The railway from Southcote Junction to Coley Park Goods was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1908 and closed by BR's Western Region in 1984. The total distance is just under 1¾ miles, and anyone interested in exploring the line should equip themselves with a copy of OS Explorer Map 159.

Southcote Junction can be reached by bus from Reading railway station: take route 11 and alight at the Wensley Road West stop. It is then just a short walk down a public footpath (which starts opposite the bus stop at SU 699719) towards the old railway. Proceed west along the footpath as far as the gap in the fence on the left which marks the start of the old GWR goods branch.

The trackbed loops round from the junction to head north-eastwards, raised on an embankment with two intact brick underbridges over the Holy Brook, which parallels the route. It emerges on to a garage forecourt adjacent to the A33 Reading Inner Relief Road , which was built on the former goods yard. Cross at the lights to the far side of the A33 and follow round to the north – this is the former trackbed – and under what is clearly a former railway-built overbridge. The storage warehouse just before the bridge was rail-served. Follow the footpath down behind the new houses and right round to the Kennet & Avon Canal, then turn left and under the bridge (which, again, formerly spanned the canal and sidings). On the left shortly after the bridge is a cut-through to a modern housing development (Fobney Street), a short distance along which is the sole remaining length of inset track from the old goods yard. Some of the buildings are refurbished former railway-served warehouses. You can continue down Fobney Road to Reading town centre.

Whilst somewhat overgrown in places and not suitable for cyclists, wheelchairs, prams, etc. this trackbed is passable, even in spring and summer. It is wet underfoot only in one or two places, and is is well used by locals throughout. We have not been able to determine who owns this land, but hope that it might be a local authority which will be amenable to improving the surface and formalising public access.

Report by Alan Monk