A Week in and Around Llangollen.

DAY 1 Autumn Steam Gala on The Llangollen Railway.
The heavy rain of Saturday had at last abated by the time we arrived at Llangollen Station in good time for the first train. This being the autotrain (with `Pannier Tank` No. 6430 built by the GWR) was handy as I had wanted to photograph it in preparation for modelling later; views from the bridge over the line providing those often difficult-to-come-by views of the top of the locomotive.
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Time was taken to photograph the surroundings of this lovely station setting as well; the sun even came out (briefly)!
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On the journey up to Berwyn I was also able to photograph the driver in action in the carriage with a view up the line through the front windows as we approached the outer reaches of what is perhaps the loveliest station in the country.
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The remainder of the day was spent traveling up and down the line, obtaining pictures of trains as they passed through each station. Of particular note was the L&YR Class 27 0-6-0 No. 1300 (here in the guise of No. 12322 of the LMS) - one of 484 members of the class eventually built at Horwich from 1889 but still very much in use in the summer of 1960 by BR.
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This was an excellent day out in a lovely line; we shall return next Spring...

Day Two Chirk Castle and Horseshoe Falls.
As the day began dull and a bit rainy (no surprise there) we decided to visit Chirk Castle (National Trust) and had a pleasant morning exploring the castle and surrounding woodland: this will be worth re-visiting in the Autumn I suspect as the woodlands contain an excellent mixture of species.

The sun had emerged by the afternoon (with temperatures reaching a muggy high of 24 degrees Celsius) so we finished the day by driving to the Horseshoe Falls for a sunny view of this famous landmark which Telford built as a water supply to the canal network.
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Day Three A Walk Along the Llangollen Canal.
The weather forecast was for sunny periods... In reality, the conditions were dull and muggy so photography was not ideal. The walk from Pontcysyllte Aquaduct to Llangollen is a pleasent 4 miles of perfectly level walking as the canal is a contour waterway. As the lighting was far from ideal I shall use pictures obtained in the past on sunnier days - the place has not changed in many years of course and now that this area is a World Heritage Site its future should be secure from any `improvement`. Even the lifting bridge remains (albeit in a modern form) where a tramway once crossed the canal to a mill in the lower valley.
photo to follow
The canal is very narrow in places due to the anticipated low traffic volumes and great engineering challenges presented by the building of a canal so high above the valley floor and often through hard rocky outcrops. It is ironic I think that this short length of canal is now so popular with canal-users...

The wharf at Llangollen is an excellent place to rest awhile and a small museum describes the history of the town here.

On returning to the aqueduct I purchased the excellent book by Peter Watkins about the canal and aqueduct which provided a fascinating insight into the building and operation of this famous part of our canal network.
Day Four Pontcysyllte Aquaduct and other Landmarks of the Llangollen Canal.
We returned to Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to descend to the River Dee and obtain views of the aqueduct from below and of the elegant railway viaduct overlooking Ty Mawr Country Park.
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Upon returning to the canal (and a much-needed cuppa) we then set off over the aqueduct towards Whitehouse Tunnel. The canal is high above the valley floor here and would provide excellent views of the railway viaduct if it were not for the mature trees (planted by the navigators to stabilize the earth workings) that block the view - a tad frustrating really.
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On returning to the car at Pontcysllte we then drove the short distance to Chirk and sought-out views of Chirk Aqueduct and tunnel. This spot is as picturesque as the the more famous aqueduct and provided some nice shots.
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Day Five A Rainbow, a Castle, and an Abbey.
The early rain had cleared by the time we parked at Llangollen and we were treated to some lovely clear views of 13 Century ruins of Castell Dinas Bran as we crossed the canal and climbed the well-marked path to the hilltop.
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It briefly looked as though the capricious Welsh weather would get the last laugh as we approached the summit but the rainstorm swept past and provided wonderful views of a full rainbow across the valley towards the cliffs of Eglwyseg.
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On descending the hill we then walked along the base of the cliffs towards Valle Crucis Abbey.
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The walk then continued over velvet Hill to the Horseshoe falls where we detoured to Llantisilo Church - open to visitors even in these times of vandalism. The interior includes a wonderful wooden roof and some impressive windows - the most recent being from around 1970.

The Railway was not to be outdone however and provided a last view of the train pulling out of Berwyn Station.
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A final amble along the Llangollen Canal past Chain Bridge to Llangollen then remained.

Day Six. An Exciting Day of Discovery.
The Glyn Valley Tramway carried people and minerals from Glyn Ceiriog to Chirk but was abandoned in 1935. I had always assumed nothing remained of the tramway or its associated mineral branches etc. Earlier attempts to get hold of J. Milner`s books on the subject had also failed...
This morning however, following advice from many helpful locals, we tracked down (pun intended - sorry) the section of tramway owned by the National Trust and were able to easily walk up this as far as the Hendre Granite Quarry, passing the remains of the old Gunpowder Works on the way. I now have many photographs to aid modelling of the tramway in this area - yet another project for all those idle days I had expected to have upon retirement....
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And to cap it all, I have now ordered the much-sought-after Part One of the Glyn Valley tramway history (second hand) which I missed a few years ago!
This is all very exciting - trouble is, I now have to decide whether to choose Llangollen/Berwn/autotrain or the GVT or Modern Outline models now I have also discovered a book by Ian Allan Publishers that includes 50 diagrams of modern rolling stock - something I had also searched for for several years!
Decisions; decisions!

Hi ho....

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