Part of the Great Western Railway, the Strawberry Line was completed in 1869. It became an important line for passengers and freight carrying dairy produce, stone, and, of course, the famous Cheddar strawberries from which it takes its name.
The line was busy for nearly a century until it was closed in 1965. Since then the line has been reclaimed by nature and is managed to protect and enhance a rich variety of wildlife habitats from ponds and wetlands to limestone grassland and dense scrub.
Work began converting the line to a walking and cycling route in 1983 by volunteers from the Cheddar Valley Walk Society. Improvements are still being made to the route 25 years later and more exciting projects are planned for the future including extending the route. The Strawberry Line project would not be possible without the ongoing support of a variety of volunteers and organisations.
Attractions along the route
Yatton Station is a mainline station with local trains running to/from Weston-super-Mare and Bristol as well as direct trains to London. From Yatton a branch line used to head north to Clevedon and south to Cheddar. This could be used as start point for most if travelling from Weston-super-Mare as it is the easiest way to get to the Strawberry Line.
Biddle Street Site of Special Scientific Interest is drained by a network of ditches that act as 'wet fences' between the fields. These ditches and their banks are rich in wild flowers and home to dragonflies and reed and sedge warblers.
Congresbury Station was once the junction with the Wrington Vale Light Railway.
Thatchers Cider is made in Sandford from apples that are grown locally. The path passes through some of their orchards near Sandford, and you can try or buy their products at the Thatchers Farm Shop in the village. For more, see; http://www.loveweston.com/things-to-do/thatchers-cider-p1557493
Shute Shelve Tunnel takes the line through the heart of the Mendip Hills and contains several limestone formations.
Winscombe Station has been restored and you can walk a timeline along the platform which ends at the Millennium Green.
Axbridge has changed little over the centuries and visitors can still wander around the charming medieval streets and soak up hundreds of years of history.
Cheddar Reservoir was opened in 1938 and was designed to pump water from underground springs and rivers to serve the population of Bristol.
Cheddar Gorge reaches the 500 feet and the sides of the ravine boast the highest inland cliffs in the country. Cheddar Caves were inhabited by our early ancestors 40,000 years ago and Britain's oldest complete skeleton, Cheddar Man, is on display.
Find out more about the Strawberry Line at: http://www.thestrawberryline.co.uk/