When I was a kid I loved going to Lynton & Lynmouth so that we could ride the world’s highest and steepest fully water powered railway.
The famous Lynton and Lynmouth funicular Cliff Railway opened in 1890 and is the highest and the steepest totally water powered railway in the world! This historic funicular Cliff Railway connects the twin towns of Lynton and Lynmouth providing stunning coastal views. This working heritage railway is grade II listed, the UK’s only fully water powered railway and one of just three examples left in the World!
If you are not aware of how these things work, then let me enlighten you. The railway consists of two cars, each capable of transporting 40 passengers, joined by a continuous cable running around a 5 ft 6 in (1.676 m) pulley at each end of the incline. The cable below the upper car counterbalances that supporting the lower car, which weighs several tons, thereby keeping the two sides in equilibrium, +/- the weight of the water.
Water feeds through 5-inch (127 mm) pipes from the West Lyn River — over 1 mile (1.6 km) away — into tanks under the floor of the upper car. Each car has a 700-imperial-gallon (3,182 L; 841 US gal) tank mounted between the wheels. Water is discharged from the lower car, until the heavier top car begins to descend, with the speed controlled by a brakeman travelling on each car.
The parallel 3 ft 9 in (1,143 mm) gauge tracks (which bow out at the centre point, to allow the cars to pass) rise 500 feet (152.4 m) and are 862 feet (262.7 m) long, giving the line a gradient of 1:1.724 (58%).
Needless to say, this was a highlight of every trip to Lynton. But rather than look out at the incredible scenery, I always look down/up the track to see the other car approaching, and as it passes, wave, then carry on watching to where we are headed.
Here is a very short video I shot of the car arriving in Lynmouth from Lynton. You can see the green water tank under the carriage.
Just a few photos from our visit to Lynton & Lynmouth