Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Something Completely Different

Riding the Train
After two days of hard slogging through aqueducts, tunnels tight turns and single lane sections of canal, we were ready for something different and Llangollen provides a perfect opportunity. The canal runs alongside one side of the River Dee, and the train runs along the other side. Now this is no ordinary train; it is a real steam train pulling traditional steam-era passenger cars. Our Return ticket cost us £13.50 each, but I hurried aboard and captured a first class compartment for our party of six. This provided us with comfortable plush seating (if a little worn), steam heating if required, and adjustable lighting (Dim or Bright). It was easy to imagine Mrs. Marple or Poirot
Riding First Class
sitting in a similar compartment traveling somewhere to solve a murder.

As I was waiting for the train I went up towards the engine as it sat smoking, steaming and leaking water and oil to get a few pictures. The engineer was casually leaning against the open engine door and I asked him to smile as I took his picture. I then noticed the firebox open and glowing red hot with the burning coal, and I asked if he would mind moving a bit so I could get a picture of it. “Come on up, we’re not moving for a few minutes yet.”. I climbed up into the engine to get a great picture of the inside of the engine.

Warm your feet?
Inside the Engine
Now this is a special “tourist” train and the total ride is only about 2.5 miles, and takes about an hour return with a 15 minute stop to switch the engine around to pull the cars back to Llangollen, but it is pretty unique experience with the smoke and steam and the unique whistle at each stop. Part of the trip is through another tunnel, and the smoke and sparks from the stack flash by the windows in the dark and when you come out the other side the windows are fogged from the steam, even on a sunny afternoon (Yes, we discovered that
the sun does occasionally defeat the Welsh mist).

I couldn’t help thinking how much my grandfather who was a great steam train fan would have enjoyed this part of the trip. I know it was a highlight of the trip so far. 

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