Thursday, 5 August 2010

A day on the Llangollen Railway.

Thought I'd have a few hours away from the business yesterday.

Which way to go at the gate two choices, left or right - it's a difficult decision. I choose left. I feel better for being decisive.

Where next? Caffi Florence at Loggerheads Country Park? I'd read about them achieving an award for being one of the top ten places in the U.K. for breakfast - and knowing them anyway, I decided to head there.

Breakfast was great. Home made bread, baked beans and tomato ketchup [who else does that?] together with locally cured  bacon with local sausage, eggs and mushrooms. A big mug of excellent coffee and today's local newspaper - all in a lovely countryside location.

Following the route of the Flintshire Leisure Tour, Loggerheads is just about a 15 drive minutes from The Old Mill.

I decided then to head for the lovely riverside village of Carrog in the Dee Valley. It has a special attraction for me as the terminus of the Llangollen Steam Railway.

I set the sat nav to Carrog - shortest route. I know the roads but shortest route usually throws up some surprises and today was no exception. I followed a country lane from the Nant y Garth pass, east of Ruthin, to Bryneglwys. I'm sure I've never been on that road before.

Just 30 minutes after leaving Loggerheads I pass through Carrog, cross over the stone bridge which spans the River Dee and soon turn into the car park for Carrog station.

With plenty of time to wander around this beautifully restored country railway station, I passed up the chance of a coffee from the small cafe just off the booking hall as I was still awash from Caffi Florence. There was 10 minutes or so before the train arrived from Llangollen so I passed the time taking a couple of photos and videos.

Carrog station is such a peaceful place when the train has yet to arrive. One or two photographers sipping their coffees fiddling with their exposure setting and squinting at the sky to make sure their apertures were set correctly. A family or two were buying their tickets.

Every now and again a mournful whistle echoed across the Dee valley, steadily getting just that little bit louder. A little boy started jumping up and down "where is it Daddy, I can't see it" Daddy probably felt like doing the same thing but was more restrained. As an old hand, I knew it would be a little while yet.

Finally the engine with its rake of coaches hove into view. That's one of the great things about Carrog station, you get a great view as the train approaches across the fields.

Arrival. Now - all hell is let loose. The train is packed with holiday makers who have started their journey at Llangollen. The platform is suddenly full as the lure of coffee, tea and cake in the cafe proves too strong. A queue forms and heads strain to see what is on offer behind the glass fronted shelves. At the back of everybody's mind is " How long have we got before the train leaves"  and "We must leave time for a toilet visit before we leave - and there might be a queue."

Wasn't it always thus before we became a car bound society.

There's no need to worry, there's plenty of time. However the suddenly emptied carriages do mean that those of us who have been waiting can now saunter on to an empty coach and pick out the best seat available. Crafty eh?

The engine has uncoupled and has run around its coaches, coupling up again ready to pull us all back to Llangollen.

Before too long there is a lot of door slamming and the clamour of voices rising as travellers get back on board. Luckily, nobody is muttering "That bloke's pinched my seat"

There's some flag waving and whistles being blown - and off we go. The scenery really is fantastic, I love it, especially as we approach the Berwyn Tunnel.

However, a book that I'm carrying with me is pulled out and I start to relax.

Aren't days off pleasant.
More to come about our arrival in Llangollen and the sites to see.

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