20110130_Disused Rugby – Leamington Railway – Lias Line – Sustrans 41

20110130_Disused Rugby – Leamington Railway – Lias Line – Sustrans 41

When : 30th January 2011

Who : Just Me

Where : Warwickshire to the south-west of Rugby

Maps : OS 1:25000 Explorer Map No. 222, Rugby & Daventry ….. Grid Ref. : 431,691 to 448,707

Summary : Some info about the old Lias Line touched on during a circular walk including Frankton, Birdingbury Bridge, Draycote Village, Bourton-On-Dunsmore and return to Frankton. 

This is an addendum to my walks diary as there was quite a lot of extra info available on path side information boards and the following is a re-writing of the info … it’s easier than trying to read my photo’s …. of course it be even better to get out there and actually get a feel for the area and make use of the line either on either foot or bike. 

I’m sure the info’ board sponsors of Warwickshire County Council, Rugby Borough Council and Sustrans will have no objection to me regurgitating their efforts, the info’ boards are in the public domain after all. 


Info board @ Grid Ref. 431,691

Lias Line Cycleway

National Cycle Network Route 41. Rugby – Warwick Section.


The Lias Line is named after the underlying geology of lower lias clays and limestone laid down in the Jurassic Period (206-144 million years ago). Since the early 1800s this lower lias has been quarried extensively for clay and limestone. Ordnance Survey maps of the 1890’s show a number of “Lime Works” dotted around this area. The area was therefore much more industrial than it is today.

Nearby you can see a private dwelling that used to be the former Birdingbury station. If you compare the image based on the 1950’s below with the modern dwelling, the form of the old station is still clearly discernable. The former station platforms can still be seen clearly although they are now very overgrown. The station was opened in March 1851 and served rail passenger traffic between Rugby and Leamington until 1959. Quarried materials transportation continued until 1985 after which the line was closed having provided 134 years of service. 

Fossil evidence shows that 250 million years ago tree-like ferns dominated the local landscape. Two species of their descendants can now be found growing on the walls of the remnant platforms. It is worth noting how little vegetation there was in the 1950’s. 

The trees and shrubs you see along the path include naturally generated hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, ash and birch together with some planted alder and poplar. Ragwort is a native plant that naturally occurs on the bare areas. Although toxic to livestock and horses if eaten in large quantities, it is a vital host to the black and yellow caterpillars of the cinnabar moth. 



Info board @ Grid Ref. 448,707

Lias Line Cycleway

National Cycle Network Route 41. Rugby – Warwick Section.


You are standing on the disused Leamington to Rugby railway line. This line was opened in March 1851 as a single track line. Birdingbury and Marton were the initial intermediate stations opening with the line and provided both passenger and quarried materials transport services from the outset. A second track was laid in 1882 to accommodate increasing commercial traffic. In 1959 the line was closed to passenger services, and finally closed to commercial services in 1985, having provided 134 years of service. 

If you were standing on this land 200 million tears ago you’d be in the middle of a warm, muddy sea near the equator. Following intermittent hot and dry spells spanning millions of years and northwards continental drift, the ground beneath you turned into a multilayered sandwich of Jurassic clay and limestone that geologists call lower lias. Since the early 1800s this lower lias has been quarried extensively for clay and limestone. When in operation this line played its part in transporting these quarried materials to make cement. 

Since the line was closed, vegetation has taken over. The trees and shrubs are naturally generated hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, ash and birch and there is some planted alder and poplar. In places wild rose and blackberry push their way through the shrubbery. There is a thriving eco system of mammals, birds and insects. At points along this route you will see open grassland, meadows, wetland and evidence of mediaeval agriculture all supporting their particular kind of wildlife. 


And some general info on Sustrans and the National Cycle Network 

Sustrans is the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity, working on practical projects so people can choose to travel in ways that benefit their heath and the environment. The charity is behind many groundbreaking projects including the National Cycle Network, over 12,000 miles of traffic-free, quiet lanes and on-road walking and cycle routes around the UK. We are the charity making a difference today so everyone can live better tomorrow. 

You are standing on a path that was constructed by Sustrans and opened in 2004. The path was created to benefit pedestrians and cyclists. It was funded by a landfill tax grant and Warwickshire County Council. 

Support Sustrans. Join the movement. For information on the National Cycle Network, to buy maps and guides, or to become a Sustrans Supporter visit or call www.sustrans.org.uk  0845 113 0065


 And finally, a little more info’ from me ….

The Sustrans route 41 leaves the old Lias Line at grid ref. 448,707 to head off around Draycote Water and thence into Rugby. However the railway heading north-east from here is proposed to become part of the National Cycleway, passing under the A45, through the old Dunchurch Station to join the cycleway already created alongside the new A4071 Rugby Western Relief Road at its southern end at Potford’s Dam. At the same time it would also become part of a new nature reserve project just started-up by volunteers last year (2010) called Cawston Greenway. Roughly speaking, this will stretch from Potford’s Dam through to Lawford Lane/Bilton Lane alongside the new Cawston Grange Housing Estate on the outskirts of Rugby. 

The old railway between Draycote and Potford’s Dam is walkable already, but needs some work to bring it up to scratch, in particular the area under the A45 is pretty grotty. Also, very close by, the old Dunchurch station is almost always very wet underfoot …. but it is passable, especially with waterproof boots. 




I hope you enjoyed both Sustrans information and my scribblings ….

Oh, and one last thing; the links in the text above are what I’ve found on the internet, not noted on the “blurb” on the info’ boards, just stuff I’ve found, so can’t vouch for anything on the other sites but they do seem genuine and as far as I know accurate. I’ve no reason to distrust the info’.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

Associated posts : Frankton Circular Walk … and … Draycote Meadows Info’


5 thoughts on “20110130_Disused Rugby – Leamington Railway – Lias Line – Sustrans 41

  1. Sustrans are going to start work on the section from Potford’s Dam to Draycote village soon, and I think they are going to work on the railway from the Fosse Way, where they will build a new bridge to connect the railway line with the Offchurch Greenway, right the way through. This will mean walkers and cyclists will no longer have to take the country roads detour near Birdingbury.

  2. Thanks for the comment and the wordpress “like” Paul … good news about Sustrans pushing through under the A45 and up to Potford’s Dam. I guess they’ll be planning to put a ramp of some kind to join the cycle way alongside the RWRR … hope so cause that’ll be great for all us walkers as well.

  3. Yes, you are right. There is a bit just up from Potford’s Dam where embankment is turning into cutting and there is already a gate on the WRR cycle path to allow the farmer access to his fields, which are quite narrow at this point. Sustrans plan to use this as the link because it is a really cheap solution to linking the two paths.

    This means that the greenway will become part a good circular walk starting and finishing at The Bear!!

  4. Any ideas on when all these works will be done as last time I was up by there a45 it was flooded and containe oil not very pleasant to ride or walk through a u can well Imagine

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