The railway viaduct over the River Trent at Torksey has been closed for decades, cutting off the residents of Torksey (Lincs) from their neighbours on the Nottinghamshire side of the river. The only ways into Nottinghamshire involved travel of around 10 miles in either direction to the nearest crossing points. But that all changed on Friday 22nd April when the viaduct reopened, allowing people to walk from one side to the other. A moment celebrated by the handing over of an oak sapling by children from a local Notts school to children from the school at Torksey.
Walkers approaching the viaduct along the Trent Valley Way
The Ramblers had been invited to go along to the opening ceremony and were represented by the Chair, Vice-chair and Area Secretary. Rod and Jenny took along some leaflets and display materials and were able to talk to quite a lot of the people that turned out, including several Ramblers members from Gainsborough Group and members from the Lincolnshire Area Groups. The Notts Guided Walks Partnership was also invited but was unable to display its materials due to their representatives getting stuck on a muddy lane on the wrong side of the river. The list of dignitaries was impressive with parish, district and county councillors present along with senior members of Sustrans and the various funding agencies and bodies.
The journey to getting the viaduct reopened started around 20 years ago when Sustrans took ownership of the derelict structure. Since then, they have steadfastly worked to put the funding and agreements in place to get the viaduct made safe and a new decking put down that can accommodate cyclists and walkers. At the moment, the viaduct is open only to walkers, as the paths on the Nottinghamshire side are footpaths that are accessed from the viaduct by a staggered set of steps and, therefore, not available to cyclists: though a bold Sustrans spokesperson did announce to the crowd that opening the viaduct was the first step of a plan to get all footpaths on the Nottinghamshire side converted to cycleways in order to link up with other cycle routes.
The day was bright and sunny, encouraging many of the local people to come along to the opening and swell the numbers to around 200 people. After the speeches and the unveiling of a plaque on the viaduct wall came the handing over of the oak tree sapling. Then, the assembled throng were invited by a spokesperson to go on a led walk of 4Km on the Nottinghamshire side of the River Trent, which included a short section of the Trent Valley Way, to, “see for yourselves some of the paths that we want to improve in phase two of this project”. (I'll leave the reader to determine how you “improve” a pleasant walk along a grassed embankment).
Around 40 people undertook the walk which was led by the Ramblers Area Chair and back-marked by a member of Sustrans. On the way around, there was a chance to talk and many of the walkers said that it was the first time that they had walked on that side of the River. They all seemed delighted at the chance to have a pleasant stroll alongside the river; though some were distinctly nervous at the idea that the paths might be covered with tarmac. At the end of the walk, I asked the Sustrans back-marker whether he'd enjoyed the walk. He said that he had and that he was surprised by the conversations he had been having with people as he'd walked along. He had, apparently, learned one or two bits of gossip about people in Torksey as well as a little of the history. It's surprising what you can find out when life moves a little slower!
The day ended at the local Hume Arms, where there was another speech and the cutting of a cake to mark the occasion.
Photos taken on the day can be seen on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nottsarearamblers
Notts Area Chair