Sunday 5 August 2012

24: Conwy, Caernarfon and Cable Haulage

Hello, and a welcome to edition 24 of the Railwaymedia blog. 
With a few days in North Wales on a family holiday due this week, it was a coincidence that last week I made a visit to the same area. Regular followers of the blog will note my attempt to get round all the Wetherspoons pubs. So far I'm up to 238 out of 862, so I've a long way to go yet! For any similarly sad individuals who fancy this challenge, a really good list of them all can be found HERE. There were still 4 I needed to visit at the western end of the North Wales coast, so the steam hauled 'Welsh Mountaineer' was an excuse to mix a little drinking with some photography.

I started off catching the Llandudno train to Deganwy, a request stop midway along the branch from Llandudno Junction. I hadn't previously taken a picture of the signal box nor the station there, so the half an hour wait for a Blaenau Ffestiniog train was ideal for this purpose.

The Conwy Valley line is a branch I have never ever photographed before, indeed I've not even travelled on it since childhood, so I wasn't familiar with any locations. Having a pictorial book about the line at home helped, though I didn't know how much any of the locations would have changed. The book appears to be out of print but if you can get hold of a copy it is an excellent publication.

One location from it that caught my eye was a bridge over the river south of Llanwrst. It looked about 2 miles from the station on the map so, given the weather forecast, I was expecting to get wet. It turned out though that the morning was actually quite bright meaning the shot I had seen in the book was wrong for the light. I had plenty of time though to cross to the other side of the line between the southbound unit passing over and it and the steam special coming up the valley.

With the morning taken up basically getting this shot, I planned to spend the afternoon visiting the Wetherspoons I needed in Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Bangor and Caernarfon. I required a bus ticket to reach Caernarfon, and anyway it was 3 hours until the next train, so I wandered back to Llanwrst for the bus to Llandudno. I had intended to go up the Great Orme tramway but noticing a good connection at Conwy onto a Holyhead train, I changed plans and went to Caernarfon first.

The bus to there stops more or less outside Bangor station and I only had a few minutes to wait, so it worked out well. Even better was as I was finishing my beer in Caernarfon I looked up the Welsh Highland Railway timetable and noticed a departure in 10 minutes. There are only 3 through trains daily from Portmadog, even in mid-summer, so despite the now torrential rain I made the effort to try and get a shot of one leaving. Not a fantastic shot, but the engine is beneath all the steam somewhere!
The beer I had in the Caernarfon Wetherspoons incidentally was a new brewery for me, Big Bog, which is brewed at the Snowdonia Brew Pub next to the Welsh Highland station of Waunfawr. I have every intention of both visiting there and getting more West Highland pictures next week. No doubt the next blog will contain all the details! Hopefully the weather will be better...

So back to Bangor and it turned out I had already been to the Wetherspoons there back in 2004 when the Manchester to Holyhead was still loco-hauled. I suspected this was the case but couldn't say for definite until I walked in the pub. I'm guessing it was on the day I took this picture of 47853.

Having just missed the bus to Llandudno, a quick change of plan meant a train instead to Llandudno Junction for a bus to the town. I actually was overtaken on the bus by the one I missed at Bangor! It was almost 6pm when I got to the Great Orme Tramway so managed just a shot of the last departure and arrival from the Victoria station at the bottom of the lower half of the tramway.

The Great Orme Tramway is rope hauled and operates in two halves, each with two cars, there being a passing loop at the midway point on each section. How it works exactly is detailed on their website. The bottom section contains the only bit of cable-worked tramway in Britain operating along the road as it climbs up Old Road. Lower section tram 5 is seen below descending to the terminus.

And so it was just a matter of the two pubs in Llandudno and Colwyn Bay before heading back. A long day with not too many pictures, but I managed what I wanted to achieve. As mentioned, the next blog will no doubt contain details of more pictures from North Wales, where I hope to get some shots of a few of the Great Little Trains of Wales, all of which I require to photograph.

Once again thanks for reading, all the pictures from the day detailed above can be found HERE. I have changed the way my galleries display so any feedback about the new 'journal' format would be very welcome, whether you find the new style an improvement or not.

With the Olympics in full swing in London, and elsewhere, my initial reluctance to get excited about it is slowly changing given our recent successes in the medal tables. Having been given some tickets to watch the football at Old Trafford I went to watch Spain play Morocco. What I expected to be a one-sided affair turned out to be a pretty even match, and I was willing Morocco to win by the end, although it ended 0-0. Last time I watched a football match it was Manchester City at Maine Road and that's been closed almost 10 years! Please look out for edition 25 in a week or so, bye for now.

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