Old Warden Tunnel - Bedfordshire, UK
Posted by: Dragontree
N 52° 05.452 W 000° 22.687
30U E 679613 N 5774388
Quick Description: This old railway tunnel was part of the old Bedford to Hitchin line.
Location: Eastern England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 1/12/2008 11:44:41 AM
Waymark Code: WM2YR7
Long Description: Bedford to Hitchin Railway
has a website here. The cutting and tunnel were built to take the London, Midland and Southern Railway's main line through this area of countryside. The line was opened in 1857 and closed in 1964.
The site above the tunnel is now a Nature Reserve belonging to the Wildlife Trust since 1973 and is open to visitors. There are some good views of the Cardington Hangars, where the early airships including the R100 and R101 were built; the latter left from here on its fatal trip to France There is a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside from this high point of Bedfordshire. In 1964 'Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines' was filmed here.
The tunnel itself is half blocked off with a wall of breeze blocks but there is a hole above for bats to fly in and out as they use the tunnel for roosting in and a small access hole in the wall itself. Being half a mile long the other end is visible through the tunnel but is somewhat more concealed. Access down to the railway from the Nature Reserve follows a stepped path, some of the steps can be steep and slippery, so be careful. From the top the view along the old railway line is worth a visit in itself.
Personally both Male and Female Dragontree have had experiences of this railway and it has some very fond memories. Male Dragontree travelled along the line in a steam train whilst the railway was open and running. After joining up as a RAF National Serviceman he travelled from the station a mile up the track at Cardington enroute to square bashing at Royal Airforce West Kirby on the Wirral. Female Dragontree came here regularly before the tunnel was blocked up as part of Sunday School sing-song adventures in the mid 1980s as a 5-7 year old.