Every Man Needs A Shed

Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer, Agricola fanboy and jealous admirer of Carl Chudyk. www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk
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Tunnel of Love

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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Every homo sapiens needs an outbuilding within the curtelage of their property
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Way back when - in 2017 - I diverted from my usual drudgerous journey home from Cardiff in search of a hidden architectural treasure:



Tidenham Tunnel: the long, dark throat of the Wye Valley railway line now, and forever, immortalized in the eponymous Snowdonia: Deluxe Master Set scenario as three special track cards with Chepstow and one end and Tintern at the other.

Now that the Severn bridges are free to cross in a Westerly direction, I wanted to take advantage of a lovely sunny afternoon and drive through the countryside with the windows down and the cooling gust blowing through my beard. Getting through Tintern is impossible (impassable) this Summer thanks to collapsing cliffs and some much-needed road strengthening, so all traffic is diverted via Chepstow town and up the river; as the picturesque castle receded in my rear-view, I remembered this was Wye Valley line territory and snuck up the next side road in search of the splendid tunnel once more:

I found it...open!



Indeed, the whole track bed has been cleaned and cleared of saplings (and the occasional larger, sawn-off trunk pushing up the sleepers); the embankment undergrowth has been strimmed and there are bloody-great digger tracks in the churned clay:







With that miserable, black-greased panel of steel removed it would've been churlish to have not taken a little wander in to the darkness. The whole experience was lent an extra, spooky dimension by the vigorously-chilly breath exhaling from the black tube:











I wandered back up the track bed to get some distance shots when I thought I heard a tractor rumbling over the road bridge; however, it rumbled on far too long for such a small bridge and then I realised there were lights visible in the tunnel - something was coming out!


What's that coming out of the hill...is it a monster?!


A couple of workmen - one on a JCB and one on foot - emerged in to the sunlight, squinting; the driver pulled on the handbrake, switched off the engine and opened his door when he saw me taking photos from the wall. Expecting a gruff rebuke I, instead, had a lovely chat with a pair of genial Welshmen who were tasked with surveying the tunnel and had just returned from 'the other end' about a 1000m away. We talked of the plans to lift the track and ship it to the Dean Forest Railway for a line extension, of the laying of a cycle path and tunnel lights and of other similar removal jobs; I'd be surprised that there was still quite so much steel and wood paralleling its way through the countryside, I would!



It seems that this work will continue in earnest over the coming months and the driver suggested I pop back in a couple of weeks and he'd be happy to drive me in to the heart of this Abyss to get some proper pics. I'd have to provide my own hard hat, though.

Cue: a raft of 'helmet' jokes.
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