3 August 2001
In August, we took a long weekend in Snowdonia, staying at the Fairy Glen
Hotel on the banks of the Afon Conwy, just outside Betws-y-Coed.
The Fairy Glen Hotel, Betws-y-Coed
We set off from Enfield at about 10.30pm on Thursday evening, making good
time and staying at a Travelodge just north of Birmingham. On Friday we stopped briefly at
the Round House at Gailey. This is a delightful old toll house on the Staffordshire &
Worcestershire Canal, next to a lock where the canal descends under Telford's A5. As it is
only two minutes west of junction 12 of the M6, and just over two hours from London, it is
an ideal place to stop to break a journey to the north.
We continued westwards, stopping a another favourite spot, the Pontcysllte Aqueduct.
The Aqueduct was built between 1795 and 1805 by the Ellesmere Canal
Company as part of an ambitious (and ultimately ill-fated) route from what later became
known as Ellesmere Port on the Mersey to Shrewsbury on the Severn. There are 18 piers made
of local stone, the central ones over the Dee being 126' high up to the ironwork. The
canal runs through an iron trough 1007' long 11'10" wide and 5'3" deep. It
remains the highest and longest aqueduct in Britain, and is known as one of the
"Seven Wonders of the Waterways".
We then continued deeper into Wales. As we had arrived in good time, we turned off
Telford's A5 south to Bala, where we had lunch sitting by the north end of Lake
A lorry spotted in Bala.
We then went for a ride on the Bala Lake Railway, to Llanuwchllyn.
The line between Bala and Dolgellau was built by the Bala &
Dolgelley Railway Company and was opened in 1868. The railway joined the Corwen & Bala
Railway at Bala, and with the Cambrian Railways line at Dolgellau. The line was operated
by the Great Western which absorbed the B&DR in 1877. Services through Bala ceased on
15 January 1965 and the line was then closed between Llangollen and Barmouth.
Then a rebirth came in 1971 when a local engineer, George Barnes saw a
potential of the lakeside section for both local and tourist traffic. Track laying began
on Whit Monday in 1972, with a one and a quarter mile track was opened on 13 August 1972.
In 1976 the railway reached its current terminus at the old Bala Halt site, around half a
mile from the town centre.
Milk churns at Llanuwchllyn. The gap between the track and the platform edge shows that
this was once a standard gauge route.
Llanuwchllyn Signal Box, with a plaque in memory of George Barnes (1923-2000), Founder and
General Manager (1972-1985) of the Bala Lake Railway.
View west from Llanuwchllyn Signal Box.
Looking north at Llanuwchllyn.
Maid Marian, our loco for the afternoon, runs around the train at Llanuwchllyn, ready for
the return trip back to Bala.
Signal clears ready for our return.
View of Bala Lake on the return to Bala.