During the last 18-months most train lines have been quiet. But here in the Welsh Borders, they were never that busy in the first place, not when compared with the 06.32 from Surbiton to Waterloo on a Monday morning, for example.
The main Manchester to Cardiff line runs along the English/Welsh borders, actually offering us good connections to the capital city of Wales and one of the North West’s biggest cities. It means I can get to the capital of Wales and even the capital of Scotland (only one change required at Crewe) much more easily than I can get to London.
But there’s also another line here, the Heart of Wales line, a single track affair that meanders sleepily through the Welsh Marches and down to Swansea on the South Wales coast.
A few days ago, I used this line to do a walk for Country Walking magazine (it won’t appear until Spring 2022), but it reminded me of just how isolating some of the stations are on this wonderful railway line.
I began by catching the train at Knighton, whose claim to fame is that the town’s station is in England, yet the town itself is across the border in Wales. There can’t be that many places where the train station is in a different country.
Because this is the Heart of Wales line, only single track, and linking Shrewsbury to Swansea, it’s served by only four trains a day. Or, perhaps I should say, four carriages a day. 😝
The Heart of Wales line is one of the most picturesque routes in the country – and it’s gorgeous! So gorgeous, in fact, that I forgot to take any photos out of the window! Never mind.
Still, when you do look out of the window, you will see the sign officially informing you of when you’ve crossed the border into Wales.
I only travelled two stops, about 13 minutes, but that included travelling across the impressive Knucklas Viaduct, a grand crenelated affair typical of the Victorians.
Here’s a photo I took of the viaduct, when walking a section of Offa’s Dyke, near Knighton.
I alighted at a small station called Llangynllo, which is in the middle of nowhere. Literally. When I say there are places that are isolated in the Welsh Borders, I mean isolated.
Unsurprisingly, I was the only one to get off at Llangynllo.
So, where is Llangynllo? Well, when you step out of the station, you’re greeted by this …
That’s right. Llangynllo station is not at Llangynllo. First of all, you need to follow this lane …
… and then if you take the Glyndwr’s Way long distance trail, you can cut across the fields until you reach …
… more fields, and then, eventually …
… the road to Llangynllo!
Llangynllo is, like many villages around here, quiet at times. (This was about 11.30am, so well after the morning rush hour, and still a while before the lunchtime rush.)
My route back to Knighton followed Glyndwr’s Way all the way, and on that six-mile journey I passed only one other person. Yes. That’s right. One. One solitary walker. That’s how busy it can be round here.
I’ll let my photos and videos do more of the talking …
As you can see, this part of the Welsh Borders is quiet. Which is why, whenever I’m out and about exploring these isolated places, my creative mind wanders, as I ask myself, “If I need to bury a dead body in my next cosy crime novel, this would be the perfect place to do it!” (It’s okay. All writers have thoughts like this. Honest!)
If you fancy a break in the wilds of the Welsh Borders, do check out the Visit Knighton website. It has lots of information about where to stay and where to eat and drink. (Warning, if you’re used to the large glossy supermarkets of the south east, you might find the Co-op at Knighton ‘interesting’. It hides behind the petrol station. Just walk through the petrol station kiosk, and you’ll stumble across an Alladin’s cave. Well, the Co-op. But it makes Dr Who’s Tardis feel quite ‘compact’. 😁)