Walk the line with trust experts

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Villagers will have the chance to find out why their former railway line is special.

The 2.5 mile Railway Walk at Great Whelnetham, along the line that once ran from Bury St Edmunds to Long Melford, is owned by the parish council.

But it has also been designated as a county wildlife site by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Its experts will be conducting guided walks along it between 10am and 2pm on Saturday April 27 from the village’s Station Hill.

Parish chairman Chris Thomson said: “I’ve walked along there with the trust’s people and its fascinating. You would have just walked past and thought ‘grass’ but they point out things to you and explain why it’s like that.”

Mr Thomson said some of the walk is in cuttings but in other places you have fine views across the countryside from embankments.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust says of the site: “Its chalky banks support a good flora; field scabious, twayblade, bee orchids and wild basil amongst other plants.

“Other areas of dense scrub provide an ideal habitat for breeding birds.

“Slow worms have been recorded here in good numbers.

“The Parish Council receives regular advice from Suffolk Wildlife Trust on sensitive and appropriate management of the site.”

The line opened in 1865 and ran from Eastgate station, which was where the A14 crosses Eastgate Street in Bury.

During World War II it carried materials for building airfields along the line, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen mother) when they visited those airfields.

It closed to passengers in 1961 and shut completely on April 19, 1965.