The Railway Series
The ridge’s ancient name is Dreeym-y-Deighan, but since the building of the railway the English translation has come into common use. It is a bleak spot, open to every wind that blows, and only when winds are light or moderate are trains allowed to cross it. The weather up here is so suddenly changeable that though it may look fair at Kirk Machan or even Skarloey Road, there is no telling what conditions will be when the train has reached Devil’s Back. Accordingly, tickets for the Summit are always issued on the understanding that the train may be halted here and allowed to go no further.
This proviso applies only to trains carrying fare-paying passengers, but service trains must get through regardless of weather. For instance, Stationmen must get to their places of duty first thing in the morning, as must also the Staff of the Summit Restaurant together with the stores they need for the day, and all must be brought back in the evening. Breakdown and Rescue trains are in the same category. Their urgency demands that they brave anything that the weather can throw at them. Gusts of wind met on Devil’s Back are quite capable of derailing lightly loaded trains. Urgency requires risks to be taken, but these are minimised by careful ballasting. A supply of sandbags is kept for the purpose both at Summit and at Devil’s Back. These when loaded on the "Trucks" help to provide stability in the highest wind.
The Stationman's hut at Devil’s Back is stoutly built and, being set slightly lower than the railway itself, is to some extent sheltered from the prevailing wind. It is not the pleasantest place to be on duty, and a stationmen’s rota ensures that each man Serves here only one week in four.
The place is barren, and often clammy with low cloud. Always, even on the most favourable day, there is wind. It can be felt tugging at the coach as trains cross the ridge, and the contrast on reaching shelter the other side is clearly marked. Once over the ridge the railway twists and turns, gaining height at the expense of mileage, till at last this expedient will no longer serve, and the final gradient seems to rear up ahead into the sky like the wall of a house. Shouting defiance at this obstacle, the engines lift the train up another 600ft in the last half mile. The gradient eases and the rocky skyline dissolves into an extensive view, and the train comes into Summit Station.
It was here that Godred came off the rails, falling into the ravine.
- Its Snowdon Mountain Railway equivalent is Clogwyn.