Saturday, 2 July 2011

Gem bridge - concrete supports taking shape, but Grenofen tunnel lags behind

Earlier today I had a chance to have a look at what progress has been made at Gem bridge, over the Walkham valley and on the same spot as Brunel's original Grenofen viaduct.

Actually I didn't go there just to see what progress had been made - this time I wanted to go and have a look at the Grenofen tunnel. When travelling towards Tavistock, after having crossed the Walkham valley, you still face several uphills. The first of those is steep and long and certainly not a family-friendly route.

Devon County Council plans on re-routing Drake's Trail through the Grenofen tunnel, and further along the course of the old railway. To this end, Devon CC purchased the tunnel from a landowner, despite having a policy of not owning any tunnels. To get back in line with their policy, they sold the tunnel on to Sustrans for the princely sum of £1-00.

Following the old railway route will cut out many uphills and would vastly improve Drake's Trail.

Sadly, I fear it will be quite some time before this part of the route opens, based on what I saw today. There are surveying markers, but apparently these have been there for a long time and there was no sign of recent activity.

Here are some pics:

Looking towards Tavistock from the tunnel entrance

This is how overgrown the Plymouth side is.

A surveying marker
Grenofen tunnel as seen from the Tavistock side