Photo: Llandrindod Bandstand
by Jill de Gray Birch

Railway Group - "Rail Riders"

Group Leader: David Horne - david@u3a-llandrindod.org.uk

The group plans to travel around using the rail network.

There are three options: Local (Wales), Regional (The UK) and Exploration (Europe!!).

"Local" will include, Gardens, Castles, Houses ... whatever grabs the members interests.

The group will operate all the year round taking advantage of Free Rail in the winter!!!!

Snowdonia Mountain Railway

Wednesday 18th September 2019

Oh glorious sunshine!

If there is one railway journey that needs sunshine it has to be ascending the highest mountain in Wales. By golly didi the weather deliver. Not just sunny but basking in late summer warmth.

We started as usual in the Metropole  car park at 6.30am. I have to give it to my companions, they are a dedicated lot and not afraid to put themselves out. If there was one slightly damp squib on the day it was the navigating skill of the lead driver and group leader. They nickname me Blue Leader One! If I had been a pilot in the Battle of Britain my navigation skills that morning would have lost us the battle. Foolishly ignoring my own rules for travel I  followed the wonderfully accented voice of a female person, otherwise know as the Satnag (Sorry Satnav).

Having booked us an early(ish) train - 10am - it became clear that we would not make it in time. I was able to call ahead and alter the train time thus avoiding major embarrassment.

Once safely in llanberis the good folk of Llandrindod went off on their own for food and exploration agreeing to reconvene in plenty of time to get the alloted train at 1.30pm.The journey up Snowdon took one hour. the sky was crystal blue  which afforded magnificent views all the way up. There were feathery clouds at the top but the views were still clear and spectacular. An oft overused superlative but it says exactly what was on the tin! 

At the summit we were allowed 30 minutes before the descent. 6 of us climbed the 80 steps from the train station to the top. It was very busy with lots of people there including a rugby team doing a charity walk and everyone was helpful with each other. 

We descended at 3pm arriving in Llanberis at 4pm then adjourned to the snack bar for a beverage. 

We also decided we would stop for a spot of supper on the way home. having sampled the delights of The Bluebell Inn at llangurig on a previous trip we decided to go there. A reservation was made by telephone and we set off at about 5pm.  No vavigation problems this time and we duly arrived on time.

This was one of those days you have when it could not have been more perfect. Even missing the early train meant we had a longer and more relaxed day with a lovely meal to finish things off. The weather was perfect, the company good with some great repartee and banter. The photographs aren't bad either

 

Welsh Highland Railway

Wednesday 8th May 2019.

Why is that every trip the group has completed, the weather is either wet, cold or snowy - or a combination of all 3! Can someone answer me this one simple question? No. Neither can I.

Thus it was on this particular day. Chilly to say the least.

The intrepid travellers met up at 8am at the Metropole Hotel car park to journey far and wide - well to Porthmadog at any rate. I have to say that the route chosen proved every bit as scenic and worth the trip alone.

We arrived in plenty of time, collected our tickets and had time to have refreshments and browse the station shop before boarding our train - the C235 "David lloyd George" - a Double Fairley engine. An odd looking engine with a funnel on each end.

Travelling 3rd class the journey too us through some of the best rail side scenery and the weather was clear enough for us to see everything. We stopped at Minffordd, Penrhyn, Tanybwlch, dduallt where the track looped round through 360 degrees to navigate a hill, Tanygrisiau and arriving in Bleinau Ffestiniog approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes later.

Ffestiniog is a small community which is best enjoyed in good weather. While it would have been nice to explore the town the weather dictated otherwise with most of us seeking shelter from the cold in charity shops or the visitor centre or finding somewhere to eat. We originally agreed to meet up for the return train at 3.50pm but 6 of the group decided to return to porthmadog earlier and spend time looking round there and to meet the later train with the rest  other from the group.

Unfortunately 3 of the 5 missed the train at 3.50 and caught a bus instead, arriving back in porthmadog before the train. The first 6 arrived in time to meet the trin only to find the gang of 3 already there. The other 2 arrived by train. So we ended up with not just a railway ride but for some a bus ride also. Good value for money I would say.

After some more refreshments we decided to hit the raod and return to llandrindod, stopping off on the way at The Blue Bell Inn, llangurig for a spot of supper. Very nice it was too.

I can honestly say it was a brilliant day and a pleasure to organise. The weather was not the best but unlike previous trips we could actually see where we were going and enjoyed the scenery whilst the train made it's way.   

 

Completed trips

October 2017 - Day trip to Swansea. Heart of Wales Line

December 2017 - Christmas lunch at the Engine Shed. Severn Valley Railway

August 2018 - Fish and chip supper. Devils Bridge. Vale of Rheidol

November 2018 - Sunday Lunch. Devil's Bridge. Vale of Rheidol

May 2019 - Bleinau Ffestiniog. Welsh Mountain Railway

Sunday lunch

10 U3A members set off on a dry morning in November in 3 cars and met up in  Aberystwyth to catch the train running at 11am to Devil’s Bridge.

 

The weather stayed dry, if a little cool.

 

Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge takes 1 hour. There was plenty of chit chat, with many comments from the group about the lovely views and scenery.

 

Upon arrival at Devil’s Bridge we made our way to the Hafod Hotel where Sunday lunch was served. We had to queue for a while and were eventually seated. After what seemed an age we were served with our lunch. The waiting was a bit unexpected but when it arrived the food looked really appetising. I have to say the beef that I had was some of the best I have ever tasted and judging by the comments from others at the table they felt the same. Those who did not have beef also expressed satisfaction with the food.

 

Some folk wanted liquid refreshment with their lunch but again the speed of service was quite slow. A theme was emerging……………….

 

Sadly we only had to leave the hotel all to soon  to board the train for the return journey.

 

The return was just as scenic and we arrived back in Aberystwyth at 3pm.

 

Overall there were many positive comments about the journey and the food, even if the service was a mite too slow

 

 

 

David Horne 

 

Fish & chip supper

Members of the Railriders group travelled from Aberystwyth to Devil's Bridge on the Vale of Rheidol Railway. It took place on Saturday 18th August 2018. We departed at 6pm and returned 9pm. Unfortunately the summer weather decided to change from hot and dry to wet. However we were not underterred. The views across the valley were spectacular (when we could see through the rain) as usual. 

 

Transport for the trip will be by car share

Christmas Outing

Members of the group organised a Christmas lunch on the Severn Valley Railway on Wednesday 13th December.  The visit included a 30 minute trip on the railway ending up in the engine shed in Highley where they enjoyed a splendid christmas lunch as well as good look at the engines and other items on display in the exhibition.

Read more: A full account of the visit is available to download.

 

Group members on their trip to the Severn Valley Railway