Its not possible to get the train from Chester to Llangollen directly. You normally get the train to Chirk or Ruabon, and then get the bus. I decided to get the train to Ruabon, walk to Trefor (the site of the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct) and then follow the Canal into Llangollen.
The Weather was better, throughout the day, than this picture gives credit, however it does show some of the countryside, nature and serenity of the walk.
According to the map, it was 7 miles, but took nearly 3 hours, each way, so not sure what that’s about. On the way, I was passed by a barge. It travels from Ruabon to Llangollen and back again, and costs £11 one way. I thought this was a bit expensive, when you consider that you can hire your own barge for around £100, as I did on my birthday one year.
Arriving in Llangollen itself, I immediately make for the steam railway there. I have been in submarines, flown in helicopters, travelled in amphibious vehicles, and even driven a tank, but I have never actually travelled on a Steam Train.
There was a major Steam Train event taking place, with hundreds of enthusiasts. I have a strange kind of reversal of luck. The ticket seller, explains to me that its my lucky day, and that for £16 I can travel around on different Steam Trains, all day. All very nice, but I only want to go on one, and was thinking more like £3.50. Because of the Gala event, the standard ticket prices aren’t available, so I have to put off this adventure for another day. I take a few minutes to snap a nice picture of a Steam Train anyway.
I continue wandering around Llangollen. I visit the Pro-Adventure (a supplier Ive used several times for equipment and outdoor activities). After wandering around further, I see that the credit crunch has taken its toll on local adventure businesses, but this has created opportunities for people like me.
Normally a days hill walking, mountain biking etc with a guide costs around £100 per day. Now they are offering deals where you can do this for and average of £45. I haven’t done any Kayaking in a good while, so make a mental note of this for the future, when I plan a weekend camping in Llangollen.
No trip to this town would be complete, without a walk along the river. About 250 metres outside the main town is the riverside park. Its pretty quiet, so I buy some tea and a chocolate brownie, get out my notebook and start writing stuff down (its easy in the excitement of the day, to forget things).
A wander around some more, have a good look at the campsite, look around a few bunk houses and camping barns and take down telephone numbers. I see the shop doorway of a charity shop. I remember that several years earlier, my friend Frank had some acting work here. He was working for the BBC on a local news story called “Keep a welcome in the valley”.
The basic idea, was that Frank would stand in the shop doorway, and try to convince passers by to try on a horrendous dressing gown, which he told them he was considering buying for his sister (Ive known Franks sister since she was a small child, and she would have strangled him, if he had ever seriously delivered such a gift).
Frank being Frank, actually got all 5 people to take part and put on the dressing gown.
Back to the Canal, and a long but peaceful walk to Ruabon. The station, it is overrun with Steam Train enthusiasts. travelling home (ironically on Diesel trains !).
I sit there, and wonder how they can get so excited about something like that. But then it occurs to me, how many people would think wandering along a Canal is such a fantastic experience, yet to me it is.