© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011
Well, I think it was April - it could have been early May.
I seen to recollect that we had planned to follow a
main line steam special. It was cancelled - but having
set a day aside, we decided to have a trip out anyway.
Taking the hill road over the southern Berwyns, we
dropped down to Bala Lake, to see what was going on
there, on the 2' gauge Bala Lake Railway. I had hoped one
of that line's Hunslet quarry locos might have been out, or
perhaps one of the industrial diesels - it was neither. The
illustrated "Meirionydd" was built in 1973 by Severn-Lamb, as a
sort-of "Western" replica. I can think of several possible
alternative names - "Western Imposter" perhaps? Suffice it to say,
we didn't hang around.
Taking to the hills once more, we headed for Blaenau Ffestiniog,
and as frequently happens when I head that way, the clouds
gathered.... A lengthy train stood in the (old) station, headed by
a class 25 and 40 029 - an excursion perhaps? Both locomotives
were shut down, and there was no-one around. Just beside the
station, Festiniog Railway "Princess" stood on a plinth, a
reminder of the line's intention to return to Blaenau. The state
of the trackbed suggested that that objective was still some way
Dropping down the valley, we took the road towards Beddgelert,
stopping briefly at Tan-y-Bwlch, where Hunslet "Blanch" called
with a down (literally) train. Also resident here was Motor-
Rail "Mary Ann". Built in 1917 for war service, the identity
of this armour-plated locomotive is slightly uncertain.
Apparently it carries MR works no. 507, but is thought to
be no. 596. An interesting survivor anyway!
Our ultimate destination was Llanberis, to have a look at
the railways there. We started with the Snowdon Mountain
Railway, where no. 7 "Aylwin" was in steam and ready to
work the next train, and no. 6 "Padarn" descended with a
returning train from Snowdon. No. 7 was renamed "Ralph Sadler"
a year or two later, and currently bears the name "Ralph".
Lastly we made our way to the Llanberis Lake Railway, across on
the other side of the valley. There was nothing going on here (I
suspect it may have been rather late in the day - I can't
remember) - so after a look around the museum and a few
snaps, we set off home again. If anyone knows the identity of
the Motor-Rail illustrated (right), I'd be grateful. Also illustrated
- one of the long-disused inclines to the slate workings. I could
see no sign of it when I revisited the site in July 2000
Bala Lake Railway
Snowdon Mountain Railway
Llanberis Lake Railway