The Woodham Ferrers to Maldon line was a single tracked branch line open in 1889 connecting Stow St Mary, Cold Norton, Barons Lane Halt, and Maldon West to the existing Witham to Maldon line which had opened in 1846. Although single tracked throughout from what I can tell there was a least one passing loop at Cold Norton and a siding at Barons Lane Halt. The line cannot have been very busy or profitable since the passenger service was withdrawn in September 1939 at the commencement of WW2 and the goods service ceased in April 1953. The history of Stow St Mary or Stow Maries has been well documented on other local caches. The Halt along with an adjacent 4 acre meadow form a wildlife reserve owned by the Essex Wildlife Trust. It is still just possible to make out the wooden sleepers which formed the platform just to the west of the Church Lane bridge. It is also possible to trace the path of the railway most of the way to Cold Norton and along with other footpaths it makes for a pleasant there and back again walk. There is very limited parking at Church Lane bridge but why not park in the village and take in the other local caches en-route.Please be very careful retrieving and replacing the cache to ensure subsequent cachers can find it. As always you need to bring your writing implement of choice.
From the information board:
This nature reserve consists of the former Stow Maries Halt on the disused Maldon to Woodham Ferrers railway line with an adjoining four-acre meadow. The remains of the platform are still visible and four species of fern - Wall-rue, Maidenhair Spleenwort, Black Spleenwort and Hart's-tongue grow in the mortar of the bridge. This part of the reserve grades from cutting to shallow embankment and consists largely of Hawthorn and Blackthorn scrub with occasional privet and a scattering of young Oak and Ash. The lower part of the reserve has benefited from scrub clearance and a pond has been excavated in marshy ground in its north west corner. In late spring there are many spotted orchids and a number of Adders-tongue Ferns, followed in summer by Common Fleablane (in profusion), Wild Carrot and St Johns Worts. The reserve has a good selection of butterflies including Purple and White-letter Hairstreaks and dragonflies. Glow-worms reliably put on a show in July every year, scattered throughout the reserve.