Ferryside station signAnother trip on a train with a difference.  This was to be the first ‘request stop’ on the challenge of visiting stations starting with all the letters of the alphabet.  I’m always somehow been fascinated by the trains on this route.  They start off in the large city of Manchester, come south along the Wales/England border region visiting small stations, enter South Wales through the much larger population centres of Newport, Cardiff and Swansea and then soon get to stations so small they are ‘request stops’, like Ferryside.

I was up early and walked the dog then walked down to Cardiff Central and all aboard the train.   I was picking up my friend at Swansea who also fancied a day’s walk.   The plan was not just to visit Ferryside, nice though it is, but to go from there down to Kidwelly and catch a train home from there.

First thing to remember, ask the conductor to stop the train at Ferryside.  Paul Merton visited Ferryside when making his TV programme about request stops.  I can see why.  It’s a lovely little place, right on the side of the estuary of the River Towy.  So close in fact that you would worry about storm surges and alike but today was tranquil.  What a quaint station Ferryside is with its signal box and old fashioned signal.

Ferryside station

We walked down the coast to St Ishmael, some of it walking on the beach, some of it along the lanes.  The occasional train went past on the nearby line.

Looking over to Llansteffan
Looking over to Llansteffan

We pottered around the church in St Ishmael that has been a place of worship for over 1000 years.

St Ishmael church

Another kilometre past St Ishmael and it was time to start heading inland, initially up the valley and then a steep walk through woods and ending up at Pengay Farm.

The bell on Pengay Farm - wonder if it is an old ship's bell
The bell on Pengay Farm – I wonder if it is an old ship’s bell

One reason for choosing this route was to visit some trig points – yes, strange hobbies some of us have, but they always seem to have a good view, well not always.

Time for a bit of trig point bagging
Time for a bit of trig point bagging

By the time we reached the village of Llansaint I was looking forward maybe to a beer but a local told us we were out of luck and the pub not open on a Monday.  He told us a lot more actually, about local shipwrecks and all sorts of things and where to go to get a good view south over Gwendraeth estuary and look over towards the Gower peninsular.  He wasn’t wrong.

The afternoon walk took us not straight down into Kidwelly.  The easiest way would have been far too straightforward so instead we went NE for a couple of miles over to another trig point and then south after that into Kidwelly.

We had a look at Kidwelly Castle.  It’s a wonder that anything remains of the place after so many people tried to attack it over the years – must have been well built. We read a bit about Gwenllian and he death at the Battle of Kidwelly.  It all went on around here.

Kidwelly Castle - some of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed here.
Kidwelly Castle – some of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed here.

Talking things happening, another place I was keen to see was Rumsey House, the former home of Mable Greenwood.  You probably won’t have heard of her unless you have been to one of my talks.  Poor Mable was poisoned with arsenic. Her husband, the local solicitor, amazingly was found not-guilty of killing her despite the evidence against him appearing strong, including the fact that he married his lover just a few months after his wife’s death.

Poisoned - Ted Richards

Kidwelly station is a fair step away from the town and as every teashop in town appeared to be shut, I guess because it was a Monday or after 3.30 or both, we wandered down and had a look at the estuary and the remains of the first canal built in Wales.

Kidwelly, also being a request stop, meant we got in more practice of stopping a train with the mere bend of the elbow.  Made us feel quite powerful.

Date of visit: 11 February 2019

See progress to date: A-Z of Railway Stations

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