|Total length||1.75 miles (2.8 km)|
|National Cycling Route||45|
|Maintained by||Worcestershire County Council|
Start at the car park and head northeast past the gazebo, which marks the centre of the old colliery yard. Head You can start the walk from either end of the railway trackbed; however, this guide will start from Stourport.
Start from the railway bridge over the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal where Longboat Lane terminates. A staircase leads up to the walk from the canal.
Walk east and you will start to notice the occasional relic from the railway’s past.
You will then arrive at what used to be the Stourport Power Station junction, the line veering off to the right is where coal trains would travel down. We detail more about this branch later.
Continue walking until you head along the viaduct over Timber Lane. The embankment is very steep, do not attempt to climb down if you want to get a decent view of the viaduct. We drove around to take the following photo.
As you continue along the railway, you will start to appreciate the sheer beauty of this walk, especially if it’s autumn. We were particularly surprised at the number of oak trees that line the route.
Your next stop is the viaduct, which carries the railway over the River Stour. This is a perfect spot for panoramic views of the Worcestershire countryside; you can see the Malverns in the distance.
There is a path down the embankment that leads onto the car park of The Rock Tavern. This is where you can get a good view of the viaduct and its red sandstone blocks.
To the right of the aqueduct is the bridge that carries the railway over Wilden Lane.
Head back up to the trackbed and continue your journey across the bridge. Can you spot the rusted warning sign? Another railway relic.
You are now approaching a vast cutting, which reveals a red sandstone face. Much of the spoil excavated from this cutting would have been used to create the railway embankment. Continue your journey and you will spot the Wilden Top Road bridge in the distance.
The north abutment has been reinforced with blue engineering brick, possibly due to erosion of the sandstone caused by water.
The next point of interest is an accommodation bridge, which most likely would have been used for farm equipment or livestock to cross the railway.
You will then reach the Charlton Lane bridge.
This point of the line is particularly beautiful as you venture through a tunnel of trees.
The line eventually halts at the A449. A path to the left leads down to the road through a gate, where you can get a view of the surviving abutments that once carried the railway.
As you turn around to head back to the start, notice the concrete fence posts with rusted wire, another railway relic.
How long does it take to walk the Leapgate Railway?
It will take you approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes to walk the railway from Stourport to the A449 and back.
Is the Leapgate Railway Walk suitable for a picnic?
There are no dedicated picnic spots; however, there are locations along the line where you could get away with one. It’s probably best to bring sandwiches and a flask of tea rather than a full-on spread.
The Rock Tavern has a delightful beer garden on the banks of the River Stour next to the wing walls of the main viaduct. The garden may not be open during the colder months.
How do I get to the Leapgate Railway?
If you plan to travel by car, it’s best to start the walk from Stourport because there is ample free street parking on Millfields Drive. Follow the public footpath signs to the trackbed above.
There are bus stops on the A451 Minster Road, before the junction with Longboat Lane, which takes you to the start of the walk. There are bus services to and from Kidderminster at these stops.
History of the Leapgate Old Railway
It’s important to note that the Leapgate Old Railway is a section of the original Severn Valley Railway line. It is referred to by its new name to avoid confusion with the heritage line that operates between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth; therefore, the history below is a summarised chronology of this particular section of the Severn Valley Railway.
1858 – Construction of the Severn Valley Railway commences, the contract is awarded to Peto, Brassey and Betts. The contract stated that the railway was to be constructed as a single line; however, cuttings and embankments were to be 30ft wide at formation level to accommodate a double track. Almost all bridges were also built to double track capacity as part of the strategy to defer additional expenses until a sufficient level of traffic justified upgrading the line to a double track.
1862 – The Railway opens with passenger services operated by the West Midland Railway starting on 1st February.
1863 – The West Midland Railway is taken over by the Great Western Railway (GWR).
1918 – Authorisation for the construction of Stourport Power Station is granted, which includes a branch railway along an embankment joining the Severn Valley Railway 440 yards (400 m) east of the Stourport Railway Station. The railway was not built when construction started on the power station.
1920 – Passenger and freight traffic starts to decline.
1927 – Stourport Power Station A opens, coal is delivered initially via the River Severn or the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.
1940 – The branch to the power station is finally completed. It crossed Mill Road, Hartlebury Road and Worcester Road on plate girder bridges . The branch would eventually handle nearly all the coal deliveries to the power station.
1941 – The Ministry of Food opened an emergency food storage depot near Stourport with a rail siding . Stourport saw many ambulance trains because the US Army had a hospital in the town .
1948 – The Severn Valley Railway is nationalised, and ownership is transferred to British Railways.
1950 – Stourport Power Station B opens .
1962 – A proposal to close the line between Shrewsbury and Bewdley is submitted, which includes the restriction of passenger services between Bewdley and Hartlebury. The Kidderminster Trades Council protests the closures .
1963 – The Severn Valley Railway is also included in the British Railway Board’s report ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’, which is commonly known as ‘The Beeching Report’ . The closures proposed the preceding year come into effect  and were most definitely backed up by data in this report. The remaining section of line was then unofficially referred to as the ‘Stourport branch’.
1970 – All remaining passenger services between Bewdley and Hartlebury on the Stourport branch are withdrawn . Coal trains for the power station continue to use the line.
1976 – Stourport Power Station A closes .
1979 – Coal trains for the power station are withdrawn as supply switches to road haulage .
1981 – The Stourport branch is finally closed entirely .
1984 – Stourport Power Station A is demolished, and B closes.
- Marshall, J. (1989) The Severn Valley Railway. Nairn: Thomas & Lochar.
- Vanns, M. A. (2017) Severn Valley Railway: Railway Heritage Guide. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Transport.
- Turley, A. J. (2005) The Railway at Kidderminster in the 1940s. Adrian & Neil Turley.
- (1950) ‘More Than Teeth Troubles Power Station closed, Belfast Telegraph, 22 November, p. 7.
- (1962) ‘Traders Council’s Closure Protest’, Birmingham Daily Post, 21 August, p. 7.
- British Railways Board (1963) The Reshaping of British Railways Part I: Report. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.
- (1963) ‘Second blow’, Birmingham Daily Post, 25 September, p. 17.
- (1969) ‘British Railways Broad London Midland Region Transport Act 1962 Public Notice’, Birmingham Daily Post, 5 December, p. 7.
- Mitchell, V. and Smith, K. (2007) Country Railway Routes, Kidderminster to Shrewsbury including Stourport-on-Severn. Haslemere: Middleton Press.
- Vanns, M. A. (1998) Severn Valley Railway. A View from the Past. Shepperton: Ian Allan Publishing.