Wings and Wheels Society.

The Cambrian Coast Express Trip 20-5-2022.

After a couple of years Hiatus from riding the rails due to the pandemic etc, I decided it was time to go on a day trip that I fancied doing a couple of years previous! After much rescheduling of dates and a Barmouth bridge closure now in the past, Pathfinder tours fully booked land cruise tour to the Cambrian Coast was finally on! My ticket and train times arrived in the post prior to the tour, due to pathing and an increased Cambrian passenger train timetable the tour would now start from Bristol significantly earlier at 4.30am (that's right! there's 2 of these in a day Gulp), this meant that me and my fellow travellers Ian and Jill had to be at Cam & Dursley station for a prompt 5am departure. On the day DBS loco 66034 arrived hauling the train on time, with a busy station full of waiting eager passengers, that included Dougal Fred and Andy, with some already aboard, many other people we knew from Wings and Wheels were on the trip including the usual crew from Gloucester (it was nice to see Musto, Mike and Co too). Ian, Jill, and I sat near our mates the Tocknell's from our locality, also making new friends from Coaley village Dai and Karen that sat opposite us. As a treat we booked in premier class comfort, and at 6am prompt after a pickup at Worcester Parkway (where a new travelling companion Mr Mike the Blacksmith from Tewksbury joined us in our block of 4 seats) we started off with Bucks Fizz and a large fry up breakfast followed by lashings of coffee and tea. At Shrewsbury our class 66 loco was swapped for 2 named class 97's No's 97302 & 304 (these shiney yellow ex class 37 Syphon twins, of ex TOPS numbers 37170 & 217), here we had a 2 hour stop over, so a bit of exploring architecture including the Severn rail viaduct that carries the station above had to be done. Once the train was serviced and the Syphons (nickname for class 37 locos) were ready including the driver with a large tea pot Mrs! See photos, we were off. Once into Central Wales the locos thrashed their 'Syphonic Symphony' of English Electric noise through the narrowing valleys and over the summit at Talerddig showing it no mercy before a winding descent to Machynlleth. After a bonus photo stop, we soon crossed the Dovey Estuary to Aberdovey, before the final climb to the Friog rock shelter and another descent to the famous wooden bridge across the sandy Mawddach Estuary at Barmouth. The relentless Syphons then continued north through Harlech, with setting down at Minffordd before going onto Porthmadog and the lines end at Pwllheli. My self,Ian, and Jill and about 15 others got off at Minffordd and started our hike to Portmerion (The 1925 Clough Williams-Ellis styled Italian Village famous for the late 1960's Prisoner TV series), so after a well needed walk and visit, where I must say that we discovered some local blonde Ale that was also consumed, it was time to walk back to the station, we thought it would be nice to see some narrow gauge steam, we were in luck, one of the oldest steaming railway locos in Britain, Prince 0-4-0ST+T from 1863, arrived on a permanent way train, so a chance for a few photos ensued. After this it was time to get in place to photograph our train arriving that I could hear in the distance making the climb (with lots of growling) from Porthmadog, once aboard we retraced our route homewards, with even more bonus photo stops to pass service trains as our bright yellow pair of locos arrived early at most passing station loops, this reminded me of classic F&W tour photo stops from the 1980's. After a stop at Barmouth it was time for our 4-course meal washed down with wine then more wine and guess what more Ale. At Shrewsbury, this time a quick swap over of locos for 66034 and a return home via the midland urban conurbations of Bescot, seeing us arrive at Cam & Dursley at midnight. Phew what a day! it certainly was indeed, with lots of photos taken of some cracking landscapes architecture etc. We would like to thank Pathfinder for organising and looking after us in style (on my first trip back on the rails since early 2020, ease my myself in I thought only 19 hours aboard a train!).

Copyright of all pictures in this gallery belong to R Kelsey.