Brecon Mountain Railways: A Historical Adventure

Brecon Mountain Railways offers history buffs, train enthusiasts and travel freaks an adventure. Here’s everything that it has to offer!


The main engine for the Brecon Mountain Railways train
Built from scrap from older locomotives, the Brecon Mountain Railways has been running since 1996.


As someone who loves history and trains and has read far too much of Enid Blyton and Sherlock Holmes, the Brecon Mountain Railways is the place to be. With the misty rolling moors, the mysterious air around the whole town, the small houses and not to forget the old steam locomotive with its tooting horn that pierces the quiet town every forty-five minutes.


I knew I was on some kind of an adventure when my mum, grandmother and I decided to go to the Brecon Mountain Railway.


Set at the edge of the Merthyr Tydfil, one of those beautiful Welsh towns, with cobblestone streets and where everyone knows each other, the Pant Railway station is set a few miles away from the actual town. We were pleasantly surprised when we reached the town and had everyone smile and wave at us while helping us with directions. While there is a single bus that runs throughout the day, the walk from the bus station to the railway station is a beautiful one on its own. Almost every house has a well-tended garden filled with beautiful flowers and at least one dog, all of whom seemed just as friendly as the townspeople themselves!


The Pant railway station is just off the side to the cemetery giving off a very Hounds of Baskerville feel to the entire place. Rolling misty hills in the distance, barren trees, a chilly breeze constantly ruffling your hair and the old cemetery to the side, all it lacked was the howl of wolves in the distance. But the tooting of the train horn just about made up for that.

The station itself gives off a vibe of the early 1920s and you almost expect hear the clip clop of horses. Though no such thing happens, this place has its own history.

The Brecon Mountain Railways, Pant Station
Built in 1978, the station now has a cafe and a ticket booth.

Originally built in 1859, the railway line that snaked through an abandoned part of Brecon and Merthyr Railway, was shut down in 1964. But in 1978, an idea to build and operate a steam railway was conceived. For the next two decades, the planning consents were signed and thus in 1998, a number of parts of locomotives from across the world were collected and the Brecon Mountain Railways came in to existence.


The steam run train runs from Pant Station to Torpantau spanning a distance of five miles. It runs in between a mountain, a valley, follows the path of a reservoir and the sights are to behold. To make things even better, the Pontsticill station also has a café built inside a train carriage, a beautiful view of the reservoir and a museum that has three old locomotive carriages. I later found out that underneath the reservoir reside a number of houses that are used by the people in the summer months when the water goes down and they shut off the dam!

Steam engine on Brecon Mountain Railways
The train is quite a popular way to travel to Torpantau, there is also a hiking trail that people can take.

This is a stark contrast to the Torpantau station which has a small wagon, an old steam engine and a board that announces the name of the station. But what makes this special, especially to me, is the fact that you can go hiking in the woods with a canopy of pine trees over your head, the calls of bird echoing in your ears, and nothing but peace and the stunning beauty of nature all around you.


But it is the Pant station that just takes the cake! With wooden and stone architecture, this has two levels, the first one that houses a café, the ticket counter and an information desk.To get to the platform we crossed over a beautifully restored garage that has one old engine, a number of machines and a set of work clothes that the engineers wear. Right across the hall from this is a gift store and a miniature working model of the original track of the train complete with people waiting at the stations and the tooting of the horn. Being someone who loves trains, this just made my entire day brighter.

One of the older steam machines at the Brecon Mountain Railways Pant station
The Garage is sill used by the staff and has all the old and new tools for the repair.

All across the halls, throughout the station are old posters adorning the walls, as beautiful as these were, what was even better was the fact that my grandmother’s exclamation, “Oh! I remember these posters. They were there everywhere in India! As children all of us were just so enthralled by these and we wanted to know everything about the world outside India!”



The entire staff here is extremely friendly and their knowledge of the history of the railways in Wales is immense. In fact, it was the ticket collector who told me that the world’s first steam railway built by a Cornishman Richard Trevithick took its maiden trial right there in Merthyr in 1804.


Once the train arrives at the Pant station, the loco pilot and his navigator, get off the train and start working on changing the direction of the engine. It was the single most fascinating thing I thought I’d seen till I saw the engine and its multiple controls. As a train fanatic I was beyond enthralled. The locopilot was friendly enough to let everyone pose with him for pictures and was just as happy to tell them about his life as an engine driver. But the best bit was when he heard of my love for trains and let me wear his cap! Best moment ever.