A Couple of Weeks on and Around The Talyllyn Railway

The Gal-y-llyn Railway was built to a gauge of two feet three inches to carry slate (as was the case of several other lines in Wales) from Bryn Eglwys Quarry, down the Father Valley to the Cambrian 'main' line in Tywyn. Just four carriages and two locomotives were obtained by Sir Haydn Jones to operate the line and they survived until closure (although in a terrible dilapidated state) until the closure of the quarry (and subsequently the line) in 1949. The rest, as they say, is history...

We now have the glorious opportunity to travel the seven and a half miles from Tywyn (Wharf) Station to Nant Gwernol on the first railway to be saved and run by volunteer enthusiasts anywhere in the World. I commend the reader to the many books that may be obtained about this unique example of industrial and social history that may be purchased from the StationShop - not Amazon please...

Furthermore, just once a week in Summer we can travel in a train comprised of the four ORIGINAL carriages with the original guards/ticket van behind one of the original locomotives; presently Talyllyn or No.1. No-where else in the World can one travel in such old original carriages as these - they even have cushions on the seats now...

So, gentle reader, with guide book purchased from the shop and membership (purchased before arrival by email or phone surely!) card safely in one's pocket, let us commence our Railway Adventure!

(Note that a fee ride on the Ffestiniog railway may be had with the membership card - that is a huge saving as well).

Locomotive Number One awaits the 'Right Away' at Wharf Station.
Tea must first be finished of course...

The first 'regular' station to be reached in at the lovely hamlet of Rhydyronen (where walks into the gentle rolling hills beyond the line may be begun). Here we see Edward Thomas drawing into the station viewed from the road bridge. This fine old gentleman in an ex-Corris locomotive bought by the first preservationists for £50 - a lot of money back then!

Rhydyron Station awaits the arrival of Edward Thomas.

Talyllyn reverses his train from the station - so we can take another photograph....
After rocking alone the line for a while we come to perhaps the most beautiful station on the line at Dolgoch Falls. Here our Victorian Train Special has reversed back over the imposing viaduct so we may take a photograph...
On other days one must visit the 'falls - a day after heavy rain is best perhaps.

Dolgoch Viaduct from the photographer's view-point.

Dolgoch Falls.122bb_744
Dolgoch Falls - Lower Cascade.
BUT HANG ON A MINUTE!  Time warp!!!!!!!

On just these special occasions the unique (naturally) old water tower is to be employed to quench our venerable locomotive's thirst (and to wash the driver's trousers). 

Don't worry; there is plenty of water here...

Nearly full now!

And so onwards up the lovely Fathew Valley until we reach what used to be the end of the line for passengers - Abergynolwyn - with it's improbably long platform (homework - find out why) and a rather fine Tea Room built from the slate of toehold winding drum house that once served the village far below in the valley. This is where passages once had to alight until the mineral extension was built to Nant Gwernol at the foot of the first incline that was once used to carry slate down from the quarry high in the hills beyond here.

One might choose to walk to the lovely ruins of a local castle from here with fine views of Birdrock, or one might hold on tight (there are some pretty impressive curves up ahead) and proceed to Nant Gwernol safe in the knowledge that the train will return to Uber' soon and wait while passengers have a nice 'cuppa' and some home-made cake in theta-room. This is a REQUIRED activity...
In the next photograph we see Tom Role enter the station (homework - why is he called Tom Rolt - canal enthusiast will know that name)?

Tom Rolt (No.7) enters Want Gwernol around the last curve.

Now; do you have a camera? 

If so, there is a tradition to be observed here...

One must exit the carriage (WHEN IT HAS STOPPED) and head for the front of train at speed (DON'T RUN) to capture the ritual of un-coupling and pulling forward to the foot of the incline; reversing around the carriages and finally coupling to the 'down' end. Photographs must be obtained of each of the four key stages!


Drat! Not quick enough! Not getting any younger you know - and people will insist on getting in the way...
So here is Edward Thomas on another occasion-

Edward Thomas prepares to return to Abergynolwyn and that piece of cake.
So all that remains is for me to point out that there are several lovely walks to be had from Nant Gwernol (one might even walk back to Abergynolwyn perhaps, crossing the line for another photo-opportunity) including a stiff climb up to the remains of the quarry itself: all well sign-posted of course.

The Quarry.
So there we have it; a memorable trip on a lovely old train operated by friendly people (all volunteers) and great walking as well. A week is easily filled and don't worry about the weather as the waterfalls and locomotives look best when it rains anyway! Note however that in very heavy rain we were once offered a bucket as we sat in the open carriage....
Just click on any of the above photographs to be transferred to my Flickr Feed where other images may be perused.

So, what next?
Ah yes - Cadair Idris....

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