Petit Train de la Rhune
The Petit Train de la Rhune takes passengers on a journey of two-and-a-half miles to the summit of La Rhune Mountain - climbing through the Western Pyrenees, and overcoming a height difference of 2,415ft during the trip.
We begin our journey on the rack-and-pinion railway in the town of Col de Saint-Ignace, situated close to the Spanish border. From here the preserved train - with wooden carriages dating back to the 1920s - begins its steep climb, ascending from the town centre and along a wooden hillside. The electric-powered train then turns into a steep-sided rocky valley to continue its ascent.
The scenery along this stretch of the track is breathtaking; here there is a wide-ranging view of the foothills of the smaller mountains, in addition to the rolling meadows sloping away from them. The line passes through a small forest, then begins to meander to cope with the increasingly steep gradient. The landscape takes on a rockier and arid appearance as the train reaches the passing loop, permitting oncoming trains to descend safely.
As the line climbs ever higher, the tracks incorporate yet more twists and turns to gain height, before ultimately arriving at the peak of La Rhune. Situated at the official border between France and Spain, the mountain is almost 3,000ft above sea level, and as a result it offers a tremendous panorama over the surrounding mountains and the Bay of Biscay.