This morning on Sheppey was awful - low cloud, mist, drizzle and general dampness oozing out of everywhere, so I chose to help the father-in-law glaze a new 10x8 greenhouse. We started in mild and drizzly weather and ended in blue skies and sunshine. So the reserve was given a miss today, there's only so much mud and water one can endure in a week. But driving past the Harty Road turn off en-route to the father-in-law's at Leysdown this morning, I was reminded of Harty Halt there and its connection to both nature reserves on Sheppey.
"Harty Halt" you might question, what was that?
Well immediately before the turn off to Harty, there is a lay-by on the left hand side of the main road. Sit in that and in front of you on either side of the road is a line of telegraph poles above a hedgerow, both of those followed the line taken by the old Sheppey Light Railway, all the way across the middle of Sheppey, between Queenborough and Leysdown. And just in front of the lay-by and to the left, was Harty Halt, the last stop before Leysdown. The railway line crossed the road there, with it's white level crossing gates, and the Halt was little more than a small hut waiting room, on a small platform, presumably serving the many farms and their workers that lived along the Harty Road.
When the railway was closed and dismantled in 1950 due to lack of use, the hut that was the Waiting Room ended up at Kingshill Farm, Elmley, home of the RSPB, where until fairly recent times, it stood alongside Kingshill Farm and housed their generator. Likewise, one of the iron railway gates in use there, was removed and taken out to what is now the Swale NNR and is still there in use today.
Can you imagine how fine that Light Railway would be today, travelling as it did through the very spine of Sheppey, how idyllic it would be for birdwatchers to get on at Queenborough and trundle along at slow speed through the marshes and meadows of rural Sheppey and end up at Leysdown seafront.