Llantwit Major

A shorter journey today for us found us at ‘L for Llantwit Major’.  A varied day of history, a blustery beech walk and Greggs vegan sausage rolls. What more could a man want?

There are a couple of different way of getting to Llantwit Major by train from Cardiff.  You can either go via Bridgend on a modern GWR train, change and then south to Llantwit Major, or you can choose to go TfW via Dinas Powys, Barry, Rhoose.  Going via Barry allows you to travel over the viaduct at Porthkerry, something I normally just look at from the ground up. It’s a wonder it is still standing given the problems they had constructing it in the late 1900s, with lots of subsidence experienced and underpinning necessary.  Sorry, I didn’t man to make you nervous next time you are crossing it.

Llantwit Major railway station

After arriving at Llantwit we headed for the historic part of the town taking in the town hall and views of some attractive and tempting pubs. We arrived at St Illtud’s church which seems a microcosm of history covering the last 1500 years. We struck lucky here in that the church happened to be open, it being a Sunday.

This was the site of the Monastery of Illtud and the college known as Bangor Illtyd, said to be  one of the most esteemed centres of Christian culture in the Celtic world with 2000 students – no wonder there’s a lot of pubs in the town.  Some claim this is the oldest educational establishment the country was on this site and St David and other saints were taught here in the 5th century.  I wonder how he did in his SATs.

The church now houses a collection of Celtic stones which date back to the 9th century. The church itself dates back to the 11th century with later additions in the 13th and 15th century. I was particularly impressed by the medieval  wall paintings in the old chapel.

St Illtud's church

After adsorbing all that history it was time to head to the sea. Its about a kilometre SW of the town and we mainly kept to the paths that ran parallel to the road.  Not too many people around today on this blustery Sunday. The tall crumbly cliffs east and west of the pebbly beach always look impressive.

Llantwit Major beach

On arriving back in the town we had a bit of lunch and then ambled onto the station for our train home.  We waited, and waited, and waited ……….   a bit of a medical emergency at Bridgend apparently.  Eventually it arrived and all was well – with the casualty too I hope.

Date of trip: 10 Mar 2019

See progress to date: A-Z of Railway Stations


I’d been wanting to ride the Heart of Wales line for a number of years and visiting Knighton provided the ideal opportunity.  We had our South Wales Rover Tickets so planned to do a circular route, or should that be a triangular route, Cardiff to Llanelli, up to Knighton for some exploring, then onto Craven Arms and back down to Cardiff.

heart of wales

In winter months, over 60s living in Wales go on the Heart of Wales Line for free. As a result of this generous concession our single carriage from Llanelli to Knighton was rather full and noisy.  The driver luckily spotted the fallen tree on the line as we approached it and he and the conductor jumped out to move it away – all part of the service.  It was a bit like scenes from Casey Jones, the American railroad series I used to watch when I was a boy. If you did too then I bet the theme tune is playing in your head right now!

Casey Jones
Steamin’ and rollin’
Casey Jones
You never have to guess
When you hear the tootin’ of the whistle
It’s Casey at the throttle of the Cannonball Express

Knighton is right on the Wales-England border.  Knighton first prospered as a centre of the wool trade in the 15th century.   The town itself is in Wales but the train station is actually in England.  The station opened in 1861 and is an impressive station in comparison to some I’ve seen recently.    After a bit of exploring of Knighton we headed for a cafe lunch.

Knighton station
Knighton station

The town is dominated by the town clock, seemingly modelled on a space rocket. I wonder what it’s like inside?  Can you still get all the way to the top and look out of the small windows I wondered.

Knighton town
Knighton, Powys

I’ve been looking at the photos of our trip (a few years after we made it) and just got very confused.  There were pictures from the inside of a church and along a riverbank that I have no recollection of.  It’s taken a while for me to figure it out – I wasn’t there.  It was in fact the afternoon of the Wales versus Scotland rugby match, so whilst I retired to the Horse and Jockey to watch the game and Ian went off for an energetic walk. I should have remembered it as Wales beat Scotland in Edinburgh and went on to win the Grand Slam.

Sheep at Knighton station
The days when sheep were the main passengers using Knighton station.

By perfect timing the train for Craven Arms left shortly after the final whistle where we picked up a Cardiff train.  A long day on the rails and another great railway adventure that’s for sure.

Date of trip: 9 March 2019

See progress to date: A-Z of Railway Stations


My friend Ian joined me for a bit of train travel and we had a cunning plan. We would buy a South Wales Pass which allowed us four days travel on the train.  One day 1 we went to Johnston in Pembrokeshire.  As the train heads west from the busy Cardiff and Swansea stations things get a little quieter.  Some trains go direct from Cardiff to Johnston but for us we had the added excitement of having to change trains at Clarbeston Road which is a request stop.  It gave Ian an opportunity to take some photos, one of which is one of the best photos of a railway I think I’ve ever seen – well done that man.

Clarbeston Road station
Clarbeston Road station

Would our connecting train pick us up I wondered?   I needn’t have worried.  It all worked very smoothly and we were soon on our way to Johnston.

Cheery Transport for Wales staff

I’d never heard of Johnston before I started searching for stations beginning with the letter J.  Having arrived there I could understand why. There’s nothing wrong with the village at all, just not somewhere you may come on a day out, unless like us, you had a cunning plan.

Johnston railway station

After being on a train for close to three hours I felt the need to do some geocaching.  I found the cache near the station no problem and then the one near St Peter’s church.  There’s been a church here since the late thirteenth century but there’s been a few rebuilds since then.  After exploring the churchyard for a while we set off south down the Brunel Trail.  The walk followed the former GWR line, designed by Brunel.  I geocached for the first part at the same time was dodging the occasional cyclist.  After that it was time to concentrate more on the walking.  We passed some pretty ex-railway properties now converted into cottages and the Westfield Pill Nature Reserve.

Johnston and the Brunel Trail
Johnston and the Brunel Trail

On the outskirts of Neyland we left the trail and took another mode of transport, a bus over the Cleddau Bridge and into Pembroke Dock.  There was enough time remaining for us to explore a bit of the town, go down to the dock and see the ferry leaving in the distance and then walk up to the station to catch our train home.  Pembroke Dock station is one of those that looks like time has forgot.  In fact it you didn’t know the timetable you may have wondered if it was still in use.  Luckily it was and we were soon on our way back to Cardiff, via the Pembrokeshire coastal towns of Saundersfoot and Tenby.

Pembroke Dock and railway station
Pembroke Dock and railway station

Thanks to Ian for most of the photos.

Date of trip: 7 March 2019

See progress to date: A-Z of Railway Stations


I realised I’d had it easy up till now, experiencing no real problems finding a station beginning with letters A to H.  Finding a station beginning with I was a little more challenging.  I did however have a stroke of luck.  We had a wedding to attend in London and that meant I could widen my search area.  Hence I stumbled upon I for Iver.  It is west of London, on the GWR mainline, some 14 miles from Paddington.  I did some homework on Iver and failed to come up with anything that would entice my wife to accompany me on the journey so instead she spent the morning at the V&A museum and I headed out to Iver.

Iver Railway Station

If I told you how I had tried to sell the idea of Iver to my wife you may begin to understand why I failed.  Firstly I’d had to admit that the train station isn’t in Iver at all and she faced a walk to get to the town.  Then I described Pinewood Studios (but we weren’t allowed in there) and Heatherden Hall, a mansion where the agreement to form the Irish Free State happened to be signed (don’t think we are allowed in there either), and Richings Park which is where RAF Bomber Command used to be briefly in WWII before it was destroyed – can’t go there wither as it has been developed into housing.  And that’s why I went on my own.

The was construction work ongoing at Iver station when I arrived.  May be it was all part of the handover of the station from GWR to Crossrail.  It certainly had me confused when I was looking for the Sidetracked – Iver geocache.  I found the Grand Union canal and went for a stroll along it but to be hones canals don’t look their best in February, all rather grey. From there I headed the half mile north towards the town centre. I stopped off to explore St Peter’s church and read a bit about its history which goes all the way back to Saxon times.  The history included the interesting fact that in the Eighteenth Century  the churchwarden made payments for killing a wide range of ‘vermin’ —polecats, stoats, hedgehogs (porpentines), and sparrows.

St Peter's church, Iver, Bucks

From the church I headed north up Swan Lane to find a couple more geocaches and admire the houses.  Returning to the church I then went west into the centre of Iver.  If I’m being honest with you I don’t find a lot there to explore or write about.  The old pub looks nice, there is a village sign and the local restaurant try and make a play on words with their names. I wandered back to the churchyard and ate my lunch musing on what other properties in the town may have been called.  Would the GP have been Iver Temperature and the dentist Iver Toothache?

Iver Village

I scampered back down to the station, caught the train back to Paddington where I met my wife before we caught the train back to Cardiff.

Date of visit: 25 February 2019

See progress to date: A-Z of Railway Stations


I chose another cathedral destination for my next destination – Hereford, and once again it was approximately an hour by train from Cardiff.  Hereford station is one of those that looked much more impressive from the outside than the from the platform. What a great red brick frontage it has. The station was originally called Barrs Court Railway Station and opened in 1853.

Hereford Railway Station 2019

I headed for the cathedral as I was keen to see Mappa Mundi which is the largest medieval map still known to exist. There used to be a larger one in Hanover, Germany but it was destroyed in an Allied WWII bombing which seems rather an unjust way to gain the record.  It was indeed fascinating to see and a February morning the ideal time to visit judging by the fact I had the place to myself. The map is 130 centimetres in diameter, large enough to see the detail.  A modern depiction of the map nearby helped make things even clearer.

Mappa Mundi

Chained library, Hereford CathedralThe Mappa Mundi wasn’t the only fascinating thing to see in the cathedral.  It also has a chained library.  The blurb says ‘The chaining of books was the most widespread and effective security system in European libraries from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, and Hereford Cathedral’s 17th-century Chained Library is the largest to survive with all its chains, rods and locks intact’.  Just the sight of the chained books was enough for me – I didn’t have any compulsion to see inside the books, it was just the realisation of the fact of how valuable books were in the past that it was deemed necessary to chain them up. How we take books for granted these days.

Of course there was some geocaching to be done in the middle of the day that took me through parks, through the centre of town and some places a normal day visitor would never have got to see.

Cider press as the Museum of Cider, HerefordWhat I did stumble upon though and a place that I hadn’t planned to visit was the Museum of Cider.  I wouldn’t claim to be the world’s number one cider fan, but if the beer has run out and the weather is hot then I have been known to enjoy a glass or two.  What I was more interested in was the mechanics of cider making.  I had walked through a few cider orchards last summer and had a couple of friends who were developing a cider orchard in West Wales and was interested in learning about the various stages involved in turning the humble apple into something that makes you fall over.

I found there was plenty in Hereford to entertain me for the day.  Well worth a visit.

Views of Hereford

Date of visit: 22 February 2019

See progress to date: A-Z of Railway Stations


Doctor Foster went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain,
He stepped in a puddle,
Right up to his middle,
And never went there again.

For some reason that little ditty was recited endlessly in our house when I was young.  It must have been an indication of how much it rained in Cardiff.  No rain today though, a pleasant sunny winter’s day. I travelled for an hour by CrossCountry train from Cardiff to Gloucester, along the bank of the Severn Estuary. This used to be the main London to South Wales line until the Severn Tunnel was opened in 1886.

Gloucester raillway station

I planned to spend the day exploring the town, docks and cathedral areas.  The first thing that caught my eye was an equestrienne statue.  It was the Roman Emperor Nerva and the plaque said ‘after whom Gloucester was named’.  Obviously one or both of them has had a name change since.  If of course he’s been called Emperor Gloucester it would have made more sense and the nursery rhyme could have gone ‘Emperor Gloucester went to Gloucester ……’, and would have been much more fun.

Roman Emperor Nerva statue, Gloucester

Candle sculpture, Gloucester - Wolfgang ButtressGloucester Docks is now a gentrified old Victorian Dock where some of the old buildings have been saved and converted into accommodation, museums and shops.  It was the most inland port in the country apparently. It is home of the Inland Waterways Museum. There’s a Victorian Pillar Box outside the museum which I got all excited about until later reading it is a replica.  How disappointing.

The giant 21m tall Candle sculpture did impress me however, as did the name of the sculptor, Wolfgang Buttress.  I stood and admired it whilst at the same time trying to figure out how it had been made.  Laser cut out of steel apparently.  That’s one heck of a laser cutter I thought.

From the docks I made my way to the cathedral, and wow, what a structure it is.  I spent a couple of hours exploring it and the surrounding medieval religious buildings.  Cathedrals evoke a whole range of thoughts and feelings in me.  I naturally admire the architecture and the phenomenal effort it must have taken to design and build, the years of man-hours those stone masons must have spent carving.  But then I think about who paid for it, the common people living in their poor living conditions staring at the religious edifice being created in their midst. I always wonder how they felt about it all.

Jenner statue, Gloucester AbbeyThere’s quite a historical link between Gloucester and Cardiff – I see it every time I go into the centre of Cardiff.  It’s Cardiff Castle, built by Robert Fitzhamon, Baron of Gloucester.  I was reminded of that link when I went into the cathedral and saw the tomb of Robert of Normandy, William the Conqueror’s eldest son. He had a rocky relationship with his father and brothers and never became king. In fact he was captured by his younger brother, Henry I, and sent to prison in Cardiff Castle, where he died. I wonder why they bought his body back to Gloucester to be buried in the Cathedral if they didn’t think much of him.

The other thing that caught my eye in the cathedral was the giant marble statue of Edward Jenner. He was a doctor in nearby Berkeley and through his observations of milkmaids appearing to be immune to smallpox he developed the first vaccination, subsequently saving the lives of many people.  There’s another Cardiff connection here – there is a carving of Jenner of the Cardiff University building on Newport Road.

There was just enough time left to have another wander around the centre of town including the Baker jewellery shop on Southgate Street. Under the actual clock there are five bells in a display that are used to signal the quarter hours and hours of the clock. Each figure has a bell to strike with the centre bell being hit by a hammer attached to a cord pulled by Old Father Time in the centre of the tableau. The other bell chiming characters are represent the nations of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales respectively.

Baker clock, Gloucester

And so home to Cardiff on another CrossCountry train.  With the dark evenings it wasn’t possible to admire the scenery so I was left to contemplate which station I was going to visit on my next day out – one beginning with H.

Date of visit: 16 February 2019

See progress to date: A-Z of Railway Stations


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

Dinas Rhondda

Dinas Rhondda station signThis was a day out in January 2019, not so much to visit a town, but to walk up a hill.  Dinas Rhondda is as the name suggests, in the Rhondda valley, between the more sizable towns of Porth and Tonypandy, the later town being where Winston Churchill controversially sent the troops in during a miners’ strike riot in 1910.  Dinas Rhondda is one of the train stops on the way to Treherbert.

Dinas Rhondda station - Pacer on its way to Treherbert - January 2019
Dinas Rhondda station – Pacer on its way to Treherbert

It was a cold and frosty January day but the forecast was good and it did indeed stay dry all day, though the temperature never seemed to get above freezing.  It was one of those days when its best to keep moving.    After exiting the comfort, I use that word loosely, of my Pacer train, taking a few pics, I explored a bit of Dinas, picking up a geocache in the process.  One thing I wasn’t expecting to stumble across in the town were pigs.  I was stood just on the other side of the wall when I spotted them.  I had quite a freight. My dog looked a bit surprised too I must say. Their black colourings blended in very well with the colour of  field (that’s another loosely used word).

Dinas Rhondda pig - A bit like a moth, this pig blends into its background very well
A bit like a moth, this pig blends into its background very well.

Time to head for the hills.  I’m still getting used to the fact that in South Wales you can quickly escape the noise and clutter of the town and soon be on the hills and hardly notice the towns below in the valley.  I thought I had done that today.  After a half hours walk the path was flattening out and the views beginning to appear.  The last thing I expected to see up here was a town.  Trebanog seems to break the rules.  Its not nestling down in the valley like most Welsh towns but for some reason but perched high up on a hillside.  It’s as if someone in the planning department didn’t understand contour lines when looking at a map and decided to build a village just here.  I can imagine it gets a bit nippy up here in winter when the wind is blowing. Fortunately for me today all was calm.  I was even more surprised when I read Dorothy Squires spent her last few years living here. (I had a lift off her pianist once when hitchhiking in the 1980s).

Trebanog - Rhondda Valley - South Wales
Trebanog – seems a strange place to build a town

The geocache I had come to find is aptly called Edge of the World.  I’d like to say it was a simple straightforward find but I’d be lying.  It took a fair old time to work out from the description given where I should be.  The undergrowth in January should be short but the tufty reeds could hide a lot.  I read and reread the logs previous finders had left.  It seemed I was in the right place but just couldn’t lay my hands on it.  I didn’t want to give up.  It was a long way to walk back up here another time in the future.  Eventually I got it.  Phew!

Looking up the Rhondda Valley
Looking up the Rhondda Valley

I headed further along the path I had walked up and realised that if I was lucky I could descend off the hill a different way and end up in Porth and catch the train home from there.  The plan worked reasonably well except that the track, once it became metalled, also became very icy.  A pair of skis would have come in handy.  Luckily I stayed upright the whole way down though it was touch and go at times.  I’ve never seen a dog loose his footing so much.  My poor collie dog sliding all over the place.

Half way up Mynnyd Y Cymmer
Half way up Mynnyd Y Cymmer

The path down bought us almost into the middle of Porth.  There was just one geocache left to find and with the help of my decoy-dog it wasn’t too tricky.  Another nice warm Pacer train, still in Arrive Trains Wales livery, brought us back to Cardiff.

Date of visit: 30 January 2019

See progress to date: A-Z of Railway Stations


My 700 Series Crosscountry train leaving for Birmingham
My 700 Series Crosscountry train leaving for Birmingham

And so another day out on the train in January 2019 and for C I had chosen Chepstow.  What a hidden gem it turned out to be.  If I had been here before in my days as a delivery driver then I had forgotten about it.  It’s easy to get there from Cardiff Central station, no change of train needed.  And what’s more it’s a picturesque ride along the Severn estuary too.  In no time at all I was arriving at Chepstow station, one of those stations where it seems time has stood still.  There’s an old covered footbridge, a small brick ticket office and even a little café.  I almost didn’t want to leave the station.

Old footbridge at Chepstow station.

I forced myself to head off towards the town.  Be warned this isn’t the most charming entry into a town you’ll get.  Yes, over the years the M4 and other main roads have taken some traffic away from Chepstow but there is still a fair amount of traffic wanting to drive around it and you have to get over or under those roads before you get to the heart of Chepstow. 

Workshop Gallery Chepstow. I have been looking for a company that happens to make blue plaques.
Workshop Gallery Chepstow. I have been looking for a company that happens to make blue plaques.

I was here not only to explore the town, absorb the atmosphere, learn about the history of the place but also to do an extended geocache, on a route that would start and end in the town centre but also take me down to the river and castle.  The pedestrian route from the town to the river I found also a bit confusing but then again I was looking for clues on my trail so wasn’t following the most direct route but it did show me some of the hidden away places in the narrow windy backstreets that can still maintain a small independent shop or two.

Chepstow quayside - much quieter here now than it was 100 years ago
Chepstow quayside – much quieter here now than it was 100 years ago.

The last the Newport Chartists saw of WalesHaving meandered through the narrow roads and lanes I was suddenly at the quayside and I think this was my favourite part of the town.  It was not holiday season and it was relatively early and I seemed to have the place to myself.  It’s almost as if I had discovered the river, the charming pubs, the bandstand, the beautiful Bigsweir iron bridge over the River Wye. This is the quay which back in Victorian times would have been busy with people making the trip back and from to Bristol.  Back further in time it was the place where some of the Newport Chartists were deported to Tasmania, probably never to see the green green grass of home ever again.

I had been on the other side of the River Wye last year when walking the first section of the Offa’s Dyke path – and not walked another section since.  One day I’ll get back to it.  That walk had taken me high up on the cliffs where I overlooked the river and the town and barely got an idea what was here below.  Today, as I turned the corner and started to head back up the hill towards the town I found the museum housed in an old Georgian townhouse, the Norman castle commissioned by William the Conqueror, nice green open spaces, all of which I left mainly unexplored as there was so much else to see.

Bigsweir bridge over the River Wye in Chepstow
Bigsweir bridge over the River Wye in Chepstow

Around a few more corners and across a car park I was in the bustling town centre.  The quayside may have been quiet but the town centre was alive.  People purposely going about their business and the Georgian and Victorian architecture of the buildings and shops looking good.

Chepstow Castle, one of the oldest surviving castles
Chepstow Castle, one of the oldest surviving castles
The boatman sculpture in Chepstow. Must get chilly in the Winter months
The boatman sculpture in Chepstow. Must get chilly in the Winter months

As I headed back down towards the river, having not gathered all the clues to solve puzzle I was working on, there was the town hall, the naked sculpture of the boatman, representing Chepstow’s past. I didn’t want to stare but I was trying to find the clues I needed. 

One more circuit of the town and I managed to find most but not all the information I was after.  It can be surprising what you spot second time around, looking behind you when you didn’t the first time around.  I battled the main road again and even had time back at the station for a cup of tea before my train back to Cardiff arrived.

The colourful Georgian houses of Chepstow

Date of visit: 25 January 2019

See progress to date: A-Z of Railway Stations


Bridgend station ticket office
The modern ticket office at Bridgend station.

Well this is an easy challenge so far.  I was spoilt for choice of where to go for a station beginning with a B. Would it be Barry or Bristol, Britton Ferry or Birmingham?  In the end I decided on Bridgend, more because I fancied a trip combined with a bit of geocaching.  And so in January 2019 I headed west to Bridgend. It’s an easy trip from Cardiff that’s for sure as Bridgend is on the main Cardiff to Swansea line and most trains stop there.  Have I been there before?  Not that I can recall, though I must have been through it on the train many times before.

So regular is the service I didn’t even bother planning my trip – just turned up at Cardiff Central and caught the next train to Bridgend.  Fortunately for me it turned out to be one of the new Class 800 trains.  My dog gave it the thumbs up and lay down quietly for the journey.

One of the new Class 800 trains at Bridgend station
One of the new Class 800 trains at Bridgend station.

Once at Bridgend I had a nose around the station which is quite a mix of modern and old.  It was then out and virtually straight into the centre of town.  Yes, the River Ogmore does pass through the centre of Bridgend but if I was being honest it is not at its most attractive at this point.  The historic bridge in the centre of Bridgend, imaginatively called the Old Bridge dates back to 1425 and is a scheduled ancient monument.  

The historic bridge in the centre of Bridgend

My hound isn’t at his most comfortable in town centres – mainly sniffing out scraps of food that people have dropped.  So maybe I should have written – I am not at my most comfortable with my dog in town centres.  He’s probably perfectly happy.  We soon escaped the main streets and the rest of the day was spent geocaching to the south west of the town along the banks of the River Ogmore, finding all bar one of the geocaches we looked for.  Some were a bit tricky but most were OK, some quite inventive in the way they were hidden.

One of these creatures wasn't real.
One of these creatures wasn’t real.

Date of visit: 21 January 2019

See progress so far: A-Z of Railway Stations