Just got back from a few days at the folks', which is a good base for a day trip to North Wales. I'd not yet got around to riding the Welsh Highland Railway, but with the kids (plus my parents, and my sister's kids too) the full 2.5 hour run from Caerarfon to Porthmadog (plus the same again back) is too much (time as well as money!). So we joined at Rhyd Ddu, a stunning spot at the bottom of Snowdon and about half-way along the line, although I couldn't pronounce the name if you asked!
The kids loved the train running down the road in Porthmadog, and it has to be said there is something fun about a huge Garratt steam loco threading between the traffic. The turn-around at Porthmadog is interesting and slick too, worthy of Easyjet! Cricceth Castle was on "Station Pilot" duties to reverse the train in and out the platform. A shame the timetable doesn't allow for a browse of the shop on a return trip, perhaps the redesigned track layout to be completed this winter will change that, by allowing an FR and WHR train in the station at the same time. That will be interesting to see!
The scenery along the route lived up to expectations, with stunning views of the mountains and into the Aberglasyn Pass. The gradients are fierce, with much of the line at 1 in 40, whilst negotiating extremely sharp curves. At several points the 10-coach train was S shaped as the train turned back and forth to gain height, no wonder this line needs the huge Garratt locomotives!