Landscape In Morpeth, Northumberland
The route of the former Wansbeck or "Wannie Line" railway line that ran from Morpeth to Reedsmouth and Rothbury.
The Wansbeck Railway, or Wannie Line, was a single track railway line in Northumberland which ran from Morpeth to Reedsmouth, where it linked into the Border Counties Railway. If you come to walk the Wannie Line you will no doubt wonder, like many before you, why would anyone build a railway in this remote location? Well, as with most things in life, the answer is money! Sir Walter Trevelyan, the owner of Wallington Hall and driving force behind the construction of the railway, saw the benefits of getting the produce from his estate to the people of Newcastle and Northumberland. The revenue generated could then be spent on his house, estate and staff.
The line was developed by the Wansbeck Railway Company with backing from the Trevelyan and Ridley families and Earl Grey himself. In 1862 the Wannie Line opened, running for 25 miles through rural Northumberland from Morpeth to Reedsmouth, carrying lime, stone, coal and livestock from the Wallington Estate, as well as passengers.
There were a number of stops along the line including at Middleton, Scots Gap and Woodburn as well as one at Rayfelt Halt which was a private platform for the use of the Parsons Estate, owned by Charles Parsons the inventor of the steam turbine that was used to power Turbinia when it achieved the mind bending speed of 34.5 knots!
On the 1st November 1870 a branch line from Scots Gap to Rothbury was opened and due its importance and bigger population, the Rothbury branch line was considered to be the main line and the line to Reedsmouth the branch.
Use of the line was steady up to the start of World War 1 even though it was only a rural branch line, cattle and mineral transportation were particularly buoyant, but following the end of WW1 its use began to dwindle. In 1948 the railways were nationalised and the Wannie Line became part of the Scottish Region of British Railways. Further reduction in use due to the advent of the motor car and closure of the line to passengers saw the inevitable happen, and in September 1952 the line all but closed. A limited good service continued for 14 more years until in October 1966 the line closed forever.
You can walk the line on a 10km circular route that starts at Scots Gap from the National Trust Regional Office car park and takes you on a trip along the embankments and past the disused lime kilns of the Wallington Estate. There is a lovely spot by the Delf Burn where you can stop for a picnic and watch the Chiffchaffs and Grey Wagtails catching flies, but do be aware that we almost got hit by an attacking Sparrowhawk that was trying to make a Wagtail its lunch! Rothley Castle is also nearby so you can make a day of it and visit both sites.
You can watch a Look North News report on the Wannie Line below, complete with the legend that is Mike Neville! Enjoy!
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There are signs within the car park directing you to the start of the walk but if you head out the northern end of the car park and walk along the rear of the National Trust Offices you will come to the start of the Wannie Line walk.
Place contributed by Andrew Gardner
I love being outdoors, in nature, and experiencing the relaxation it brings. Wandering through the northern countryside seeing unexpected buildings, historic places and occasionally surprised wildlife is one of life's great pleasures.
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