Monday 28 June 2010

Rheilffordd Ffestiniog

I think I confused a couple of people. When I say 'I'm still in North Wales', I should really say that my blog is still in North Wales; term has not yet ended here and I'm firmly stuck at home & work for another 4 weeks. The current pics are from last year. I began by telling a story about Yr Wyddfa and then just continued in Wales, which is a place I love!

My blog (and me in my head) is still firmly on the Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway which, after crossing the Cob and passing the engineering works at Boston Lodge, turns away from the sea and follows the line of the Afon Goedol, climbing steadily as it goes.

In total, the track climbs over 700 feet along its thirteen and a half mile length, including turning a complete spiral at Dduallt, purely in order to gain height. For a lot of its distance, the railway clings to the edge of the mountainside but towards the top, it passes through a number of short tunnels.

The railway is mainly single track, but the stations at Minffordd, Tan-y-Bwlch and Tan-y-grisiau allow up and down trains to pass. Tan-y-Bwych is also a water stop for up trains.

Just before the terminus at Blaenau Ffestiniog is the village of Tan y grisiau, with the hydro-electric power station fed by the waters of Llyn Ystradau. This was constructed in 1957 by the Central Electricity Generating Board and the creation of the lake caused the flooding of part of the railway track.

When the Ffestiniog Railway Company restored and re-opened the line, a deviation had to be built to skirt the shores of the lake. The line of the old trackbed is still visible, disappearing into the water and re-emerging to approach the mouth of the now plugged Old Moelwyn Tunnel.

'Tan y grisiau', is Welsh for "below the steps"; the steps being the stepped slate mine workings up the side of the mountain. On Christmas day 1918, the mine workings collapsed. Disaster was avoided only because all of the village were in chapel. An hour earlier, there would have been many hundreds of miners crushed under the fall of rocks.  

Approaching Blaenau, slate built Welsh cottages crowd the line, their gardens adding a little splash of colour to a very grey, slate dominated landscape...

and waterfalls tumble down the steep hillsides within a few feet of the carriages...

until the train reaches the top of the line.

If you are particularly interested in steam railways, especially the narrow gauge variety, you may like to look at the Rheilffordd Ffestiniog website.

And if you ever visit Wales, I would strongly recommend a ride; though you my prefer to park in Bleanau and travel downhill first. There's more to do during a stop off in Porthmadog.


  1. Glad you cleared up the confusion! I was wondering how my workmate had a wonderful dry sunny week in Harlech when your campsite was flooded!

  2. I'm going off to look at the website - have a travel friend who is mad about trains!

  3. Lovely scenery photos! And what a great little train. I did a drawing order for a customer (she did not have a photo, but said any steam engine would do) way back before we had the internet, so I found an old steam engine in a library book. She gave the drawing to her elderly father, who had long since been retired from working all his life with trains. Later, she told me that the drawing was of the very first and the same, exact steam engine that her father had started working with when he was a very young man! That was such an awesome coincidence!

    Blessings & aloha!
    (thank you for stopping by! When my hubby was an active duty military man, we did move around every 3 years. My hubby is retired from the Army now, so we won't move again with the military. But we, eventually, do want to move to Kentucky, where our grown children are.)