For some reason the planned trip to Longdown coincided with one of the hottest days of the year so far. It's good to be walking in the shade of trees in sunny weather and there's a nice old place here with a bit of hills and view then down into an old winding path that follows a brook, past a ruined barn and on to an old railway.
The whole area seems to be covered with the Empire of Giant Wood Ants now but up and past them and again past the lake and to the old railwaytrack itself and the inevitable 248 yards of dripping late victorian darkness that is Culver tunnel. Going back isn't really an option at this point so it's through the tunnel whatever.
Back into the light on the other side is Longdown Station, built in 1903 and still complete with platform. It closed to passengers in 1958 so the trains are long gone now. Then there is a very wet track which leads to the second and longer Perridge Tunnel, gated on this end and named after the adjacent posh family The Perridges. Perridge Tunnel (829 yards long and curving) which has collapsed somewhere two thirds of the way through possibly due to a mushroom growing business going pear shaped in 1986, actually lies on a natural fault line of some sort, earthquakes in Okehampton and all that. I have been walking here since I was about 15, it hasn't changed much.
Usually it is quiet in the woods, apart from the pheasant shooting of course, though this time when we were about three quarters of the the way through the tunnel we heard a distant engine sound which turned out to be a tractor coming up the tunnel from behind us, the sound being much more disturbing than the resulting tractor which finally appeared, with a bit of smiling and waving. An interesting acoustic situation indeed. Plenty of drinking water useful around here. I forget how much slower you have to move in the heat.
The tunnels were originally built not because of any specific geological obstacle of any sort but because the folk in the big house didn't want to be disturbed by the railway, which is some indication of the lengths gone to to please these sort of people. It's a lot of work in the dark and an awkward bloody business by the look of it.