Friday, June 10, 2016

Thursday 9 June - Walking the Weshpool and Llanfair Railway

Today I went again with Charles to Llanfair.  He was preparing the locomotive Earl while I did some work in the office.  Charles introduced me to Merv Whitaker who was to accompany me on the track. We took the first train out at 1000 and got off at Castel Caereinion, stopping first at Dolrhyd Mill curve to let out Rodney and his equipment.  Rodney set up his work limit protection with yellow flags and continued repointing the embankment close to the river.
Rodney can be seen working on the embankment wall.
This is the view of Earl from the front balcony.
 The plan was to walk back along the line looking at all of the crossings.  There was the possibility that we could catch the first train back from Welshpool at Heniarth.  But this seemed unlikely. The train crew knew that we were out on the track and were keeping a look out for us.  Merv and I had already agreed that when a train came we would acknowledge and move to a safe place on the same side of the track.
This is the first train from Welshpool back to Llanfair.  We heard it in the distance and both waved when the driver whistled.  He acknowledged with another short toot.  The W&L is very safety conscious so that everybody can enjoy themselves in safety
It was a hot day but we were able to stop for water in the shade. Merv was a great companion and we chatted about many railway subjects from Welsh narrow gauge to main line steam and Switzerland.
At Cyfronydd a herd of cows raced to the fence to see what we were doing
The bridge over the Banwy River is a major work on the line.  Walking across it might be difficult for some but the view is magnificent,
View from the Banwy bridge.
As expected we did not get back to Heniarth in time for the first train back.  This is a replica of an original W&L station.
We then had the option of waiting at Heniarth for the next train but this would have been a couple of hours as the departure from Llanfair had not passed, or walking the mile and a half back to Llanfair. We decided to walk back.

There is a complete set of mileposts along the driver's (north) side of the line.  These are typical GWR and in excellent condition although some are a little difficult to spot in the undergrowth.  They are set at quarter mile intervals - This one shows mile 7 3/4.
The second train of the day from Llanfair at mile 7.8 by an old water tank.
Having completed my track walk, I had lunch in the crew room and rode the balcony of the last train of the day from Llanfair to Welshpool and return.  This allowed me to cover off a few crossings for which I needed pictures.  We had Earl with Charles firing to Simon.

The weather had turned cloudy and it started to rain on the way out. It was raining heavily as we started our return.  The grade out of Welshpool is very steep at 1 in 29 and the engine had been standing a little while.  The rail was greasy as the rain had just started.  A prolonged downpour will clean the rail.  Simon managed to take the Earl up the grade with only a couple of small slips and the fact that we did not stop at the top for a blow up indicated that Charles was providing enough steam.
Even the animals had taken shelter in the downpour
We stopped at Dolrhyd Mill to pick up Rodney.  It cannot have been pleasant for him waiting in the downpour close to the river in the buggy undergrowth. The rain had stopped by the time we had reached Llanfair.
The Welshpool and Llanfair Railway has been put to bed ready for tomorrow.
There was just one more part of my project to complete.  On the way back to Shrewsbury we stopped at two crossing, Coppice Lane and Cwm Lane, to take a closer look on the ground.  

The end of an interesting and useful couple of days.

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