This article is primarily interested
with tourist attractions of all sizes in the Wye Valley and how
they will benefit from the railway being reinstated.
1) Tintern Abbey
The railway signed its death
warrant when it built the station as far away from Tintern as
it is possible to really get, since it meant that tourists were
always going to find access to the famous abbey extremely difficult.
A station at the southern end of Tintern Tunnel is as close as
the route can get without abandoning the original formation altogether.
However, a good-quality path from here to the Abbey via the Wireworks
branch could easily be marketed as being part of the experience
and the Monks Path over the tunnel to Brockweir would provide
a mixture of ways of getting back to the train. No longer would
visitor numbers be limited by the size of the car park. Furthermore,
as the footpath would not cross the river on the Abbey's doorstep
but a few hundred yards up the valley, the various shops and
pubs along the route would benefit from the railway too - whereas
currently they gain nothing from those who arrive by car, walk
around, get back in their car and go home.
Coach parties could be persuaded
to do the last leg from Tidenham by train (possibly in peak times
a steam trains could be laid on from Tidenham to Tintern between
service ones to make this more appealing) and the passengers
would then get to see more of the Wye Valley in the process.
2) National Diving and Activity
Located adjacent to Tidenham
station, it would be a most remarkable failure on the part of
all concerned if this location failed to benefit from the return
of rail services. The former quarry, which kept the stub of the
line open until 1990, is now a tourist attraction. Half-filled
with water, its drowned "exhibits" include a Boeing
747, two former Cardiff buses and army trucks. Running along
the south boundary is the A48 from Gloucester.
The River Wye's rapids make
canoeing a popular activity on the river. A train with decent
luggage space could easily accommodate a few canoes for people
to catch the train up the valley and canoe down. A bridge at
Tintern with no supports would ensure that there would be no
additional inconveniences to these people.
There is a vineyard just outside
Tintern Old Station and the provision of a railway station would
allow those visiting to get slightly tipsy without having to
worry about the A466. Instead they could walk down to the station
and catch the train back to wherever.
The Wye glistens in the Easter
sun a mile north of the village of Whitebrook. The sweeping curves
and wooded banks make it a picturesque scene.
Most of the proposed station
sites are already linked by footpaths of various forms and so
there will be plenty of opportunities for people to go for long
walks between them. A walks booklet would be produced advertising
some of them. A walk between Tintern and Redbrook would be much
easier to carry out if it was then possible to catch the train
back rather than having to wait for a bus or find a way of persuading
the car to come to Redbrook and provide transport home. Car-based
walks have to be circular - train-based walks don't. You can
get off at one station and amble along the valley for a bit,
getting back on the train at another station. You don't have
to worry about parking your car in a strange place.
A train fitted out with enough
room for canoes would also be able to carry bikes, so cyclists
would be able to use the train easily should the weather turn
foul or if they fancy avoiding a particularly steep or dangerous
stretch (for example, getting on the train at Tintern Junction
and then alighting at Netherhope would provide time to recover,
avoid the A466 and offer a variety of alternative routes into
6) Pub Crawls
Often seemingly out of fashion,
pub crawls are very popular with certain people and are part
of the advertising for many lines in Devon and Cornwall. The
Wye Valley is home to many pubs, some of which are convenient
for stations and some of which would require an actual crawl.
Monmouth and Chepstow also have good stocks of these hostelries.
No doubt some arrangement could be made to provide tickets which
covered two days to make such trips easier. The pub crawlers
would not have to worry about infringing drink-driving (or drink-cycling
laws), although the railway would naturally refuse admission
to those who were too drunk for their own good (mostly defined
by those who look likely to drunkenly argue when the guard asks
them to pay up).
There are quite a lot of these
dotted up and down the Wye Valley - the bulk are in Chepstow
and Monmouth, but there are also some in Tintern and Redbrook
and, to a lesser extent, Llandogo. None of these - apart from
maybe Chepstow - will benefit exceptionally from a cycleway -
bulky items are awkward to fit onto a bike, heavy items are a
nuisance (particularly on 5 mile cycles) and Llandogo, Redbrook
and Monmouth are not set to be linked to the cycleway anyway.
The railway would link up all the shops and not require heavy
and bulky items to be manhandled (or womanhandled) onto bikes
Furthermore, the railway would
link everybody with Tesco Chepstow. It still wouldn't have the
convenience of the local shops, but those people in the Wye Valley
who wanted to do a supermarket shop could do so without having
to bother with a car. Tesco Chepstow is barely a 100yard walk
from Chepstow station. It would probably prove particularly popular
if Tesco provided a trolley-drop-off point at the station.
8) The Peregrine Path
The Ross and Monmouth Railway
has no prospect of re-opening any time soon due to excessive
economies being made with the landscape in the vicinity of most
of its intermediate stations (it made the mistake of, unlike
the WVR, actually serving some places, with the result that its
trackbed was worth something). However, one of the longer clear
stretches is that between Monmouth May Hill station and Symonds
Yat, which has been duly turned into the Peregrine Path. This
attractive route is now due to be extended by a Sustrans Connect2
project which will bring it down to Monmouth Troy station, allowing
direct connections from the WVR.
More than any other use of
the WVR's trackbed, the railway would open up the possibility
for families to reach Symonds Yat from South Wales and Bristol
without bringing the car. Instead they could catch the train
to Monmouth and then cycle or walk. The train would have plenty
of accommodation for cyclists, but something could be organised
for those who wanted to hire a bike in Monmouth. If the goods
shed at Monmouth Troy had survived it would make a good cycle
hire centre; as it hasn't alternative arrangements would be necessary
for this most perfect of opportunities for integrated green transport.
Tintern Abbey's ancient columns
are shown to good effect in on a warm day in August 2009, 476
years after the Abbey was dissolved.