Rail Riders

Group Leader: David Horne – david@u3a-llandrindod.org.uk

The group plans to travel around using the rail network.

There are three options: Local (Wales), Regional (The UK) and Exploration (Europe!!).

“Local” will include, Gardens, Castles, Houses … whatever grabs the members interests.

The group will operate all the year round taking advantage of Free Rail in the winter!!!!

Planned trips

Trips being planned for 2023 are:

Network Rail from Caersws or Newtown to Birmingham – Group members are free to plan and /or explore Birmingham. There is much to see and enjoy, including historical canal tours and back to back houses tour (National Trust), Cadbury Word, museums and galleries

Severn Valley Railway – Return rail travel from Bridgenorth to Kidderminster.

Heart of Wales Line to Shrewsbury for Christmas lunch at The Armoury.

If we cannot travel from LLandrindod Station then travel to the railways is by car share and we strive to find somewhere decent to eat on the way home

Ideas are always welcome but the railway must be within reasonable communting distance

Latest news from the group

Severn Valley railway. September 2023

Published 18th October 2023

Severn Valley railway. September 2023

13 intrepid travellers set off from The metroplole Hotel to car share to Kidderminster to catch the 10 am train to Bridgenorth on the Severn Valley Railway. Arriving in plenty of time we found there to be a lot of passengers on the same journey. Everyone arrived on time and nobody was missing. Blue Leader was delighted.

The authenticity of the heritage railways is awesome. They even had passengers standing in corridors to provide that feeling of reminiscence . remember the old British Railway days whene trains ran late and were over crowded? It was a bit like that.

The journey was fabul;ous with plenty of lovely scenic views of Worcestershire countryside as we passed throughBewdley, Arley, Highley and Hampden Loade before arriving at 11.10am.

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Everyone was free to do their own thing in Bridgenorth. Sadly the Cliff railway was not available owing to overhauling works. Funnily enough we all decided to frequent the same Wetherspoons establishment for lunch, not all at the same time I hasten to add but at some point we were all in there at the same time.

The journey back began at 4.10pm and we arrived back at Kidderminster by 5.20pm for the return car jouney to Llandrindod.

Birmingham. June 2023

Published 20th June 2023

The latest adventure for the group took place on Wednesday 14th June 2023. A small group of 8 travelled from Llandrindod station to Birmingham on The Heart of Wales Line, changing at Shrewsbury for Birmingham New Street.

Nothing was pre-arranged and was a self exploring trip, encouraging folk to do their own thing.

You may recall a recent presentation at one of our main meetings about the Back to Back housing project. These properties were built in industrial centres during the industrial revolution to accomodate the workers flooding into these towns and cities. At the time Birmingham was little more than a village but that changed in a big way.

The project in Birmingham is where a small group visited this day, it being the only exisitng group of original and restored buildings in their original position

There were 90 people living in just this block of 6 houses. In the slum clearances of the 1960’s and 70’s people were relocated into more spacious accomodation such as terraced houses and high rise flats.

Another group spent their time exploring the Jewellery Quarter and I am assured the wallet was somewhat lighter for the experience.

Later we all reconvened at The London and Northern public house on New Street Station, a Wetherspoons I am led to believe, before we returned to Llandrindod

The Cambrian Line

Published 29th March 2023

Caersws to Pwllheli – Wednesday 22nd March 2023

Finally, at last. Yes we did it.

After months of thought preceded by failure, Blue Leader managed to book tickets for this much awaited and anticipated trip.
Back in August/September 2022 we were thwarted by planned rail worker strikes and then by planned engineering works brought forward to October and through to January 2023. I was a young man with lots of dark hair before all this – believe what you like!

So I kept checking at Llandrindod station with the lovely and very helpful Jackie. She assured me that line would be open and running in March. We had to get it done before end of March so we could use our bus passes to travel to get from Machynlleth to Pwllheli. The odd thing was that we had to pay from Caersws to Machynlleth. That is because the train originated in England. Then one day I attended the station to book our tickets. Guess what? The ticket office was closed until further notice.

Not to be outdone I went on the Transport for Wales App to book but you can only book 9 tickets at a time and there were 27 of us.
However if you rang a number in Cardiff for group travel you can book as many as you need. Several times I rang … and rang … and rang.


I was on the point of going via the app but thought one more try and I got through. I got all the tickets, except one because we have a junior member in our midst but got that separately.

Stay with it, nearly there.

The tickets duly arrived and we all met up at The Metropole Hotel at the prescribed day and time. Weather dry but overcast and chilly.
We car shared to Caersws and arrived in plenty of time. Now, not to beat a point but the train was supposed to have 4 carriages – the front 2 splitting off at Machynlleth for the journey up the line. Guess what? No? Then I’ll tell you. There were only 2 carriages. I told everyone to get on and I would sort it with the conductor! “Is this our train?” “ Are you sure this is the right train?” Even my beloved was questioning.

“Well, it would not be a Railriders trip if nothing went wrong”.

Oh yea of little faith. Of course it was the right train. Network rail made an executive decision to send the 4 carriage train to Birmingham instead but did not change the information board. The conductor told us to get off at Machynlleth and wait for our train to arrive to go to Pwllheli, which we did. The journey, if you’ve never done it, is picturesque and scenic. The train stopped at every stop on the line which gave us 2.5 hours to relax and enjoy what we saw.

The views of the coastline and the views inland were as anticipated. Our Borderlines editor tried to take a photo of Harlech Castle but the train going the other way blocked his view so have used a stock photo.

Arriving on time in Pwllheli we were hungry, even though Blue Leader had supplied chocolates and finger biscuits. In Pwllheli there are quite a few eateries and it was every man for himself for 4 hours. It’s funny but most of us, 26 out of 27 ended up in the same place – Wetherspoons. When I mentioned there was one quite a few faces lit up and said we might as well go there then. When we walked in it was busy. I mean really busy. We couldn’t get seats all together but we made made ourselves fit into the spaces and had a really good time. Some people eating in a Wetherspoons for the first time I believe. I think they might do it again. Good food and refreshments combined are a well trusted way of enhancing a social situation.

After lunch was more testing as there is not much to speak of in Pwllheli but folk found their own paths and we agreed a meeting time for the journey back. Now I know it is the same journey but a hill or sand dune does not look the same from both sides and we enjoyed different aspect and views missed on the way up. A lively carriage with more chocolates and biscuits and plenty of tired people arrived back in Caersws. We didn’t even have to change trains and Machynlleth. Bonus.

A long day ended with car journeys back to Llandrindod. Here is my favourite bit – On the 23rd March the whole line was flooded and did not run! We were meant to do that journey. However if anyone asks me to arrange a repeat …