On Thursday 18 October the Rodwell Trail was featured on the ‘Guardian’ newspaper’s editorial page with a glowing piece by John Vallins in his regular ‘Country Diary’ feature. He described a walk along the Trail from Ferrybridge to the Wyke Tunnel, although he did title it ‘Portland, Dorset’!

“Country Diary, Portland Dorset

We started our stretch of the Rodwell Trail at the eastern end of Chesil beach – the great bank of pebbles that stretches in a straight line for 18 miles from West Bay to Portland, forming a natural barrier against the sea and separated from the mainland by a narrow lagoon known as the Fleet. We left Ferry Bridge, where the causeway across to Portland leaves the mainland, and followed the route of a disused railway line, now dedicated to walkers and cyclists, which once carried passengers, as well as stone from Portland’s quarries, along the shore to Weymouth.

One of our purposes was to be shown the flora and fauna in what is now a wildlife corridor, and we were soon intrigued by the tiny caterpillar of the cinnabar moth. Striped like a wasp with black-and-yellow hooped markings, it’s recognised by birds as dangerous, since its common food source is the toxic ragwort, on which our specimen was grazing. But the eye was often distracted by the striking wider views and curiosities close at hand, such as the site of the torpedo factory whose foundation stone bears the remarkable date of 1891.

There were fine views across the harbour to the heights of Portland, and then, up ahead, to the ruined Sandsfoot Castle, perched perilously close to the cliff edge, built by Henry VIII. Then came a sight of the distant cliffs of the spectacular stretch of Jurassic coast towards Lulworth Cove and Swanage. We went through a cutting overhung with foliage and passed other relics of the railway days, like Wyke Regis and Sandsfoot Castle Halts, Rodwell station with its two platforms, and Wyke tunnel. In what is now such a secluded, green and silent place, it was hard to imagine the bustle, smoke and clatter that must once have characterised its daily life.”

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