Posted in Railways on Saturday 24th September 2011 at 10:42pm

There are a whole range of preserved railways I used to consider impossible targets. The idea of integrating infrequent rail and bus services, and spending the entire visit worrying about getting back on time used to paralyse and attempt to go in the first place, unless of course they decided to put on a bus service of their own - which Barrow Hill and The Churnet Valley Railway both should claim some credit here for doing this admirably and reliably, which is of course a whole other challenge! One of these targets written off as impossible for many years was the Llangollen Railway - a very sparse service between Shrewsbury and Wrexham, meeting a two-hourly bus was just not going to get me there. But with a diesel day announced for today and knowing the service was much better these days I decided to have a look at my options.

And the good news is, it's incredibly simple and quick to get to Llangollen by public transport now. A quick, early morning run up to Wolverhampton via CrossCountry where I switched to the Arriva Trains service to Holyhead, taking me all the way to Ruabon. Out into the yard near the attractive station building which is no longer in railway use, and yards away was a bus stop, with a digital "next bus" display on the flag. Every 15 minutes, a service runs from Wrexham to Llangollen, with some heading out further to serve the villages along the valley. Bang on time it arrived. I settled in for the short run through rather stunning countryside to Llangollen, with the bus delivering me to a stop beside the river, just feet from the Town Centre station site. The station itself bears some exploration - snugly squeezed into a site beside the River Dee, the additional arch of the Mediaeval Town Bridge which brought the line in from Ruabon is now stopped up. The station is long and curving, with attractive stone walls along its approach and some fine buildings. Both platforms remain in use, with a very substantial footbridge linking them, and a sizeable refreshment room near the foot. Purchased a ticket and made a dash over the bridge to catch the DMU service up the valley. I'd made some very rough plans to ensure I travelled with most of the locos out today, but I wasn't entirely confident of the crossing points, so my first run was as far as Glyndyfrdwy, where I took some pictures as the trains crossed, then explored the site with its manually operated crossing. The valley was peaceful, and despite a few spots of rain it was pleasant to just sit and relaxed in the station. Access across the platform was via the crossing, as the footbridge awaits restoration, currently having no flooring. Took the next train up the valley to the current terminus at Carrog - another substantial station with an excellent little cafe - and watch the process of running around and attaching locos while the DMU left once again on the intensive service.

D5580 arrives at Glyndyfrdwy with a service to Carrog
D5580 arrives at Glyndyfrdwy with a service to Carrog

Figuring that it will of course be necessary to revisit once the railway manages to complete it's extension to Corwen, I spent a very happy couple of hours shuttling back and forth to Glyndyfrdwy and taking pictures of the crossing trains, before settling on a Class 37 hauled run back down to Llangollen. Enjoyed the splendid views over the river near the Chainbridge Hotel with its curious modern architecture alongside an older building. The bridge itself is currently unsafe I was sad to see. On arrival, wandered over the bridge towards town. The weather had brightened and Llangollen was busy with trippers and locals. I shopped a little before heading for the bus stop and back to Ruabon, arriving a little earlier than planned which allowed some wandering there too. I then retraced my steps home via a change at Wolverhampton onto a surprisingly quiet Voyager heading for Bristol.

37240 at Llangollen Station
37240 at Llangollen Station

Today was just the easy day out I needed, and I was incredibly impressed with how well the transport worked. So, its now clear that a day trip to Llangollen is entirely possible. Ironically, having visited the town, I can't help but feel an overnight stay might be needed to fully appreciate this fine little railway and indeed the town itself. The Dee Valley is a curious spot, full of mysteries and oddities. It's almost no wonder they didn't like to make it too easy to get here in the past perhaps...

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I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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