I have to confess that I did not ride my bike all the way from Ryde to
After my trips along the other lines earlier in the day I rather fancied a bit of rest and so it seemed like a very good idea to take a trip on the preserved steam railway forming the first part of the originally closed line. This is a really enjoyable trip behind examples of the small steam locomotives that provided the motive power and in the old vintage coaches that lasted right until the end.
Smallbrook Junction is a rather odd place, being a railway interchange of sorts, between the London Underground trains on the Ryde to Shanklin line and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. The trains seem to wait patiently for each other, maintaining the sense of a proper service. Indeed there have been suggestions that the remaining network might end up being operated by the enthusiasts and the existing steam railway extended into
The train journey from Smallbrook Junction to
A little further on is Havenstreet which is now the headquarters of the line and a far cry from the original wayside halt that was once all that served the local community. Now there are engine and carriage sheds as well as all the visitor facilities you might expect at a preserved railway. Eventually I got to Wootton which is not the original station (closed in 1953), but the present end of the line where it is blocked by a local road. This is where I started cycling.
The road bridge which once existed at this spot is long gone, being filled in many years ago. This means that cyclists get a good head start on the journey to
The line continued downhill alongside a fairly hefty looking pipeline until the official route suddenly bore right. I noticed that the onward path continued although wasn’t a cycle route so I decided to see how far it would go (this is as it happens a public footpath, so no worries about trespassing). I soon became aware of a platform to one side of me and was surprised that this was a station that I hadn’t known had existed before. The station house was still intact and used as a house (although quite well concealed from nosy cameras!).It turned out this station was Whippingham and was apparently built for Queen
The path along the old line soon deteriorated to the point where cycling was quite difficult. Just as I was thinking that I might yet make it all the way to
There isn’t much left of the onward trackbed through
The line to
The first engineering feature of the line is not far from
As I headed towards
The path eventually winds up at the edge of a housing estate on the edge of
In terms of a through route this is a bitty section, although I would definitely recommend a ride on the steam railway as an authentic experience of what rail travel on the island must have once been like. The section from