Banburyshire Rambles Photo-Journal

Paul Mobbs’ photographic record of his walks around ‘Banburyshire’ and ‘The Irondowns’, and occasionally, as part of his work around Britain, the areas beyond.

‘Last Chance (HS)To See’ – Scene 7:

‘Ridgeway Lane, North of Longhole Bridge’

One of the most beautiful cross-country routes in the Leamington area is about to be ‘re-engineered’

5th May 2018

Ridgeway Lane, running five-and-a-half miles between Hunnington Hill and Ufton, is an ancient trackway. Crossing the high ground on glacial sands and gravels, keeping the route dry (though muddy, due to its use by 4x4 vehicles), it is a nearly unbroken tree-lined lane and an important local wildlife corridor. It is a rare survivor in an area where intensive farming has progressively removed such features.

Passing Stonebridge Lane, Ridgeway Lane gradually loses height, crossing The Welsh Road and then arriving at a humped-back bridge which carries it over the broad Grand Union Canal – after which it rises once more into the village of Ufton.

The embankment taking HS2 over the valley at this point will be seven to ten metres high, and the almost 150-metre long Longhole Viaduct will rise from around 7 metres above ground level on the south side to nearly ten metres at the north. The height will not only project sound over a wider area, but the incline will also accentuate the noise from the motors of the train.

About two-and-two-third miles north of here, as you stand on the century-old space-frame girder bridge that crosses the disused Leamington and Rugby Line, the outline of Marton Junction still clearly visible roughly ten metres below, the change between the green lane from which you have just emerged, and the green lane you are about to re-enter, could not be more stark.

For me, that contrast visible at Marton Junction is what Longhole Viaduct, and the embankment that will carry HS2 across the valley and into the tunnel mouth located in the middle of Long Itchington Wood, represents – albeit with the added factor of regular noise intrusion.