Telford to Ironbridge – along old lines

Monday: We’ve taken the bus to Telford town centre, and we’re walking back. For roughly half the distance (just over 6 miles in total) we’re on, or close to, the Silkin Way, which follows the track of the old Coalport railway. In places, its predecessor, the canal, is also still in water. We leave the trackbed of necessity – there’s a gap, where it used to cross the railway to Ironbridge power station – both now out of use. From this point (near to the old windmill), we’re roughly parallel to the Ironbridge line, and as we descend from Lightmoor, we join the track of an older way – one of the many pre-railway age tramways that ran in these parts. Arriving in Ironbridge, there’s time for tea and cake…

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New town park

Monday – a walk into Telford Town Park. We started from the southernmost tip, close by the aqueduct, to walk nearly two miles mostly along and beside the old Coalport railway trackbed to the town centre. The paths are well made (there was a lot of rain on Saturday…), many and varied – quite a maze as we near the offices, shops and restaurants. The railway followed the route of an old canal, still evident in places, providing a pleasant and varied landscape in the “wild” park. It’s much tamer close by the town centre, and there are many more people. It’s good to turn and head back past the tall Stirchley chimney to the relative quiet of the railway cutting, a long cool hollow on this warm afternoon.

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The Aqueduct

A district of Telford is named after the c1792 sandstone bridge built to carry the western branch of the Shropshire Canal over the turnpike road. Both are long redundant, but their courses remain. Though we’d driven through the area very many times, we’d never sought out the structure – perhaps we ought to go and have a look? Sadly, it’s in need of renovation, and much of it is hidden behind corrugated steel sheets. We walked there from the “coke hearth” at the top of Coalbrookdale, along the trackbed of a pre-railway age tramway, with beside us the railway which still carries fuel to the power station. We left this route where it was once crossed by the Coalport branch line, following the latter a short way to the aqueduct. Now our route would follow, on and off, the canal – to a point where it was crossed by a wagonway – another ancient bridge with a plaque to confirm the fact, though its construction date seems to be unknown. Whatever its age, it made an excellent spot to shelter from a sudden sharp flurry of snow… We returned to the car along rough lanes before descending once again to the wagonway beside the railway. Most of our walk had been on, or beside, ancient transport routes, mostly unseen and unknown by today’s road users.

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