A narrow-gauge train trip in Mid Wales

Aberystwyth, Wales — Caroline Palmer provided Tim and me a wonderful experience in a scenic Welsh valley on a perfect Welsh day. She is Trustee of the nearby Hafod Estate ( … one of the finest examples in Europe of a Picturesque landscape.”) This estate is one of the places where pine martens have been re-introduced to Wales from Scotland. In that office she received three tickets (and lunches) for us to take a ride on one of the “Great Little Trains of Wales” to a celebration of a new train carriage and a Pine Marten center. It was delightful for both the natural views and the people involved.

We took the Vale of Rheidol Railway with this coal-fired steam engine pulling our narrow-gauge carriages. We sat in the open car directly behind the engine, so I could watch the crew in action and feel the occasional cool droplets condensed from the steam (and a whiff or two of coal smoke).

This was our route from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge. (Map from Wikipedia.)

A view from the train traveling up the Vale of Rheidol. Very green and steep.

This valley has numerous silver and lead mines from the early 20th century and before, leaving scattered tailings piles like this one, along with significant heavy-metals pollution in some places.

We were greeted in Devil’s Bridge by the Mynach Community School Choir singing Welsh songs. They were fun. I felt the red-headed boy’s discomfort, though!

We ended the delightful day with a quick visit to the 13th century Aberystwyth Castle, a remnant of which was brilliantly lit by the setting sun.

About Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a Professor of Geology at The College of Wooster. He specializes in invertebrate paleontology, carbonate sedimentology, and stratigraphy. He also is an expert on pseudoscience, especially creationism.
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