Bigger toys

My old friend Colin and I made a trip to Blaenau Ffestiniog on Monday, given that we are both railway enthusiasts you’d be forgiven for thinking we were interested in the railway that the town is famous for.

OK, so maybe we were, but the main purpose of the visit was for the railway it connects with at the other end.

As the day progressed the weather did too. While the rest of Britain baked in the sun Wales was exactly as I remember it from childhood! As a child I used to play on the trackbed of the Welsh Highland Railway near Beddgelert.

I am pretty sure that nobody in those days would have dreamt of seeing huge steam locos pulling long trains over that trackbed, but that is exactly what Colin and I visited on Tuesday, starting our epic steam hauled journey at Blaenau behind the brand new replica of Lyd.

The WHR is the only place in the UK where you’ll find a train snaking round hairpin bends to climb a hillside and the scenery it does it through is well worth a few hours of anybody’s time, whether they like trains or not.

A word of warning though, look out for dragons lurking beneath the benches!

I do my best to educate Star on the finer points of being a train nut’s dog, but she still doesn’t seem to appreciate riding on slow trains over uneven track, she’s young yet though, so I’ll make allowances.

We got back to Blaenau on the last train of the day, which was on time when it arrived so the crew had time to do a bit of polishing before they took it back to Portmadoc.

On Wednesday we caught an early bus to Minffordd from where we got a train to Machynlleth and from there to Wolverhampton, where we parted company, Colin heading south for Bristol and me north to Crewe.

On arrival at Crewe I noticed there was a connection due out for Sandbach, so I decided to save the bus fare in exchange for the walk from my station to home. As the train approached Sandbach it passed a freight on the slow lines, then rocked over the junction at Sandbach to come to a halt in platform three… On the slow line… In front of the freight! I waited to see the spectacle of the freight train being switched onto the fast line through the station to overtake the passenger but was disappointed to see that a Vermin Pendolino had been following the local and batted through at speed.

The local was allowed back onto the main a couple of minutes later and I waited on the footbridge for the freight to follow it. A bit different from the diesel hauled freight train in the previous photo!

A very enjoyable few days, good company with my old mate, good beer in the Gwesty Ty Gorsaf at Blaenau, a superb out and back trip over both the Festiniog Railway and the Welsh Highland Railway, topped off with taking the scenic route home via the Cambrian Coast line.


About Bob Hughes

Ex railwayman, life long railway modeller, lover of real ale and spicy food.
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