Another Welsh slate train, Brecon Beacons and another long drive in the rain

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October 1st 2010
Published: October 30th 2010
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Yet another cold and rainy Welsh day saw us on yet another historic Welsh Highlands slate train, this time the Ffestiniog Railway, which runs from Porthmadog to Ffestiniog-Blaneau. The engines used on this railway are Fairley Patent engines, a double boiler articulated engine that looks like two engines joined back-to-back. The route of about 20 miles was more of a valley run compared to its sister railway, the Welsh Highlands railway which we had travelled on earlier in the week. While there was less spectacular scenery, the run was still very pleasant, passing through dense forests and past some fantastic waterfalls and lakes. There was even another castle or two to be seen for good measure.

Unlike the other days, there was to be no sunny breaks in the weather all day, so we headed off towards Reading, taking a scenic route through the Brecon Beacons National Park. Here, the already narrow roads that we had travelled on since our arrival in the UK got narrower… …and steeper… …and crazier! It was a great drive through some spectacular mountains, and through some typical Welsh Highland villages - we definitely got the impression that we were travelling through deepest, darkest Wales!

We rejoined the main highway just south of Brecon Beacons, making the crossing over back to England via the Second Severn Bridge near Cardiff. Just before we crossed over, we stopped for a bit to eat on one of the motorway services centres. This was an experience in itself, not in a culinary sense (Burger King), but as a first chance to see how one of these motorway “cities” is set up. They usually include a service station, one or two food outlets, a general store, a motel, some also have carwashes and mini supermarkets as well - all designed to cater for motorway traffic.

Once back in England, and on the M4 motorway, the drive became pretty boring, just one long, straight freeway in the dark and rain. We could have been anywhere in the world, there was nothing really to distinguish this freeway and route with any other. We pulled in to Margery and John Taylor’s house in Reading, Berskshire, at about 9pm, where we were greeted with big hugs all around, and a lovely hot cuppa - time for nine-seys!!!

LITTLE COCKY’S COMMENTS: This train was a push-me-pull-you train, it had two boilers joined together and two funnels. It started near the harbour, and went through the forest and some long tunnels. It went up high in the hills, and past a beautiful waterfall. On the drive back to England we went through more hills on some little tiny roads through some tiny villages. Then we got on a big freeway and went over a big bridge.

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