There is a railway line near where I live (nearer than the main line) which goes to Bedford. It is not a very modern line - there isn't even electrical power, stations don't have ticket machines never mind displays never mind staff, and the trains were recently upgraded to 18-year-old stock. However, it goes to some slightly picturesque places, so my mum and I decided to walk part of the 'John Bunyan Trail' which is in the area, in October before the clocks went back.

The walk started well; I thought we were beginning from Lidlington station, Mum thought we were beginning from Ridgmont station. She was right, but I didn't see her on the platform until it was too late. Oops.

Thankfully, we both had mobile phones. But Mum didn't have a map, because she'd known I was bringing one, so I had to navigate for her as well as for me. This wasn't helped particularly by the fact that Ridgmont is the home of the giant Amazon distribution centre, and I don't think the map has been adjusted to account for it. ('Do you have the compass? Yes? Good. Which way is that road you can hear, is it west?') Did we manage to meet up? You'll have to read on to find out! Oh, the suspense!

Lidlington to the John Bunyan Trail

I started off from Lidlington and headed west, along the line of the railway, with the intent of meeting the John Bunyan Trail (and my mother) near Ridgmont. Despite being completely unplanned, this part of the walk was actually pretty nice. There was one point where a marked footpath didn't exist on the ground, but no problem, I took the next one.

Looking toward the railway at hills opposite in the haze.
1/350 at f11, 60mm, ISO100
Climbing up toward the trail, and looking back across a field toward the chimneys of Stewartby brickworks.
1/500 at f8, 60mm, ISO100
Up on the ridge, looking south toward a church spire.
1/750 at f8, 60mm, ISO100

Meanwhile, Mum was making progress from Ridgmont. She reached a lake, which meant she'd gone too far; turned back, and managed to find a way up to the higher ground.

At that point I knew we were near. I had just found some really exciting brick buildings, but she couldn't see them yet, so I continued on to where I thought she was. And she was! Woo. (Okay, not all that much suspense really.)

The Round House

We made our way back to the exciting buildings and Mum sat down to have a cup of tea while I spent far too long taking pictures of them. There was an old (nineteenth-century, so not that old - my parents' house is nineteenth-century - but still) house, marked on the map as the Round House despite being obviously rectangular. This was apparently build on the site of Rugemont Castle, and possibly gets its name from the supposed fact that you could walk right around all the rooms on its ground floor in a circle. I don't know whether that's true or not because some of the rooms didn't exist any more and the ones that did were clogged with debris.

Next to the house, another more modern brick building looked like some kind of factory or warehouse, being large and shed-like.

The Round House, looking un-round.
1/250 at f8, 60mm, ISO100
Looking into the other building. What delights awaited within?
1/90 at f8, 22mm, ISO100
This kind of delights! What a roof.
1/125 at f8, 11mm, ISO100
Inside the back extension of the Round House (the only part which still had a roof, of which this is a part).
1/30 at f4.5, 22mm, ISO400
Closer look at the Round House windows and roof supports.
1/250 at f9.5, 60mm, ISO100
The front door. Sort of.
1/90 at f6.7, 60mm, ISO100
Back in that warehouse; a wooden roof beam, with a scrap of corrugated still attached, which hung down at an odd angle and swung slightly in the wind.
1/1000 at f2.8, 60mm, ISO100
I can't get enough of that roof! You probably can, though, so no more, I promise.
1/125 at f5.6, 60mm, ISO100
A beam that went across part of the building at about shoulder-height. I'm using a black-and-white, cropped version of this as my desktop background.
1/750 at f2.8, 60mm, ISO200

With such an outstanding start to the walk, I wasn't expecting anything else of interest except pretty countryside... but I was wrong! (Yes, I'm trying the suspense thing again. No, it's not going to work any better than last time.)

Walking south

We followed the trail southward, under the railway line and through farmland to the actual village of Ridgmont, which is not very near its station.

See? Farmland. Genuine rural plastic-wrapped hay bales.
1/180 at f8, 60mm, ISO100
The wall of a house, marked by vines that had been removed.
1/750 at f8, 14mm, ISO100

Ridgmont church

A pretty (but locked) church came with a good seat in the churchyard where we ate our lunch. I'd been there before; there's an interesting water tower nearby, but we didn't detour to photograph it this time.

The church porch.
1/8 at f4, 14mm, ISO1600
A face on the south wall.
1/250 at f8, 60mm, ISO100
Light from a north window, shining through the church. And a pretty feather (which I didn't even notice until I developed the photo).
1/350 at f2.8, 60mm, ISO100
One of the very small side windows in the porch.
1/20 at f5.6, 13mm, ISO200

All Saints church

You might have thought we would be all churched out at that point, but we're made of sterner stuff, so the appearance a mile further on of a second church was a positive event - especially since it was in ruins. Not only that, but the local council owns it and officially allows you to go inside, with an open gate and everything. (This may detract from the excitement of exploring ruined things, but probably means the roof is less likely to fall in, so I'm all for it.)

Not a lot of roof to fall, in fact.
1/250 at f8, 20mm, ISO100
Nice windows though.
1/180 at f8, 22mm, ISO100
Another nice window.
1/750 at f5.6, 60mm, ISO100
Tall plant growing right on top of a wall, four metres above the nearest soil.
1/3000 at f5.6, 60mm, ISO100
Another walltop plant.
1/500 at f5.6, 60mm, ISO100

The rest

The rest of our walk led through pleasant farmland to an equally pleasant forest, which contained within it a 'proving ground' - some kind of car-testing circuit. We saw a couple of military-looking lorries driving around it. Then we arrived in Lidlington and got a quick drink in the pub before the train back.

Farmland. I think we got our boots muddy walking across this (yes, there's a right of way, so we weren't spoiling all those neat furrows).
1/90 at f8, 60mm, ISO100

Overall it was a really nice walk with not one but two surprising features. Pretty impressive.

This walk had basically been a semicircle south from the two stations - so for our next, we decided to do an equivalent semicircle north. But that's a story which will have to wait for another day. (Still not working, the suspense thing? Oh well.)

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.