Swale Tourism
8th September 2022

Fifteen years ago, a Green Cluster Study said, “The alignment of the Sheppey Light Railway is potentially available for use as a future footpath/cycleway link.” It went on to describe it as “an east-west off-road greenway, with access for all, linking towns and villages from Queenborough & Rushenden to Leysdown-on-Sea. The alignment is inspired by the former Sheppey Light Railway and broadly follows the ribbon of woodland planting along the lower slopes of the hills. The route will provide opportunities for landscape enhancement and interpretation, particularly at 'hubs’. The proposal will transform the accessibility of the island and the enjoyment of its landscapes, for residents, commuters and holiday visitors alike.”

Well 15 years on, islanders still talk about the Sheppey Light Railway Greenway, but nothing has happened yet. As we look to a future with more people moving around under their own steam, by walking, wheeling and cycling, it’s time to make a concerted effort to create this transformative trail.

Sheppey Light Railway alignment on an up to date map

Much of the route is still visible on Google Map satellite imagery. But there are significant obstacles that will require diversions from the original alignment. Also, since it’s closure in 1950, most of the land the tracks were on has transferred into private ownership. So creating the Sheppey Light Railway Greenway won’t be easy.

However, restoring the Sheppey Light Railway as a greenway has so many advantages including:

  • connecting communities & homes with workplaces, schools, shops and other destinations across Sheppey, enabling islanders to consider alternatives to car travel, something that is not an attractive option today
  • celebrating Sheppey’s industrial heritage and creating a new tourism attraction, enabling people to safely and easily across the island's many attractions including the Aviation Museum, Isle of Harty, the blue flag beaches, Queenborough historic harbour, the country parks and all the towns
  • planting hedgerows as part of the restoration would create a biodiversity corridor and protect users from the winds on the exposed island
  • reconnecting the communities on the east side of Sheppey with the wider island, providing fresh opportunities.

To restore the Sheppey Light Railway as a greenway is going to take a lot of determined people, with a wide variety of skills, knowledge and experience.

If you'd like to find out more, support and help in any way, then come along to the launch of the Sheppey Light Railway Greenway Project at 7pm on Friday 30th September at Sheerness East Working Man’s Club, Halfway, ME12 3BZ.