After taking the Narrow Planet sales stand to the 009 Society AGM at Rainford in Merseyside, Tom and I spent an enjoyable week with a couple of other friends in north Wales, staying in Llan Ffestiniog. Enjoyable, despite the rain, fog and cold weather which seem to have been standard so far this year across the country. And the endless roadworks on the A470. Because after all, as long as the narrow gauge trains are running then who cares?
Here’s a quick run-down of what we got up to.
Actually not too wet, and a drive over to Llanfair Caereinion for a ride on the W&L. Our train was hauled by Resita No. 19 which is looking and sounding good after some recent work.
At Welshpool we found that the sheds were open, allowing a close-up look at Monarch and Sir Drefaldwyn in storage. Quite a lot of ‘measurement by iPhone’ would go on during the week…
A ride on the Ffestiniog, the way up was fairly sunny but the clouds descended as soon as we were through Moelwyn tunnel and came back down with us all the way to Boston Lodge where we alighted for a pre-arranged tour of the works and sheds.
“Blodge” is a busy place and there was a lot to look at, and thanks to the FR for letting us look around.
The weather cleared up again later on, so on the way to visit John Wooden near Llanberis we stopped off for a walk around Dinorwic quarry. With tips and inclines looming out of the mists it was very atmospheric and made us want to return for a more in-depth exploration another time.
Another drive, this time down to Aberystwyth where we caught the morning departure on the Vale of Rheidol by the skin of our teeth. I hadn’t been on this railway for around 20 years and wasn’t sure what to expect, but the views were spectacular and lot of work is going into restoring the old halts along the line.
Afterwards we met up with Neil Rushby at the Corris Railway, where he is part of the team working on beautiful replicas of the original railway’s carriages. He was kind enough to give us a tour of the works and planned extension at Maespoth, and the small museum at Corris itself.
Staying local again, we first went to see the morning FR & WHR departures at Porthmadog Harbour before heading over to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway for a good look around the museum.
There’s a lot of stuff packed into Gelert’s Farm now, including some recently arrived stock from the sadly closed Abbey Light Railway, and plenty of measurements were taken for future projects.
In the afternoon, we were foolhardy enough to brave the semi-open coach on the Welsh Highland, travelling up the line as far as Rhyd Ddu to swap on to the return service. The weather meant the views weren’t up to much, and the experience through the long Aberglaslyn tunnel behind a Garratt in a coach with no windows was “interesting” to say the least.
However the steak in Spooners afterwards made up for that!
Final day on the rails, and a visit to the Talyllyn Railway which was a first time for me. Not sure how its evaded me this long, as its a wonderful little line and very friendly. We had some Narrow Planet stock to drop off for the shop, and on the way back down alighted at Pendre for a visit to the sheds. Again thank you to the Talyllyn for their help and making us feel very welcome.
We rounded the week off with a call in to Tan-y-Bwlch to see the last down train of the day, and then a pie and a pint in the Oakley Arms ahead of the long drive home the next morning.