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Old Railway Lines in Wales - A Top Five Selection

Written by The Wales Cottage Holidays Team on

Wales is fortunate to still have rural railways such as the Cambrian Line and the Heart of Wales lines but there is still a great deal of interest in tracing the routes that closed in the 1960s.

From Builth Wells in Mid Wales, the Moat Lane Junction to Brecon line ran south-east to Erwood where the former station (off the B4567) is now a Craft Centre and Gallery with Great Western Railway carriage galleries and a restored diesel shunter.Turn off the road by the station and you can follow the lane that runs along the route of the old line; after about five miles, take the turning on the right and cross over the River Wye by the narrowest road bridge that you are likely to find anywhere!

In southern Snowdonia, the former line from Dolgellau to Barmouth is now the Mawddach Trail, a footpath and cycle track that follows the south bank of the River Mawddach. At Penmaenpool, by the George III hotel, the old signal box is now a nature observatory and information centre. The Trail finishes at Morfa Mawddach, the former junction with the Cambrian coast line and from here, you can walk over the long estuary bridge to Barmouth.

The Caernarfon to Afon Wen line in North Wales closed in 1963; the Welsh Highland Railway now uses the first three miles to the south of the town to Dinas. Continuing south, the Lon Eifion Cycleway follows the former trackbed through Llanwnda, Groeslon, Penygroes and Bryncir. Penygroes was the junction with the Nantlle Railway, which connected to the slate quarry tramways; operated by British Rail, the locomotive on this branch until 1961 was actually a horse!! The line continued to Afon Wen, the junction with the Cambrian Coast line to the east of Pwllheli.

Aberystwyth was once the terminus of a 56 mile long line to Carmarthen; trains on this line ran from a bay platform which is now used for the Vale of Rheidol Railway. It ran south-east to Tregaron and much of this route now forms a 21 mile footpath and cycle route, the Ystwyth Trail. You can join the other end of the Trail from a car park on the B4343 north-east of Tregaron on the road to Pontrhydfendigaid and follow the route through the Cors Caron Nature Reserve to the old station yard at Ystrad Meurig; the station was actually named Strata Florida after the nearby Abbey. The southern end on the line is now used by the Gwili Railway.

In Pembrokeshire, a line once ran from Johnston, south of Haverfordwest, for 4¼ miles to Neyland. It was part of the GWR main line and at the end of the 1950s, there were five through trains/carriages from Paddington with other trains from both Bristol and Swansea. In 1964 the Neyland line closed to passengers and all trains ran instead to Milford Haven and the route of the old line is now a cycle path. These and other former railway routes are featured in Wales Holidays pages on Lost Lines with information nearby cottages.

The Wales Cottage Holidays Team

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