Tuesday, 30 July 2019

The Heart of Wales Line

23rd July 2019

The rail trip from Swansea to Shrewsbury via what is now known (and promoted) as The Heart Of Wales Line is high on any list of scenic railway journeys in the UK. Technically The Heart of Wales runs between Llanelli and Craven Arms but the trains run from Swansea to Shrewsbury which are more convenient start and finish points.

So I was up early on what was already a warm morning and forecast to be a hot day in time to check out of the hotel and find some breakfast before going to Swansea station ready to catch the 0934 departure for Shrewsbury. I was on an Advance Standard Single so trading cost against flexibility, which meant valid only on this train and no hopping on and off at intermediate stations alas.

If travelling from the Swansea end you'll want to get a seat by the window and facing "the wrong way" as the train reverses at Llanelli so you'll be facing "the right way" for the most scenic part of the trip.

There were quite a few other passengers aboard when we left Swansea and a lot more joined at Llanelli so bagging a decent seat was a must. Given the forecast temperatures I went for what I hoped would be the more shaded side of the train too - starboard to start which became port after the train reversed at Llanelli. Also took plenty of drinking water, this isn't a service run with modern air-conditioned rolling stock - our train was a two car Class 150 Sprinter. It did have free WiFi though, however this resolutely refuse to allocate me an IP address and eventually gave up the ghost altogether. It may have been due to the heat but the train electrical system did appear to be quite unwell resulting in no interior lights (cue ghost train screams in the tunnel sections) and a khazi door with a mind of its own 🙄

Anyway, the scenery, yes it's worth the trip.

Sugar Loaf Station. Sadly no one requested to stop at this most remote of stations and I was distracted so didn't manage to get a picture ☹️

This one is taken from the top of Cynghordy Viaduct though, which is quite a view.

At Builth Road there was quite an exodus of passengers and from there on we gained and lost quite a few as locals as well as tourists make use of this line.

The scenery continued to be worth the trip.

We gained a couple of well laden cyclists for a while who were so keen they almost got off one stop before they were supposed to (too many stations with names beginning Llan ?) and then stood by the door for the next several miles.

Most of the stations, even the smaller ones, appeared to be well looked after especially those under the care of community groups.

Still more scenery.

Between Knucklas and Knighton we crossed the border into England and lost the "Llans" and the terrain became more rolling than hilly.

Around Craven Arms there were more industrial buildings and eventually we crossed the River Severn into Shrewsbury Station.

My word it was hot in Shrewsbury town centre!

I found a cafe in the shopping centre and had a much needed cup of tea ⛾
then checked into the Premier Inn and turned the air-con down ❄

The Heart of Wales is definitely one to tick off the scenic railway must do list and will quite possibly get a revisit at some point, hopefully with some more time available to explore.

More photos from the Heart of Wales (and a bit of England too):

Heart Of Wales Line

No comments: