North of Coryton Railway Station, the old Cardiff Railway is long gone; the track ripped up, stations demolished. But it would be wrong to say that there’s nothing left of the old line that once made an ambitious (and far from simple) route up the valley, snaking over and under everything that had already gone before, in an attempt to provide another way for coal to make it from Pontypridd down to the docks at Cardiff.
The single most spectacular section is the nature trail that leads immediately north of Coryton Railway Station up to Longwood Drive, where in days gone by Cardiff Railway was carried over Middle Lock by a bridge. Then there’s some surviving hints where the Cardiff Railway was carried underneath the Rhymney Railway (now the Taff Trail cycle path from Taffs Well to Nantgarw). And then Cardiff Railway re-appears through Taffs Well and out to Nantgarw.
The section out to Nantgarw has, in recent years, been revived as a pedestrian and cycle way, with a new bridge laid across the A4054 to replace the old railway bridge that is long gone. In May of 2009, I went out to the bridge with my Nikon D200 to capture the site as it stands today. I hope you enjoy it.
When it was still in existence, Cardiff Railway used to run through Taffs Well and then out and over the old A4054 Merthyr Road at this spot, crossing from right to left before running atop an embankment north to Nantgarw and the coking plant that used to be there before the land was cleared and turned into Treforest Industrial Estate.
The original railway bridge is long gone, but today, the old railway trackbed through Taffs Well is a foot path and cycle way, which is carried over the A4054 by this modern bridge.
Looking north from the bridge, the path runs atop the old railway embankment. You can see from the overexposed area on the left of the shot just how much the light and shade contrasts here.
Here’s a better view of the new bridge over the A4054, taking anyone walking or cycling north out of the shaded path and out into the bright sunlight.
In the railings leading up to the bridge, I spotted these spider webs.
The route south into Taffs Well from the bridge is best described as “shaded”. Even on a bright day like this one, the path is well sheltered from the sun by the retaining wall to the east and the trees growing on both sides.
I first walked this route quite a few years ago, before I had heard of the Glamorganshire Canal or any of the railways that I’ve spent so long exploring through the Merthyr Road project.
One of the first clues that there was a lost industrial heritage all around us that I was ignorant of came along this very track, where an old crossing point over the old railway still exists.
Half-hidden in the bushes besides the old crossing is this sign: “Beware of trains”. The style is one I recognise from the old coal railways of my youth in Yorkshire.
It was this sign, and one just like it up in Treforest, that first made me wonder about what used to be here in the valleys before everything we see today.
The former railway crossing leads to this house and what looks like a former church or chapel just behind it.
If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.