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.
Later on Monday morning, we travelled by train from Betws-y-Coed.
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.
Next to the station is the railway museum with this miniature steam train.
The trains on this remote line up the Conwy and Lledr valleys have recently been taken
over by these fairly smart Class 150 DMUs.
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.
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.
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.
Lucy on board Russell at Porthmadog station
Lucy enjoying her footplate pass.
Running round at the current northern terminus of the Porthmadog end of the line.
And now Stephen's turn
Re-coupling after running round at Porthmadog
A view from the window as we we wait at Tan-y-Bwlch to pass a train coming down
The 1515 from Blaenau Ffestiniog, double-headed
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.
The embankment of the earlier route parallels the new, higher route, as they make their
way towards the old and new Moelwyn tunnels.
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.
Our train, the 1600 Porthmadog-Blaenau Ffestiniog, nears its destinations, with the huge
mountains of waste slate coming into view.
At Blaenau, our loco for the afternoon runs around ready to take the 1730 back to
Big and little, both preparing to depart for north and south respectively