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The Ffestiniog Railway (Rheilffordd Ffestiniog) used to be one of my favourites.

Before they built the extension to Blaenau Ffestiniog, Tan-y-Bwlch used to be the highest road-accessible station on the line. I have fond memories of standing on the station back in the early 70s, seeing the ascending train come into sight round the far side of the bowl-shaped valley and proceeding all the way round the bowl to reach the station.

The sound of the whistle echoing from the surrounding hills, and the sight and smell of the engine when it finally reached the station was quite overpowering.

Now that the extension is open, Tan-y-Bwlch is a much quieter place, staffed by two 'railway widows' who clearly would have preferred to be left in peace to have a good natter. The trees have grown up so it is no longer possible to see the train until it actually reaches the station, and the smell: like an old central heating boiler.

Yes folks, back in 1995 the accountants had taken over, coal was too expensive and all the engines had been converted to oil. This despite the fact that the Ffestiniog was spending a fortune rebuilding the Welsh Highland Railway, a line that only operated for about twenty years in its original incarnation.

Catch it now, before it completes its transformation into the Ffestiniog Theme Park, and ceases to have anything more than a passing resemblance to the railway the pioneers set out to preserve. Check the Rheilffordd Ffestiniog Railwayʼs website for opening times etc.