• John Oyston

Vale of Rheidol Railway – Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge

The Vale of Rheidol line runs for nearly 12 miles from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge, in the heart of Mid Wales.


The station at Aberystwyth is next to the mainline station, links with the scenic Cambrian Coast Line that runs from Pwllheli to Shrewsbury; where connections to the rest of the national network are available.


A Scenic Run to Devil’s Bridge


The journey takes about an hour and the line climbs over 600 feet from the seaside resort of Aberystwyth to the terminus at Devil’s Bridge.


Enjoy the superb views as the line follows the south bank of the River Rheidol. Facilities at Devil’s Bridge include a cafe and a picnic area. Mynach Falls, Jacob’s Ladder and The Devil’s Punchbowl are all a short walk from Devil’s Bridge station.


Each train stands at Devil’s Bridge for about an hour but return tickets allow journeys to be made on any train on the same day.


Vale of Rheidol Railway Photo Tony Symonds CC-BY-3.0
Vale of Rheidol Railway Photo Tony Symonds CC-BY-3.0

The line dates back to 1902, and initially carried timber and served the local lead mines, as well as carrying passenger traffic.


The hostile terrain made building a standard gauge line virtually impossible. Instead, a gauge of 1 foot 11¾ inches (603 mm) was chosen to help cope with the sharp curves and steep gradients along the valley.


Including Aberystwyth and Devil’s Bridge there is a total of nine stations along the route. All trains stop at Capel Bangor and Aberffrwd but stopping at the smaller intermediate stations is by request.


Trains are pulled by one of a fleet of just three steam engines built by the Great Western Works at Swindon between the two World Wars .


The names of the engines Owain Glyndwr, Llewellyn and Prince of Wales reflect the Welsh heritage of the line and these are supported by a small diesel engine that performs shunting duties and hauls the occasional works train.


The line was the last steam railway owned and run by British Rail until privatisation in 1989.


Since then, the new private owners have made numerous improvements , including rebuilding locomotives and carriages and renewing the track.


Trains run on most days between April and October, usually there are two trains a day in each direction. This rises to a peak service of four trains a day.


Up to date details of services can be obtained from the Vale of Rheidol Railway website.


Cwm Rheidol Photo R Haworth CC-BY-2.0
Cwm Rheidol Photo R Haworth CC-BY-2.0

Getting to Aberystwyth


Aberystwyth station is in the town centre and the railway has its own car park next to the station. Aberystwyth is reached by the A44 from Shrewsbury or the A487 Cambrian Coast route.


The Vale of Rheidol is just one of many narrow gauge railways in Wales. Ten of them collectively brand themselves the Great Little Trains of Wales and provide unique views of the Welsh countryside from Snowdonia to the Brecon Beacons.

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