6 August 2001

On Monday morning, we went for a walk to the Fairy Glen from our hotel. This is a secluded and enchanting little gorge on the Afon Conwy.

img_0183.jpg (202260 bytes)

Later on Monday morning, we travelled by train from Betws-y-Coed.

img_0192.jpg (121480 bytes)
This single track rural route probably only survived as part of the route to Trawsfynydd nuclear power station, but Betws' railway station is looking remarkably smart.

img_0196.jpg (150187 bytes)
Next to the station is the railway museum with this miniature steam train.

img_0199.jpg (126616 bytes)
The trains on this remote line up the Conwy and Lledr valleys have recently been taken over by these fairly smart Class 150 DMUs.

img_0200.jpg (132292 bytes)
The station, once the site of the GWR terminus on the branch from the Bala line we travelled on Friday, is now shared by the Railtrack and Ffestiniog trains. Here a double Fairlie pulls what will be our train south to the platform.

img_0223.jpg (80538 bytes)
We took the FR all the way down to Porthmadog, seen here from The Cob, an embankment across the estuary of the river Glaslyn.

At Porthmadog, we walked through the town in the rain to the third railway station in this small town (the second being the mainline Railtrack one), currently the terminus of the southern end of the Welsh Highland Railway.

img_0202.jpg (85659 bytes)

The Welsh Highland Railway has an astonishingly convoluted history, the twists and turns lasting from its beginnings in the 1860s to the present day. What became known as the WHR ran from Dinas Junction near Caernarfon to Porthmadog, passing through wonderful scenery to the south of Snowdon. Trains ceased running in 1937, and the track was lifted during the war. Volunteers worked hard from the 1960s for three decades to restore various parts of the line. Although initially not welcomed by some, that effort has now largely been taken over by the Ffestiniog Railway, who have succeeded in relaying track from a new northern terminus at Caernarfon to Waunfawr. Trains are expected to run to Rhyd-Ddu by 2002.

Meanwhile, the volunteer effort has constructed a 3/4-mile section at Porthmadog, which will eventually meet up with the FR section as it heads south. One day the WHR may even again link up with the FR, creating a 38-mile narrow-gauge railway through spectacular scenery.

img_0203.jpg (88695 bytes)
Lucy on board Russell at Porthmadog station

img_0205.jpg (51016 bytes)
Lucy enjoying her footplate pass.

img_0206.jpg (68153 bytes)
Running round at the current northern terminus of the Porthmadog end of the line.

img_0207.jpg (111228 bytes)

img_0210.jpg (60049 bytes)
And now Stephen's turn

img_0215.jpg (129594 bytes)

img_0219.jpg (60665 bytes)
Re-coupling after running round at Porthmadog

img_0224.jpg (94853 bytes)
A view from the window as we we wait at Tan-y-Bwlch to pass a train coming down

img_0225.jpg (154091 bytes)
The 1515 from Blaenau Ffestiniog, double-headed

img_0226.jpg (142266 bytes)

img_0227.jpg (109909 bytes)
The railway crossing itself at Dduallt, the only railway spiral in Britain. Restoration of the Ffestiniog Railway started in 1954 from Porthmadog, but the route north from Dduallt was blocked by the construction of the Tanygrisiau pumped-storage power station and Llyn Ystradau reservoir, which drowned the trackbed.

The solution adopted was to use an alternative route to the west of the reservoir, with the Dduallt spiral being constructed to raise the level of the line, together with a new tunnel. The deviation was opened through to Tanygrisiau in 1978.

img_0228.jpg (121152 bytes)
The embankment of the earlier route parallels the new, higher route, as they make their way towards the old and new Moelwyn tunnels.

img_0229.jpg (64045 bytes)
The entrance of the old Moelwyn tunnel is just visible in the centre of the picture, with the old embankment running in from the right.

img_0235.jpg (82742 bytes)
Our train, the 1600 Porthmadog-Blaenau Ffestiniog, nears its destinations, with the huge mountains of waste slate coming into view.

img_0237.jpg (138131 bytes)
At Blaenau, our loco for the afternoon runs around ready to take the 1730 back to Porthmadog.

img_0239.jpg (67671 bytes)
Big and little, both preparing to depart for north and south respectively



Back Up Next

Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson