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Nostalgic Train Rides along the Scenic River Dee

Llangollen Steam Rail Ride Water photoThe Llangollen Railway first began service in 1865, carrying passengers along the River Dee from the Welsh border town of Llangollen to Carrog. Now a heritage steam railway offering train rides through the scenic river valley through the lush wooded hills, The line only runs for 7 1/2 miles, but travels through some of the most beautiful scenery in Britain. Several other heritage trains run in North Wales, most begun as narrow gauge freight lines to carry slate from the mines, (see Porthmadog Steam Trains), but the Llangollen line was purpose built for passenger service, is the longest preservedLlangollen Railway Station Signal Box photo standard gauge rail line in Wales. The line is run by volunteers and operates on most weekends throughout the year and during the week between June and October. In the winter, during December the focus is on a Santa Train for kids, with the jolly old elf handing gifts to eager young riders while adults are served sherry and mince pies at their seats and Thomas the Tank makes appearances for kids a couple of times a year in February and August. Other special event trains include Murder Mystery journeys, Ale Trains and fireworks Rocket Train in early November.

Llangollen Railway Rail Cars photoThe Llangollen Railway station is located below the historic stone bridge across the Dee River into the center of the popular tourist destination town. The railway operates a few different locomotives and varies the rail stock. The original commercial railroad ended service in 1965, but the tracks were relaid over a partial section beginning ten years later as a heritage enthusiasts line with a the extensions added over the next twenty years. Demolished signal boxes at Llangollen Goods Junction, Deeside Halt, Glyndyfrdwy and Carrog had to be rebuilt from level ground, and today are fully operational which allows multiple trains to operate on busy weekends and special event gala days. For a weekend in September all five working engines are trotted out for a Steam Gala along with a visiting guest engine.

Llangollen Steam Engine photoTaken from the Llangollen station the route lies mostly uphill where smoke dramatically billows from the engines as the line climbs steeply to reach Berwyn Station and through the third of a mile long Berwyn Tunnel to Deeside Halt, from where the line rises up a more shallow grade to Glyndyfrdwy Village and on to Carrog. A further extension beyond Carrog to the original terminus of Corwen, including the construction of a new station there is planned but will take a few years to complete. A Drivers Experience course is offered to learn to operate the controls of a steam engine, reservations required.

Llangollen Canal photoThere is lots to do in Llangollen beyond the rail ride. Just up the hill from the station is the Llangollen Canal, where touring narrow boats can dock for a stopover in Llangollen after passing over the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct (see Canal Narrow Boats Nantwich), and horse drawn canal boats are available for local nostalgic tourist rides. On the north hill overlooking the town and rapids of the Dee River valley are the ruins of the ancient castle of Dinas Bran. Two miles to west along the A542 is the Valle Crucis Abbey, founded by Cistercian Monks in 1201 and about four miles to the east is the preserved medieval Chirk Castle (see Chirk Castle- Wrexham). About a mile along the north side of the Dee is the Llangollen Motor Museum (see Llangollen Vintage Cars and Motorcycles) in a former auto garage formed from a private collection. Llangollen is best reached by car. By rail, the nearest station is at Ruabon five miles away, with local bus service to Llangollen. © Bargain Travel Europe

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