Llangollen (A night ride 12 miles x 2)

We intend to do one night ride every year, which is a ride in total darkness. This year it was from Chirk to Llangollen along the Shropshire/ Llangollen canal. It was a cold, wet, and muddy night in early December when we left the train at Chirk. We could have joined the canal path straight away, but I wanted to show my mate Chirk tunnel, so that was the start. We both had good ‘cree’ headlights and they were needed outside of the tunnel. The path was laden with the previous autumn leaves and high winds had brought some branches down across the path.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct We trudged on through the second shorter tunnel; Whitehouse. The highlight was supposed to be crossing Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, but the perception of height was flawed, we could hear the river Dee below, but could not see it. As this was a festive ride our first stop was at the Telford Inn, the Inn was warmed by a real log fire, giving off that distinctive smell. It could have been so easy to stay there in front of the fire and down more cider, but we drank up and set off again. We crossed over the 19th-century dry dock and continued in the dark. You’d think we’d be the only idiots out in this weather, but that wasn’t the case as we passed two families strolling along in the heavy rain, with pen torches for illumination. We reached Llangollen around five thirty and booked into Gales hotel. My chum had decided earlier in the year to discard his mudguards, but now in the light, that was a big mistake. He was caked in mud, and worse still, so was his panniers. When he had a shower, the bathroom looked like a mud bomb had been set off.

Llangollen real ale train We didn’t have time to clean it (he cleaned it later) as we had two tickets booked on the ‘real ale’ train at Llangollen. Through ‘Trip adviser’ we were pre-warned to bring our own food as the station was only selling burgers from a makeshift barbecue. We took a few pictures of the train and boarded. After settling into a compartment, we set out our impressive smorgasbord, our first class compartment was near the toilet and more to the point; near the bar, where there was a selection of real ales with the first one free. The train set off and even at night we could still see quite a bit, we passed the Chainbridge hotel, where the river was in full torrent. The train terminated at Carrog Station and the engine changed ends to go back to Llangollen. We had one more trip from Llangollen to Carrog and back, by the end of the night (like the engine) we were well oiled.

In the morning we went down for breakfast and set off back to Chirk, the rain had subsided but the ground was still sodden and was dispersed with fallen branches across the path. When we got to Chirk, we had a long wait for the next train due to engineering works, but we chatted with a couple on the way to an Elvis convention (and dressed the part too). There are only a few images in the gallery as they didn’t come out right. It was an expensive muddy weekend, but it was good fun.

  • Gallery

    gallery page Why not have a look at the gallery relating to this ride. Click the image or the title.

  • Acrefair railway station as is today

    Acrefair railway station We spoke to one of the volunteers about the extension of the line to Corwen and suggested it was a pity it couldn’t go further west, she stated that would be unlikely now, but added the heritage railway could have extended east to Ruabon when they had the opportunity, now it would be too costly.

  • Sun Bank Halt accident

    Sun Bank Halt On a stormy night in 1945, part of the Llangollen canal burst its banks near Sun Bank Halt (between Ruabon and Llangollen), taking the ballast away and leaving the track suspended in mid air. The signalmen was unaware anything was wrong because the telegraph cables were unaffected, then in the early hours a GWR mail train fell into the breach. The driver died instantly and the ensuing fire destroyed much of the train.

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