The Brecon Mountain Railway: the easy way to the Brecon Beacons


 
If you want to see the Brecon Beacons, but don’t fancy hiking to get there, the steam-train The Brecon Mountain Railway is a great alternative.

The whistle blew promptly, steam hissed into the air and our train slowly began to get into its chug-chug rhythm as the 12:15 left dead on time – surely the only train to be so punctual on a British Bank Holiday Monday.


Luckily, I’d booked tickets in advance at www.breconmountainrailway.co.uk. As we arrived at the departing station, the brilliantly named ‘Pant’ just outside Merthyr Tydfil, signs told us the 12:15 and the 14:00 were sold out. We’d paid £13.50 each – about the same as a return from Coventry to Leicester – for the 90-minute trip uphill from Pant to Torpantau and back, through gorgeous mountain scenery. The company’s slogan is ‘Steam into Superb Scenery’ and I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Sitting on the left side of the train on the way out gives the best views as it trundles alongside Taf Fechan Reservoir, passing wild campers making the most of the great outdoors. The ‘Taff Trail’ hiking and cycling path runs alongside the reservoir too.


Our ears popped as we approached the highest point of the journey at Torpantau. Here, you are free to go wandering into the forests and mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park, and then catch a later train back, or you can wait fifteen minutes while the driver detaches the engine from the front carriage, turns it around and re-attaches it to the other end of the train for the return trip.


You’re allowed to stand outside the back of your carriage as it moves, so we did this on the way back to get some nice photographs, and breathe in the fresh air.


Before returning to Pant, the train stops at Pontsticill where there is a cafe, toilets and a steam museum. The 25-minute stop is just about right to enjoy the views across Taf Fechan Reservoir, with its picturesque, gothic-style valve tower. Sorry, but I can’t tell you what the steam museum was like – it wouldn’t have been my cup of tea.

How to do it

The large car park at Pant station is free. To get there, head towards Merthyr Tydfil – the postcode for SatNavs is CF48 2DD.

There are four trains a day in summer, leaving Pant at 10:30, 12:15, 14:00 and 15:45. In Spring and Autumn there is no 15:45 train, and throughout December there is a Santa Special. Check the website for timetables, and book ahead to avoid disappointment.

And remember to sit on the left on the way!

The Brecon Mountain Railway is part of ‘The Great Little Trains of Wales‘, so if you enjoy this one you might like others in places like Ffestiniog and Llanberis.

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Categories: UK and IrelandTags: , ,

26 comments

  1. Thats a mighty fine steam locomotive you travelled on, I am very envious. You have also got some quite lovely shoots of the countryside. I must confess I have avoided Wales at all costs (depressing childhood holidays) but may have to review my attitude.

  2. That is a good looking train. Rather USA don’t you think? I love those little trains of Wales!

  3. This is brilliant. Great photo at the start of the blog. Yes, it does look a bit American. I’ve been on some of the little Welsh trains, but not this one. What were the carriages like inside, was it comfy? Did they have a buffet car? I like the sound of the cycle path alongside the train as I guess you could cycle one way and take the train back. I love that you said it was probably the only British train to leave on time on a Bank Holiday!

  4. I love a train ride and this looks like a very photogenic one with fabulous views and possibly cake at the cafe?

  5. I miss train rides! and this is one very special:)

  6. Looks a super ride, especially on a sunny day. Reminded me of the Vale of Rheidol train.

  7. Nice way to spend a Bank Hol, Richard. 🙂 The roads were torture!

  8. I do love a good train journey – the Ffestiniog was great so might have to try this one next, it’s not far away either!

  9. Lovely, we passed through the area about 10 years ago, on our way back home from Wales. Would love to go back again one day, to properly visit it.

  10. How neat! They have some old New England narrow gauge stock. Tempted, very tempted, am I 🙂

  11. Looks like you had some fantastic views from this great little mountain railway. I’ve not visited there myself but hope to make it soon.

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