An intermittently Liberal anthology compiled by Jonathan Calder

Tuesday, April 13, 2004  

Rails in High Leicestershire
Though easily surpassed in height by the uplands of Derbyshire, the tract of countryside stretching away east of Leicester towards the Lincolnshire border is some of the bleakest and most remote in the Midlands.

Just beyond Leicester the landscape is one of rolling hills broken by numerous valleys where streams have carved away the soft clay, but further east a series of harder rocks form exposed summits which rise to over 700ft above sea level.

The cheerless nature of these hills is even reflected in the place names: Cold Overton, Cold Newton and Bleak Hill for example. In any case there are few settlements as most arable land was enclosed to provide sheep pasture some four centuries ago and many farming hamlets perished in the process.

When travelling through High Leicestershire one sometimes catches a glimpse of a tall viaduct spanning a distant hollow or sees a sinuous trackway threading its way across the grand panorama by a seemingly endless succession of embankments and cuttings.

Not so long ago the shrill whistle of a steam engine occasionally echoed round the valleys and a trail of white smoke marked the sluggish progress of a train through these lonely hills; today the decaying bridges and overgrown formation are all that remain of the railway which served east Leicestershire.

P. Howard Anderson Forgotten Railways: The East Midlands (1973)

posted by Jonathan Calder | 10:14 pm