took a few goes, but I got a photo of the slow train trundling by on the furthest set of tracks. Fast trains on the nearest tracks were still invisible to me.

Tring Railway Cutting at folly BridgeFolly Bridge carries the B488 Upper Icknield Way, a Roman road, across the cutting.

That’s great, but it doesn’t show you folks the depth and scale of the cutting. I jumped down and walked to the middle of the bridge; there’s a narrow footpath beside the road.

The bridge parapet is above head height. I put on a long lens, and held the camera above my head. After ten minutes and sixteen attempts, I got the shot.

Tring Railway Cutting from Folly BridgeLooking North into Bucks from Folly Bridge.

Folly bridge carries the B488 over the cutting at about it’s maximum depth of 12m, 40 feet. Work began in mid 1835, and the two and a half mile cutting was finished in late 1837. Except for where rock blasting was needed, it was all dug by hand. That’s an enormous amount of earth. The cutting took two tracks and the sides were at a 45° angle.

The cutting was widened in 1859 to take three lines, and again in 1876 to take four. It was widened again in the 1960s during electrification of the line and the sides of the cutting are now at a much steeper angle. No wonder I couldn’t see into it.

More than any I’ve done so far, this is truly a tale from the edge.

Thanks to Roger Runswick for telling me about this place on the edge.


The Wrong Sort of Weather on the Line

Tales From the (damp) Edge

I finished the job in Ampthill last Thursday, just as the rain started. I looked on the map to see what I could take a picture of in the much needed rain, and spotted Woburn Sands railway station. By the time I had driven to Woburn Sands it was raining so hard I didn’t want to get out of the car. After weeks of nothing but roasting hot weather, I hadn’t thought to bring a coat.

I sat in the car in a side street near the railway station, just inside the county border with Beds. I checked that the camera was ready while I waited. The rain eased off, and I walked briskly across the road and onto the Eastbound platform.

The next train was due in fifteen minutes. I stood in the shelter. My plan was to photograph passengers getting on or off the train while the rain lashed down, but the rain was easing. A passenger waiting on the platform glanced at the sky and happily commented that it was brightening up. I looked up and scowled.

Woburn Sands railway station Bedford trainLook at this. The flippin’ platform is nearly dry! Lovely aerial
perspective, though.

The train arrived. It wasn’t raining. I took a photo of it drawing in. I also took a few shots of the passengers, but as people just getting on a train in nondescript weather aren’t very interesting, I’m not going to show you those. What I’m going to show you is aerial perspective.

Aerial perspective is that softening and blurring of detail in the landscape, the further away it is. It’s due to moisture and/or dust in the air. There hasn’t been a lot of moisture in the air recently, but probably quite a bit of dust.

In the main picture, if you look down the line into the distance you can see it quite, er, clearly; the tones are more muted, and in the far distance the hills look grey blue. This effect is often more noticeable after rain, and you can see it better in the detail photo below. Next time you go out, look out for it.

Woburn Sands railway station aerial perspectiveHere’s a close up. Even the trees in the foreground are softened
and muted. The effect becomes more and more noticeable as
distance increases. Beyond the bend in the track, details disappear
and the land at the horizon is a muted blue green.


Grove Village

Tales From The Edge

This is the first in an occasional series where I go to the edge of North Bucks and show you what I've found.

This is the tiny village of Grove. There's a couple of farms, a lock keeper's cottage, and a tiny church that's now a private house. There's also the canal, and that's it. Grove is off the B488, just South of Leighton Buzzard.

The lock at GroveA canal boat heading North, at Grove.


Leaky lock gates at GroveThese lock gates are leaking so badly that the water in the lock (which should be at the same level as the water beyond) is so low that the crew of the boat in the previous photo had to raise the paddles in the far gate before their boat could enter the lock. This photo was taken before the previous one.


Lock keeper's cottage and old church  GroveThe lock keeper's cottage, and beyond is the old church of Saint Michael and All Angels, once the smallest church in the county, and mentioned in the Domesday Survey.


Ordnace Survey Bench MarkThis Ordnance Survey Bench Mark on the canal bridge was installed between 1912 and 1921. These bench marks were used in the creation of Ordnance Survey maps.