BETTISFIELD TO FENN'S BANK
 
Above: A group of club members beneath the overbridge at the east end of Bettisfield station. The line was single track, although there were passing loops at both Bettisfield and Fenn's Bank, the next station to the east. Unusually, both stations had only a single platform but with two lines that were signalled bi-directionally; the Bettisfield loop could be – and was – used by passenger trains not scheduled to call at the station to cross a 'stopper'. 27th June 2009. (Chris Parker)

Bettisfield to Fenn's Bank on the Cambrian Railways' former line from Whitchurch to Ellesmere and Oswestry is a railway path that springs to mind for only a very select few – no one else seems to know of it! The club's Welsh Area Organiser is one of the cognoscenti, and here recalls a 2009 walk over the line.

The old line between Bettisfield and Fenn's Bank in Wrexham County Borough is indeed a footpath and I led a joint RR/WRRC walk along it on 27th June 2009. Access is readily available from the overbridge at the east end of the former Bettisfield station (the old goods yard entrance) at grid reference SJ 461358. It has (or certainly had) a firm surface and is the only vehicular route to Cambrian Cottage. Beyond there, it enters the nature reserve but remains clear and in good condition; although not marked as a public right of way on the OS map, a number of waymarked paths lead to it and in practice we found it to be a well used and maintained route acting as a link to the various parts of the Fenns Moss nature reserve. We met other walkers while using it, and it was gated at two or three points with indications that it is used by vehicles in connection with conservation and maintenance work. The [Nature Reserve] leaflet suggests that little has changed and states that disabled visitors can drive along the trackbed by prior arrangement, presumably in their mobility scooters. The trail also provides access to the 'Fenns Old Works' former peat processing works, which used to have a private railway siding and is now a listed structure. Access to the trackbed from the main road at the east end of the reserve (as the OS map indicates) is by public rights of way, some of which are fit for vehicles (there is also a visitor centre in that area). On our walk, we followed other rights of way further to the south to avoid a derelict former brick and tile works to regain the trackbed at Fenn's Bank station. I don't think that the countryside bodies would wish to develop this on a large scale given the sensitive nature of the site - it is in the process of recovering from decades of peat extraction.

Report by Chris Parker
16th January 2017