Friday, 10th October, 2014.

Memories and Musings

     Today, in a heavy rain-shower, our dog Bess walked me a little way along part of the Ystwyth Trail.   It’s called that, even though this stretch follows the Teifi Valley.   Our stroll was near Maesllyn, the pool under which the original and wicked town of Tregaron lies drowned.

The long-distance footpath follows the route of the old railway-line which ran from Aberystwyth to Carmarthen – until 1965, when it was struck by the awful Beeching Axe.

That old line change life in old Cardiganshire for ever.   It changed communities, it changed commerce.   It’s said that, since it was opened in about 1865, the county first began to enter “modern times”.   That was a very important hundred years, then.

Some would say that is it a bleak and lonely trail as it passes along the Eastern fringe of Cors Caron, the Great Tregaron Bog.   I don’t find it so.   Though it is, for me, very atmospheric.

Each time I stroll along any part of it, I think of the great days of steam, when a hardy crew of driver and fireman would take their engines – Kings and Castles as well as tankies – the whole distance, pulling coaches or trucks or both.   I recall the gangers, too, who keep the line safe and open, working in all weathers with picks and shovels.

Those men must all have thought that the Steam Age would never end.   Sadly, perhaps, by the time the line was closed, “growlers” were taking over the whole railway system:  diesel-engines with no personality like the old steamers had.   No lad would ever collect engine-numbers again.

And, even before the line closed, road-transport was becoming the thing of the day.

I saw steamers going along that line, and I thank the men who kept the line open and the steam-engines running.   They provided me with many interesting memories.

kjs,  Friday, 10th October 2014

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