Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Riding the (Steam) Rails in Aberystwyth

I found out about the steam train trip into the Rheidol valley online, months before our trip. Since our time in Wales was going to be limited, this seemed like a good way to see some of the country.

The Vale of Rheidol narrow-gauge steam railway is a tourist train nowadays, one of several in Wales and Cornwall. Originally built around 1900 in hopes of keeping the lead mines in the valley open, the railroad also transported passengers and timber. World War I saw the closure of the lead mines, which I find interesting since surely lead was needed for bullets and other uses during the war? The railroad managed to continue in operation until World War II, when it was closed for the duration of the war, but service resumed and continued until 1989. This was the last steam railroad operated by the British Rail system and was bought in 1989 by a private charity that restored the locomotives and cars and now runs for the tourist trade. In many ways its history mirrors that of West Virginia's narrow-gauge Cass Scenic Railroad, built at the same time as the Rheidol railway and which is also now a tourist train originally built to haul timber,

Here are some photos and a couple short videos of our trip, which took about 4 hours.

Taking advantage of some free wifi before we left

The valley below us was so beautiful

Green, green, green!
At a stop along the way

It was pretty close to the edge of the cliff in many places

Old buildings, farms, livestock all along the way.
Another station on the line:

A pretty lane leading up to one of the stops

I really did not lean out of the windows--but my arm and camera did here and there.
 On the way back, the conductor spied our coffee cups. We were in the first class carriage, and guess what? No coffee allowed because of the upholstery! I was so sad that I would have to dump out my sorely needed brew, but the conductor moved us to the "Reserved" car. As we were leaving one man in our car shouted, "I'd like some fish and chips, please!" This car was just like first class but the seats were vinyl--and we had it all to ourselves, which was nice.

The offending coffee cup, in the corner. The leather strap is a pretty ingenuous window lowering/raising device. The bet has holes that slip over a knob on the door and hold the window in the desired position.
Our conductor, who was as nice as it is possible to be. He explained a lot about the train to me as we traveled along.

Finally back at the station, coal is shoveled in for the next trip.

We really enjoyed this trip. It was only the second time Larry had been on a train, except for hopping rides on slow-moving coal trains when he was a boy. The scenery was gorgeous, and the cool crisp weather a welcome relief after so many weeks of heat at home.

We still had time to do something after we got back, so we took off north to see what might be waiting there.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

The rolling green hills of mid-Wales - wonderful.

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