The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway

For those of us living in or visiting Pant and the surrounding area, we are lucky to have a wide range of visitor attractions within easy reach, none more so that the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway.

Locomotive getting coupled to the carriages

Originally built in 1903, the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (Rheilffordd Ysgafn y Trallwng a Llanfair) linked farmers and communities along the Banwy valley with the market town of Welshpool where they could sell their produce as well as collecting post and supplies.

It’s called a light railway due to its narrow gauge of 2ft 6ins, chosen to allow for the valley’s tight curves and steep gradient out of Welshpool.

The line closed in the 1950s but thanks to a group of railway enthusiasts it started to reopen in 1963 and now – with other restored heritage railways – is one of the Great Little Trains of Wales.

We joined a trip in early spring from Llanfair to Welshpool and back pulled by a steam locomotive.

Inside our Hungarian carriage

The journey started by boarding one of four carriages. The carriages are from Hungary and Austria due to them sharing the same gauge. Our Hungarian carriage had lovely wooden seats and the railway has handily provided cushions. It also was accessible to those who use a wheelchair.

Once past the engineering sheds, the journey takes you alongside the River Banwy, past farms and very picturesque scenery. Being early spring there were new leaves opening on the trees and bushes and newborn lambs in the fields. The embankments were starting to come alive with bluebells, primroses, cowslips and wood anemonies.

Every now and then, our attentive volunteer guard would pop by and tell us what to look out for along the way.

The trip to Welshpool takes about 45 minutes at a nice pace but, in any case, being rural mid Wales, there’s no need to rush.

Some of the level crossings are barrier controlled – as you’d see on any railway on the 21st Century network – but at another the train has to stop to let the fireman off, who then proceeds to halt any traffic with a red flag!

Once at Welshpool, we took a short walk to see some mothballed engines. If you have more time to spare then there’s the rest of Welshpool to explore or The Raven pub for lunch.

In our case, it was just a short stop before jumping aboard to head back to Llanfair, where the station café offers snacks. There are also three pubs in the village, if you prefer.

Just down from the station, there’s a small museum which includes the Cloverlands Model Car Museum, just right for car and train enthusiasts!

Find out more or book your tickets on The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway website.

Posted in Pant, Transport, Welshpool.