The Talyllyn Railway and its Royal connections
Spectacular scenery from the mountains to the coast and an
abundance of things to see and do. Travel editor, David Powell visits The
Talyllyn Railway in Snowdonia.
Covering approximately 840 square miles, the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales is truly an area of outstanding natural beauty. There are unsurpassed views, mountain ranges, with Snowdon peaking at 1085m, mountain railways, historic castles, beautiful coastal towns and villages, wonderfully restored ‘Little Trains of Wales’, woodland parks and the slate heritage of days gone by. For the more adventurous there are pursuits such as rock climbing, hiking and mountain biking. There’s great locally sourced food and a wide variety of accommodation choice.
On my recent visit to Snowdonia I was able to experience
some of the excellent attractions this region has to offer, including a day at
the Talyllyn Railway.
I travelled from my base at the Portmeirion Village and
Hotel down the coast to Tywyn. It was here I found the historic, steam operated
railway and met the friendly volunteer staff.
A ride from Tywyn Wharf station into the Snowdonia
countryside was a fantastic day out, and highly recommended! The railway was
originally built by the Victorians to carry passengers and slate from the slate
quarry, and opened in 1865. However, like many narrow gauge railways after the
demise of the slate industry, the Talyllyn Railway fell into serious disrepair
in the 1940’s. Luckily a group of enthusiasts got together in 1950 and the
Talyllyn Railway became the first railway in the world to be preserved, a fact
that the Talyllyn team are very proud of.
Imagine this - wonderful steam locomotives pulling
beautifully restored carriages that take you on a leisurely steam journey
through unspoilt Snowdonia with the chance to stop for a lovely walk and
From Wharf Station I caught the 11am train, right on time.
Sitting in an expertly restored first class Pullman Coach I now definitely felt
as if I had travelled back in time! My journey took me through spectacular
scenery and places with wonderful sounding names like Tadpole Cutting, Six
Bends, Broadwater and Dolgoch Falls, where the mountain peak of Cader Idris can
be briefly viewed. Not as high as Snowdon, but a wonderful sight nevertheless.
The Dolgoch Falls are in fact three sets of waterfalls and it’s here the train
takes on mountain water for its onward journey into the beautiful Nant Gwernol
Since the 1950’s its many volunteers who come from all walks
of life have put a remarkable amount of hard work into the railway. No special
skills are required, just interest and enthusiasm, as full training is given
for the tasks that members choose. The dedication of the volunteers and the
raising of necessary funds over the years have resulted in a wonderful
preserved railway experience.
Extensive renovations completed
In 2005 extensive building work was finally completed.
Buildings had been renovated, new platforms and a refreshment room constructed.
A narrow gauge museum was also built at the end of the platform and this now
houses some amazing exhibits and modern interpretive displays telling the story
of Talyllyn and many other railways. The museum has a special section dedicated
to Thomas The Tank Engine, whose creator Rev. W. Awdry was one of the pioneer
Talyllyn volunteers. The new buildings were officially opened by HRH the Prince
of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in July 2005.
In total the railway has an astounding 23 carriages, 6 steam
locomotives and 4 diesels and operate a daily service. All the passenger trains
are steam hauled and every aspect of this fascinating railway, together with
timetables, can be seen on their website www.talyllyn.co.uk
Riding the footplate!
During my journey I was privileged to ride part of the way
on the locomotive footplate - a sensational experience! I was also able to view
one of the secure signal boxes where all train movements on the single-track
line are safely monitored. The
Talyllyn Railway offers members of the public the opportunity to drive one of
its historic steam locomotives, which would make a great gift for a special
occasion. Contact one of the Talyllyn team for more information on this.
When visiting Snowdonia I would urge you to experience the
sights, sounds and all the dedication and professionalism this preserved railway has to offer. Perhaps you
could keep a lookout for the Corris Railway Coach, which Diana, Princess of Wales
travelled in during a visit to the railway in 1982.
For further information on the attractions of Snowdonia you
can have a look at the following websites: