Beeching’s Blunder

by Jem Croucher

 

Later on tonight
With a beer to boot
We brothers meet
To plan a route

Another walking
Week in May
Just over twelve miles
For each day

Along where once
Steam engines sped
But Beeching in
his blunder shed

A footpath where
Once tracks they lay
Now known as
Downslink Bridleway

Following a report written by Dr Richard Beeching in 1965, around 5000 miles and 2,363 stations of branchline railway in the UK were axed. A way of life ended and the lifeline to hundreds of villages was cut off forever. All in the name of progress. Now, over 40 years later, many of the axed line routes have since reopened as footpaths and bridleways. The Downslink is a 37 mile footpath and bridleway linking the North Downs Way in Surrey with the South Downs Way in Sussex. My brother and I plan to walk its length in chunks over a week in May. Fortunately there are many pubs along its route.

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