Monday, 10 February 2014

Midford - Somerset Coal Canal

Midford Area
Somerset Coal Canal
February 2014

The Midford area is bristling with interesting canal remains and for the sake of continuity I will cover then from the upstream end, starting with the canal as it emerges from beneath the railway embankment.

Canal bed emerging from embankment at Midford

The canal bed is spanned by a complete stone bridge, just beside a working farm. To the best of my knowledge this is the only complete stand alone hump backed bridge on the canal and whilst bridges are hardy exceptional items on most canals, its rarity on on this line means it deserves a few photos.

Hump Backed Bridge at Midford

The canal bed is clear as it crosses the meadows and you soon reach the aqueduct to the old Radstock Arm - a route which was never fully completed, had little regular business and was quickly replaced a railway on the towpath.

All you can see of the Midford Aqueduct from the towpath

But for all that the aqueduct is an impressive structure, with a bulky grace which has more in common with the Dundas Aqueduct a couple of miles to the north than its spiritual brother at Dunkerton, which is a much more clunky utilitarian affair.

Across the aqueduct to the basins.

In the end the aqueduct merely led to some transhipment basin where loads were hauled up a tramway to the canal above. All in all something of a white elephant but one which has been lovingly restored in recent years.

Now here is the thing. Its a great aqueduct and had loads of money spent on it, but the only people who can get close for a good look is the farm. The surrounding meadows and tightly lined with barbed wire topped with crackling electric fences. The whole thing was as tight as a drum and with the farm overlooking the fields I wasn't about to risk my manhood in my quest for a decent photo.

The canal track then continues along the edge of the meadow and under the railway bridge in a space now occupied by a garden. 

Map of Midford section as shown on the SCC Society website.

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