Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Deep Wales!

Over the past few days I have made much use of the current Arriva Wales Wales 'Club 55' ticket offer. It allows any return journey on the ATW network for £22. At the weekend, Chris and I used such tickets to attend my brother's birthday party in the wilds of Monouthshire, between the Wye and Raglan. The train took us swiftly from Wilmslow to Abergavenny where we met elder daughter Claire and her boyfriend, Dave. Claire drove us to The Cripple Creek pub (between Abergavenny and my brother's house) for lunch with Dave's parents, and then on to the birthday party where the four of us (among many others!) stayed the night.

Next morning, after watching my brother's alpacas for a while and exploring his rather extensive 'patch', we had Sunday lunch in the nearby Lion Inn at Trellech before Claire drove us to Abergavenny for the train home. Next morning (Monday, yesterday) I'd be passing through Abergavenny by train again!

Peter, Malc and I have been considering a trip by train into 'Deep Wales'. This year ATW have introduced time restrictions on the Club 55 tickets which didn't apply to earlier offers; in particular travel except at weekends cannot commence before 09:30. This seriously limits possible long distance day trips from our home station, Wilmslow, so we decided to incorporate an overnight stay to take us to Tenby via the Welsh Marches, and back via the 'Heart of Wales' line over two days. The 09:46 ATW class 175 departure from Wilmslow took us via Crewe, Shrewsbury, Hereford, Abergavenny, Newport, and Cardiff to Swansea. From there we changed to a Class 143 'nodding donkey' for the final leg to Tenby.

As ever, please click on any picture for a larger image.

 The Tenby train reverses at Camarthen. The line ahead of the train above is fenced off as it no longer proceeds beyond the head shunt. It used to go to Newcastle Emlyn and on to Aberwrystwyth where it joined the Cambrian line from Dovey Junction. If these Beeching cuts had not been implemented, this would be a useful route between South and North Wales today, via Dovey Junction, Porthmadog, and Afon Wen to Caernarfon. 

Beyond Whiteland the single line to Pembroke Dock via Tenby leaves the double track line to Milford Haven. Here, our train arrives at Tenby where there is a passing loop, hence two lines.  

It was a damp and murky day, but the earlier rain had passed through by the time we arrived 

Tenby harbour, with the lifeboat station beyond 

I had booked us rooms at the cheap but pleasant Albany Hotel, and after checking in we explored the town, meeting some locals in the 'Hope & Anchor' pub. Here's the church in the centre of Tenby.

Peter and Malc in the Hope & Anchor 

Next morning the tide was in, and it was blowing a gale. But it was a warm gale! 

The harbour with boats afloat. The red-roofed building is the old lifeboat station now converted to accommodation.  The new lifeboat station is behind it. 

The lifeboat entering the harbour 

Here's a friendly cat I met down by the harbour 

We walked around the point past the lifeboat station. Here's its interior. The lifeboat is absent as the wind was generating a big swell, and after it returned from the harbour it made one attempt to position for winching up into the station before the crew decided to put it on a mooring instead. The crew returned to shore in the inflatable inshore boat. 

Around the corner we came across this small bay to the south of the promontory

On top of the promontory is a statue of Prince Albert

Peter and Malc climb the promontory, with St Catherine's Island in the background

Looking back at the town from the top of the promontory

We made our way to the railway station for the late morning train to Llanelli

Recent rain had swollen the River Towy, which the railway follows from Camarthen to Llanelli

Despite the awful weather forecast, we actually saw some sun!

Malc and Peter watch our single-coach 'Heart of Wales' class 153 unit from Swansea enter Llanelli station as a class 175 bound for Manchester Piccadilly leaves. We could have caught the 175 all the way to Wilmslow, getting there more quickly than our planned route. But Malc hadn't done the Heart of Wales line before, and Peter and I prefered it to the more familiar Welsh Marches route (via Cardiff and Abergavenny).

The River Towy at Llandeilo, much further upstream than we saw it ealier at Camarthen, had burst its banks after heavy overnight rain

The Heart of Wales line crosses the swollen river. Many years ago there was a tragic bridge collapse on the line with a train ending up in the river, with loss of life. 

Sugar Loaf Summit

We left our Heart of Wales train at Craven Arms (above) from where we caught a 175 unit that had worked up the Welsh Marches line, and took us home via Shrewsbury and Crewe. Just in time to meet Ivan there for a nice pint or two and an evening meal at the Bollin Fee! Poor old Ivan still works for a living so had been unable to join this, the latest spree by the Old Codgers!


No comments:

Post a Comment