Walking Britain's Lost Railways

Somerset and Dorset

Series 1 - Episode 5 Somerset and Dorset



The route from Burnham-on-Sea to Bath was a challenge even for those clever Victorian engineers. The tracks had to cross the marshland that is the Somerset Levels (a very costly business) and then the rocky hills of the Mendips, which required the construction of four tunnels and seven viaducts. That 26-mile stretch alone cost the equivalent of £35 million today, so no wonder the company building the Somerset and Dorset line went bankrupt.

There’s an air of “lost worlds” on Rob Bell’s picturesque walk (and cycle ride), but it’s when he can match the shape of the countryside to what he sees on his map that he gets most excited.


Rob Bell revisits the decommissioned Somerset-and-Dorset line, which transformed the fortunes of local seaside towns, but proved costly to build and maintain. Rob discovers why the boggy Somerset Levels presented such challenge to lay track upon, and the expense of construction becomes even more apparent as he treks into the unforgivingly rocky Mendip Hills, where several grand viaducts had to be built. Heading through the final, most expensive and tragic part of the line, Rob explores the hastily constructed Coombe Down Tunnel.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Rob Bell
Director Adam Kaleta
Executive Producer Melanie Darlaston
Executive Producer Fintan Maguire
Series Producer Christopher Bruce
Nature History