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Thread: London to Fort William sleeper train

  1. #31
    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    The Conwy Valley is also highly recommended. You can do a loop around North Wales in summer when the Ffestiniog Railway is running, start at Chester or Shrewsbury then go to Llandudno Jn, Blaenau, Porthmadog, Machynlleth, Shrewsbury and Chester. Lovely scenery, there's a special ticket for it as well.

    And if you're up those parts the newly built Welsh Highland Railway is worth a go, it has a curious European mainline feel to it.
    yes i too can recommend the round robin tour of north wales.

    we last did this 3 years ago.

    we were going to start in chester but actually started just in wales at a place called shittin. we travelled anti-clockwise. first bit along the dee and north wales coast to llandudno junction. down the conway valley line to blaenau ffestiniog with wide views along the conway valley to betws-y-coed and dramatic views thereafter (pont-y-pant, dolwyddelan, roman bridge) to blaenau. change platform to catch the double-fairlie hauled ffestiniog railway to porthmadog harbour. you then have a walk across town to porthmadog station (or you can change directly at minffordd) to catch the cambrian railways train south to barmouth. crossing the mawddach on the famous barmouth bridge it continues on round the coast - fairbourne, llwyngwril, tonfanau, tywyn - to aberdovey. it then heads east to dovey junction then machynlleth, where it hooks up with the train from aberystwyth. it's then a run across mid-wales caersws, newtown and welshpool to shrewsbury. from shrewsbury you head north gobowen, chirk, ruabon, wrexham general to chester and then shittin.

    you can start and finish anywhere on the circuit or from linked stations such as birmingham or liverpool via connections for a little extra. one ticket in one direction. called a ffestiniog round robin ticket from ATW. about 25-30 with a railcard.

    you can do it from milton keynes central if you start at about 6.30 am and don't mind getting home just after midnight!

    you haven't been on a real train until you've done the ffestiniog round robin.

    TM
    Last edited by merryweather; 14-06-2017 at 12:49 AM. Reason: moshi monsters live in a slate mine in ffestiniog
    going...going...still here...just

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to merryweather For This Useful Post:

    Neil Williams (14-06-2017)

  3. #32
    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mang21 View Post
    Shrewsbury to Barmouth (Cambrian Coast line) on a summer Saturday was also one to sort the faint hearted from those made of sterner stuff. Usually rammed full leaving Shrewsbury (lost count of how many times I made that trip sitting on the luggage rack at the end of the carriage) and with it being a single track line, with limited crossing places for trains to pass, any loss of time on either the up or down service meant delaying trains in the other direction, which would then delay the next one each way. By 6pm on a Saturday the cumulative delays up near Barmouth could be quite spectacular. But its also a wonderful run - especially the bit up from Dovey Junction along the coast - just don't look down along the Friog section if you don't have a great head for heights!
    ah the cambrian coast line!

    i don't recall the first time travelling on this line; must have been about 1860 when i was very young. (actually it can't have been then because barmouth bridge wasn't built until 1867! okay so it was 'in days of yore'!) next time we visited the line was about 7/8 years ago.

    we wanted to cycle the mawddach trail and didn't fancy driving the car all the way across east anglia, all the way across the midlands, all the way across.... so we went by train.

    we called in to our nearest mainline station (sort of like manchester piccadilly, but not that station) booking office to sort out the tickets.

    'two tickets (advance) with a bike from home to fairbourne and back and we'd like seats wherever possible please'.

    tried about 5 wednesdays in july and august, no can do. we could get on the train, we could get a seat on trains, but we couldn't get both bikes on the train. in fact they tried almost every day for about 5 weeks and still no can do. very strange.

    until...they realised the problem was shrewsbury to fairbourne, someone had taken the two reserved bike places. disappointed we said our thanks and went to leave but were halted when the ticket guy next door said for his mate to try to book a bike on the route from machynlleth to fairbourne on the days we wanted. that worked! it appeared that two bikes were booked on for aberystwyth and had blocked out the doubled train bit from shrewsbury to machynlleth. all that was needed was to book the shrewsbury to fairbourne bit in two parts: shrewsbury to machynlleth and machynlleth to fairbourne.

    all done, tickets printing...

    1 from home to intermediate station, no seat reservation needed, no bike reservation needed.

    1 from intermediate station to shrewsbury, + 1 for seat reservation, + 1 for bike (on bike), +1 for bike (copy with passenger).

    1 from shrewsbury to machynlleth, no seat reservation, +1 for bike (on bike), +1 for bike (copy with passenger).

    1 from machynlleth to fairbourne, no seat reservation, +1 for bike (on bike), +1 for bike (copy with passenger).

    11 tickets!...for one person...for the outward journey. 22 tickets for one person for return too. 44 tickets for two people return.

    train out on the wednesday were great. no major problems except that it got progressively delayed on the cambrian line arriving 40 minutes late. got to fairbourne in the rain and cycled to our B&B. accommodation was excellent and not too far to ride to mawddach trail. thursday rode the mawddach trail to dolgellau and back in fantastic weather. friday clouded over but still good for a short cycle into barmouth across the bridge and a little further.

    saturday was day of return. train was 15 minutes late into fairbourne. it was packed, not quite indian railways packed but packed nevertheless. bent double with a bike jammed into sensitive body parts and swmbo stuffed unceremoniously into a narrow space on a luggage rack with her bike, i recalled why i had first travelled on the line those many years before - butlins pwllheli - nowadays haven holiday park, iirc. saturday was changeover day and the train was over-packed with people from the west midlands travelling home.

    it was the most horrible train ride ever.

    and it was raining.

    even when we hooked up at machynlleth to the aberystwyth train it got barely any better. by shrewsbury we were wrecked. luckily our train left from platform 4 while everyone else hurried over in the rain to platform 6 for the birmingham train.

    reminder: never travel that route on a saturday. swmbo mentioned travelling the route again only just last week.

    i would agree that the coastal section north of machynlleth must rate as one of the most scenic rail journeys in britain; unless of course you're jammed into a luggage compartment, nearly upside down, with a bike pump poking into a sensitive area of the groin, wet, tired, and in the company of a hundred or more screaming jasper carrots!

    TM
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  4. #33
    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger-uk View Post
    You must be a glutton for pinishment
    a glittin for pinishment, moi? never!

    already planning on going back on the HoWL next year but extending the trip by continuing on from abertawe (swansea) to doc penfro (pembroke dock).

    now that is punishment!

    of course next year i could maybe try derby - matlock, derwent valley line, and get off at cromford and cycle the high peak and tissington trails...hmmm...

    have done both trails but not used trains to get there. recall the steep incline from cromford on the HP trail and the one up to middleton top. ouch!



    TM
    going...going...still here...just

  5. #34
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    Ok, while you're plugging railways!

    My local (I have friends who volunteered as teenagers to clear the line to open this!) is more a tourist attraction that a useful line, but get a weekend when they have steam on, and it's good fun.... Oh, there's a linked Ale trail too

    http://www.eastlancsrailway.org.uk/

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