Monday, 22 March 2010
In many parts of the country, the twin towns of Lynton and Lynmouth would probably have merged into one urban sprawl by now. Indeed, the horizontal distance between them is very little - but Lynton is 500ft higher, up a very steep hillside.
Thankfully (to save our legs) the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway runs a tiny train line between the two towns:
This is a train like none I've seen before. It was built in Victorian times and has run up and down the hillside, several times a day, ever since. It has tracks, but it also has cables to pull the carriages up.
When the train runs, one carriage goes up while the other goes down. The tracks spread apart a little in the middle to allow them to pass one another.
The most interesting feature (in my opinion, at least) is the method of power. The train is green in more ways than one, because it's powered by water! In the space underneath each carriage is a large water tank, which is filled at the top, and emptied at the bottom. When the brakes are taken off, the weight difference causes one carriage to slide down the tracks, winching the other one up.
It also moves surprisingly fast... you expect it to be a slow, gentle ride but it whooshes up the hillside. Definitely a fun way of getting from A to B.