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  • Writer's pictureCymdeithas Aberaeron Society

Gwynne Griffiths: The Spring Experiences along the Aberaeron Railway Path (2011)

The Aberayron and Lampeter Railway was opened in 1911 but for economical reasons was finally closed in 1965. The passenger service had been discontinued earlier in 1951.

The creation of the walking and cycle pathway along the old railway track by the County Council has proved to be a great success as a public amenity. It attracts a diversity of users including walkers, joggers, runners (including an Olympic athlete and a number of marathon participants) dog walkers and workers, voluntary assistants and visitors walking to Llanerchaeron to work or to pursue a leisure activity.

As part of the centenary celebration of the opening of the Aberayron Railway, a land train was introduced to transport visitors to Llanerchaeron and its rail halt. This innovative action resulted in attracting many new and regular users to the pathway. It would appear that its regular users come from a catchment area that stretches from New Quay in the south, Llanon in the north and Felinfach in the east.

This past winter has been most severe and probably the coldest we have had for decades. Frequently the morning temperature had been well below 10c with the river in places being largely covered with ice. The strangest feeling we detected was that there was very little movement to see neither on or near the pathway; no rabbits or squirrels would be seen whilst the sheep, in adjoining fields, were sheltering in the hedges and the tack horses sheltering under the trees in the forest nearby. Even the birds, probably in their search for food, had immigrated to the gardens of the houses bordering along Lampeter Road. The availability of peanuts and the different seeds appeared to have been in great demand by robins, blue tits, long-tailed tits, treecreepers, chaffinchs, blackbirds, starlings and a family of great spotted Woodpeckers. One morning four large pheasants were having a breakfast on the back lawn at Glyndwr!!

A late spring brought with it a welcome change in climate with an extended warm and dry period. This resulted with new life with great growth and activity. First was growth of the trees – the buds of the leaves of the willow were the first followed by the catkins on the hazel and the white blackthorn flowers.

This year we have been blessed with a great blanket of flower colour. First a great cover of the snowdrops, and as these began to finish they were replaced by daffodils and in particular the Welsh dwarf daffodils with their distinctive clear yellow colour. Next we were presented with a mass of different colours – with the white of the wood anemone, the yellow of the celandines and the paler shade of the yellow primroses. As these were beinning to go to seed, new but very different types of flowers emerged – the white flowers of the wild garlic (which is still used by some of the best kitchens in Aberaeron) and the deep blue colour of the bluebells. By the end of April the mass of colour was beginning to fade with the exception of maroon wild orchids, the red campions and the different shades of the green vegetation.

A further change was in the activity of the birds – building their nests whilst the songs of the birds was a joy to all our ears. Others, such as the woodpeckers and the pheasants were producing their own particular noises!

Additionally mallard and the occasional heron and cormorant were seen fishing in the Aeron. The small trout were also busy jumping up and out of the water in attempts to catch the many flies flying near the river surface. Animals in the fields adjoining the pathway were also very active; many lambs were continuing to jump about, a Welsh Cob produced a foal, rabbits were busy eating fresh grass, squirrels (grey) looking for their store of the nuts, snakes (particularly adders) becoming a little restless and the tadpoles fighting for their existence in a decreasing size of the pond. Undoubtedly, this last spring was one of activity, development and creativity with new life regenerated. It provided us, users of the pathway, with the opportunity to experience all the various stimuli from the environment. What a great amenity! For a minimal maintaining cost it has undoubtedly contributed to enhance the quality of the life of all the users of the old railway track pathway.

Whilst the demise of the Aberayron to Lampeter Railway was regrettable (its fate was inevitable) it has, however, left its own memorial – the Aberaeron Path and Cycleway.



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