Ffestiniog Railway peter's travels

The Ffestiniog Railway is a 2- foot narrow gauge steam railway climbing from the harbour at Porthmadog, Wales, to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The line opened in 1836, originally using gravity to transport slate from the mines to the coast. Later, in the 1860's, it was converted to steam and has been running a fleet that includes double-ended locomotives ever since.

Sea level

We begin at sea level, in the harbour at Porthmadog.

The Ffestiniog Railway shares the harbour station with their other railway, the Welsh Highland Railway.

Harbour Station sits on one end of a mile long embankment called the Cob, which is a dyke built in 1811 to hold back the tide and drain a massive amount of land in the estuary. The Cob was breached by a storm the very next year, and again once or twice in the years since, but it has always been repaired.

Twenty years later, trains appeared on the Cob for the first time. The Cob was Now being used as the end point of the Ffestiniog Railway, bringing prominence to the harbour of Portmadog.

At Harbour Station trains are watered and coaled for both rail lines.

From the station, trains cross the Cob, passing the maintenance yard where rolling stock, including locomotives are built and repaired. Finally, the line passes under the main road and into the Minffordd railway station where it connects with mainline Arriva Trains Wales trains on the spectacular Cambrian Coastal Line. This station is also across the street from the driveway to the village of Portmeirion.

From Minffordd, the train rises through hardwood forests on tracks clinging to the sides of the mountains.

Here, the train is passing over the massive Cei Mawr, a tall, curved, dry stone embankment standing 62 feet above the stream below.

There are limited places two trains can pass on this single track road. Here our train is being passed by a locomotive going the other way.

There isn't a lot of room in a double-ended locomotive, as the cab contains fire boxes for two boilers (one on each end). The driver and the fireman tend to spend much of the trip hanging off the side.

The power station

In the early 1960's, the track was rerouted Into a spiral to raise the track 35 feet so it could pass behind a new power station and its twin reservoirs.

This is the original tunnel. The water is from the power station's reservoir, as the other end is semi-submerged during part of the day.

This reservoir fills during the day as the generators run for peak demand. In off-peak times, the water is pumped to the second reservoir higher above the generating station to store the power for later. It is one method of dealing with solar and wind power's irregular generation cycle.

The train pulls into Blaeneau Ffestiniog.

The terminal at Blaenau Ffestiniog is shared with the mainline Arriva Trains Wales. This line leads to the beaches of the north coast along the Conwy Valley Line.

Schedules and ticket costs are available on their home page.

Historypoints.org contains interesting information on Welsh points of interest. The button below takes you to information about Blaenau Ffestiniog and contains a link to their collection of audio files demonstrating Welsh place name pronunciations, such as Blaenau Ffestiniog.

As we wander the world looking for artifacts, collections, and scenery to photograph, we like to share our experiences. If you liked this one, you'll love our entire series of travel blogs. Check out our web page: www.artifactphoto.ca and look for "Peter's Travels" for our continuing adventures.

Copywrite for this document and all images are owned by Peter S. Cramp of Artifact Photography (a division of 1350286 Ontario Inc.). All rights reserved.

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