The line was opened by the LBSCR for goods on January 19th 1865, and for passengers on July 16th 1897. Over the winter of 1962 it was decided to close the branch line, the reason being the old timber bridge that crossed Langstone Harbour needed expensive repairs. The company could not afford the repairs and thus the line took its final fare paying customers on November 3 1963.
Many years on and the route of the Hayling Billy Line has been opened as a combined footpath, bridleway and cycleway and passes down the west side of the island. It is part of route 2 of the National Cycle Network.
Over the years I must have driven on and off Hayling Island many hundreds of times and was aware of the Hayling Billy Trail but until now had never visited.
So there we were on a very chilly Tuesday afternoon, with the sunshine coming and going, but spending most of the time hidden behind the clouds. At least it wasn’t raining. We parked up in the car park at the northern end of the trail.
As you follow the trail you can see many clues linking back to parts of the old railway . Some are a little more obvious than others. The most obvious are the remains of the old railway bridge.
As you head south down the trail to your right are the remains of the oyster beds. These are now home to many sea birds and attract many “twitchers”.
The trail is very popular and we met many folks out walking their dogs, whole family’s cycle riding and even a couple of ladies on horseback. We spent an enjoyable couple of hours strolling along taking in the scenery while the fresh air blew away the cobwebs.
After we got back to the car we headed up to the top of Portsdown Hill for a cup of tea courtesy of Mick’s Burger Bar. There we were treated to a beautiful sunset.