Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The Little Railways of Mid Wales

Last week we spent 8 days on the west coast of Wales.
5 days on a farm near Cardigan and then 3 days on the southern tip of Snowdonia.
This is a post about those last 3 days, I will blog about the first 5 later.

Similar to many children her age, C is mad about trains at the moment.
We planned the second half of the holiday to allow us to go on one of the many narrow gauge railways scattered across Wales
Things got a a little more traintastic than even we expected though...

On the Friday we were to travel to our next cottage near Tywyn.
To break up the day we decided to stop off at the Vale of Rheidol railway at Aberwystwyth.
This pretty little railway runs from the centre of Aberwystwyth up to Devils Bridge in the hills to the east.

C, not surprisingly was in her element.
Craning her head each time we turned a corner to get a glimpse of the engine.
The scenery really was spectacular as we began to climb into the hills!

Unfortunately due to an explosive nappy incident from baby B there was not enough time to properly walk around Devil's Bridge before the return train however we did manage a bite to eat and a quick photo.

I was worried C might get a bit bored on the journey back but she was very good.  An elderly couple even stopped us at the end and commented on how well behaved our children were for the journey.
It obviously helped immensely that we were doing something C enjoyed but was lovely to hear positive comments while out and about rather than the under the breath mutters as your child has a tantrum on the floor!

On the Saturday we got up early and travelled to Fairbourne.
Today was going to be a slightly different train day.
The Fairbourne Railway runs from Fairbourne village to the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary, connecting with the ferry to Barmouth.
Unlike many of the Welsh narrow gauge railways this line was never used to transport slate from the mines.  It has always been a tourist attraction.
The weather was glorious and we grabbed a seat in an open topped carriage.
We basked in the spring sunshine as we travelled through the sun dunes.
Again the scenery was beautiful.  The water sparkled in the sunshine and the mountains loomed in the background.

Back at Fairbourne station there is also a model railway that C enjoyed watching immensely.
In some ways she enjoys watching the trains just as much as she enjoys travelling on them... possibly more.

In the afternoon we went on a bit of an adventure for Mummy and Daddy.
While investigating local railways to entertain C, we came across the interesting mainline station of Dovey Junction.
Situated in the midst of the Dyfi National Nature Reserve, Dovey Junction is beautiful.  It is also in the middle of nowhere!
The only access (apart from by train) is via a 3/4 mile track to the hamlet of Glandyfi.

Our original intention had been to walk round the nature reserve and soak up the beautiful scenery, however on our arrival we realised that everywhere was out of bounds to protect the nesting birds.
We therefore spent the 90 minute wait for the next train sat on the platform entertaining a bored toddler.
Lesson learnt!

Sunday morning brought our reason for travelling north.
DH insisted we took another cottage for a couple of days so that we could visit the Talyllyn Railway.
He has fond memories of visiting as a child.

The full return from Tywyn to Nant Gwernol took 2 1/2 hours which we knew from the previous two days was probably beyond C's attention span.
We therefore came up with a plan than DH and baby B would drop C and I at Tywyn and then drive to Abergynolwyn and join us there for the last 20 minute loop at the end of the line.
We could then alight early and pick up the car.
C enjoyed her "Mummy time" and we spent a lot of time discussing what we could see out of the window. We stopped at lots of stations.  People got on and people got off.
I have to admit the sheep spotting got a little teadious after the a while though!
Stopping at Abergynolwyn on the way back down worked really well and tied in with us having a play at the train themed playground at Abergynolwyn station and grabbing Sunday lunch at a lovely pub in the village.

We were in two minds what to do that afternoon.  There was one more railway we had found out about locally, or we could do the Dolgoch waterfall walk which was meant to be beautiful.
In the end we let C choose, and not surprisingly she opted for the newly opened Corris Railway.
This small section of line runs from the village of Corris to Maespoeth along the Dulas valley.

At the end of the line we were given a guided tour of the engine sheds.
They also hit the mark by providing a wooden railway for the little ones to play with while the tour was on.
This was the highlight of the afternoon for C and she really did not want to get back on the train to return to the car.

Monday marked the end of our time in Wales but not quite the end to our train adventures.
That will have to wait for another post though.

Do you have a train mad toddler?
I can highly recommend the little railways of Mid Wales if you do!

I'm linking this post up with Coombe Mill #CountryKids.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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