Phase 4: Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog

Cwm Bychan - Afon Nanmor

Phase 4 pages:
Beddgelert: Bridges & Station
Cwm Bychan - Afon Nanmor

Recent updates are underlined and in red.

[Cwm Bychan] [Nantmor Halt] [Nantmor] [Embankment repair] [UB182] [Nantmor Bank] [Riverbank] [Hafod y Llyn loop] [Hafod y Llyn - Afon Nanmor]

Click for a map of the Phase 4 route in a separate window.

The route section of the site includes detailed illustrated descriptions - Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert and Beddgelert to Porthmadog.

Note for visitors - vehicular access

The route from the Nantmor - Llanfrothen road down towards Hafod y Llyn Isaf is a public bridleway / footpath only - private road vehicles are not permitted.

Cwm Bychan [top of page]

G.H James Cyf gained access from the Nantmor end in early May 2007 for access to the tunnels (see the Aberglaslyn page), and survey posts were also put in place through the section across the Cwm Bychan embankment. At its northern end, barriers were put up across the previous unofficial foot crossing of the line adjacent to the cutting leading to the long tunnel; the official route for walkers passing between Pont Aberglaslyn and Cwm Bychan is, as before, to pass under the bridge. Arch bridge UB177 is an imposing PB&SSR structure. The stream down the valley is crossed by double culvert UB178 at the southern end of the embankment.

The National Trust subsequently erected signs directing walkers to the public footpath under UB177 instead of the closed unofficial route across the trackbed.

Graham Whistler is seen below on July 16th 2007, filming in Cwm Bychan for the next exclusive DVD for Appeal supporters; the dumper was reversing towards Nantmor with rock removed from the floor of T4.

The first of these views taken on August 24th 2007 is looking down chainage across UB177 towards T4; the second shows work on the trackbed in the cutting just to the south on the approach to Nantmor (see below).

The cutting floor was lowered (as seen below on September 4th 2007) so that the track level would match that of the road at the level crossing; the road level had clearly changed in the closure period.

The following pictures were taken on September 19th 2007; the second one shows a culvert being made on the lowered approach to Nantmor Crossing.

At the end of September the trackbed between T4 and the level crossing was ready for ballast.

The trackbed through Cwm Bychan had been ballasted by October 3rd 2007, as seen in this view looking towards Nantmor.

The Rest of the World Gang laid track across Cwm Bychan and through Nantmor Cutting to the limit of ballast near Nantmor Crossing on October 6-7th 2007.

In the preceding week fencing had been added at UB177 and UB178, and scaffolding had been erected either side of the embankment foot at UB178, presumably for attention to its headwalls.

The KMX tamper was at work in Cwm Bychan on October 22nd 2007.

These pictures taken from near the portal of T4 on January 25th 2008 show how the line undulates as it crosses Cwm Bychan and enters the cutting on the approach to Nantmor.

Nantmor Halt [top of page]

A community ballot was held in Nantmor in late February 2007 to gauge residents' opinions as to whether or not reopening a halt at Nantmor would be desirable. The Railway had undertaken not to reopen the halt unless it was wanted by the community, following representations to the 1997-8 Public Inquiry. The Phase 4 funding does not cover a halt, so finances would need to be raised separately, and planning permission would also have to be sought from the Snowdonia National Park Authority. The ballot came out in favour of a halt, by 32 votes to 11.

A planning application for the provision of a halt at Nantmor was submitted to the SNPA in June 2007.

With the planning permission granted Nantmor Halt was constructed in the spring of 2010. The work was funded by donations made in memory of Ben Fisher,  the originator of this website. It is sited on the south side of Nantmor crossing, and the design is similar to other halts on the line with a short platform and a wooden shelter. 

The official opening ceremony was on 26th May 2010 - see latest news.

Since then the halt has seen a rapid increase in usage, notably by walkers, with reports of up to 15 people boarding at a time. The pictures below show the opening ceremony and the plaque dedicating the shelter to Ben Fisher.

Nantmor Halt opening ceremony. (Photo: A.Thomas/FR) Dedication Plaque to Ben Fisher. (Photo: A.Thomas/FR)

As the halt is close to the road crossing,  the loco has to stop well forward of the halt  so that the train is clear of the crossing.  The line curves sharply after the halt,as the pictures show, and the driver is out of sight of the halt when he needs to stop. Marker boards (see final picture) have been installed to indicate the correct stopping points. Because of the curve,  the guard is also unable to see the driver to signal for him to depart, so a signal light operated from the platform is being installed.

(Pictures by Laurence Armstrong)

Nantmor halt approachNantmor halt - looking southNantmor - looking northNantmor - the hutNantmor halt - from the crossingNantmor halt - stop marker

The following pictures show 138 crossing Nantmor Level Crossing and passing the footpath into the Halt.

138 passing over Nantmor Level Crossing - 3rd July 2010 (Photo: L.Armstrong)138 passing through Nantmor Halt - 3rd July 2010 (Photo: L.Armstrong)

Nantmor [top of page]

After the installation of UB182 (see below). the next evidence of railway work was at the site of the old Nantmor Halt, with the arrival of sleeper bundles and a site office container which had previously been at Bryn y Felin. These items were delivered in anticipation of the contract for trackbed refurbishment in this area.

There was a contract split at this point; Nantmor represented the boundary between (a) the contract from Bryn y Felin to here, which was let to G.H. James Cyf in February 2007, and (b) the contract(s) for the trackbed from Nantmor to the north side of the Afon Nanmor bridge.

Prior and subsequent to the start of the James contract, specialist rock contractor Ray Jarvis worked in the cutting between Cwm Bychan and the village, scaling loose rock to ensure the site was safe before the main contractors worked on this section.

While the first contract ended at Nantmor level crossing, a contract was placed at an early stage to repair the cutting south of Nantmor, so that construction of the next section 10 could follow on from Bryn y Felin - Nantmor with all the specialist preparatory work done and out of the way in good time.

Nantmor Level Crossing was installed on Tuesday October 9th 2007. When the picture below was taken on the 7th, short lengths of formation remained to be made up immediately on either side of the crossing, to link it with track laid from the north and completed and ballasted formation to the south; this view is looking south from the crossing.

Brunswick Ironworks in Caernarfon fabricated a tray to be fitted to the sleepers between the rails at the crossing. This was delivered by WHRC Ltd's pick-up truck on October 8th 2007. The tray contains the tarmac road surface and provides flange clearances between the rails.

These pictures show the tray being fitted to the crossing track panel on October 9th 2007, and the panel being moved into place after the necessary gap had been made in the road. Later in the day the crossing was tamped by WHRC Ltd staff, and then volunteers connected the crossing to the track already laid from the north. WHRC Ltd regarded this as the halfway point for Phase 4 tracklaying (including loops, sidings etc).

The first train crossed the crossing on the 10th, and by the end of the day seven more lengths had been laid, taking the Head of Steel to the cutting leading to the embankment repair (see below). Towards the far end of the repair, the sleepers already laid out were to be replaced by South African screw clip ones, as gauge widening was needed on the curve. Also, ballasting right through to UB182 had been completed.

A further six lengths were laid on the 11th, taking track towards the southern end of the repaired section, where staggered pre-curved rails were being used on the South African sleepers.

The curve leading off the repair site was completed on the 12th, putting the Head of Steel on the straight leading to the bridge. The last picture shows Nantmor Crossing looking up chainage.

Five panels were laid on the 13th, reaching the crossing of the old road which was diverted under the bridge in 1922-3.

The Black Hand Gang continued to just short of the bridge on the 14th, meeting the target for the October tracklaying week as well as reaching the effective limit of completed trackbed, ahead of the completion of work on Nantmor Bank (see below).

Embankment Repair [top of page]

Beyond the rock cutting south of Nantmor Halt, the line runs above the A4085 on embankments which had been left quite narrow at the top when completed in 1922-3 (see the pictures below taken in 2005). These follow the line of the road almost all the way to road bridge UB182 (see below). To give a formation of the standard width, these embankments were repaired using one of the various Reinforced Earth techniques, which allows steeper but stable embankment sides while remaining within the original profile at the base. The specific technique that was chosen involved removing material, and then building up the embankment as layers of graded fill wrapped in geotextile, including soil for seeding or planting at the sides.

The contract for trackbed refurbishment from Nantmor level crossing right through to the Afon Nanmor was let to G.H. James Cyf, and their first job on this contract in mid-June 2007 was to start excavation of the embankments as the first stage of the repair.

The following pictures taken on June 26th 2007 give an idea of the scale of the job, with the first one showing the dip at the Nantmor end of the excavation (note the almost hidden dumper), and others showing the retaining walls at the foot of the embankment appearing temporarily to be at surface level.

The embankment site had been almost completely excavated down to base level by July 6th 2007.

Rebuilding of the embankment started in the week beginning July 30th 2007; the contract for this also included refurbishment of the short section between here and road bridge UB182. The first new layer was being laid when seen below on the 31st. The sandy line crossing the trackbed is a stone-capped double channel culvert, UB181.

Three days on from the above pictures, the next one shows a section with the first layer "wrapped" and the second being laid on top of it. The edge of the fill is contained by sandbags, filled with sand or earth-like material. This was then covered in a fibrous matting material. A perforated plastic sheet was then pulled up and over this at both sides, and joined on the top of the layer.

The following pictures show work in progress on August 7th 2007, including mesh for a new reinforced concrete cap for the culvert mentioned above.

The concrete pour for the new cap of UB181 was just getting started (see the middle of the second picture) on the morning of August 10th 2007, with the excavator bucket being used to deliver the concrete from the mixer.

The site is seen below on August 20th 2007. UB181 was complete by this stage, so work could start on remaking the embankment above it.

By the 24th the embankment was reaching an appreciable height, and the steeper sides achieved by the reinforced earth technique were becoming apparent.

The following pictures were taken on September 4th 2007.

These views taken on September 7th 2007 illustrate the retaining wall being incorporated in the uphill side of the embankment, away from the road. The last picture shows UB181 topped with its new plinth, and the new embankment on top of that.

The embankment gradually became more prominent from the public side.

By September 19th 2007 the southern end of the repair was approaching its final height.

By the 28th full height had been reached at the southern end (left) and soon would be at the northern end (right).

The top layer was completed at the north end on October 3rd 2007, and the whole repair was ballasted two days later.

On October 8th 2007 sleepers were laid out throughout the repair site and almost as far as the old road crossing just before UB182; see above for pictures of tracklaying through the site in the following week.

Work in this area revealed a remnant of the metal poles installed between Rhyd Ddu and Croesor Junction as part of the 1922-3 works - unusually tall for telegraph poles, but too late to have been any part of the PB&SSR's earlier electrification plans. The base of one of these poles was unearthed south of Nantmor in July 2007. It bears a raised letter "L" on the outside of the tube (just visible in one picture) but no other obvious marks.

The KMX tamper was at work on the repaired embankment on February 11th 2008; these pictures also illustrate how the pre-seeded embankment sides had greened over quickly even in winter.

The repair site is seen below on September 24th 2008.

UB182 [top of page]

Following the clearance work carried out in early 2005, the first work on the section covered by this page was at the road underbridge south of Nantmor, UB182.

The original bridge deck was unfit for further use, and was replaced with a new steel girder bridge of a slightly simpler design. The original abutments were re-used after minor repairs and modifications.

The old bridge deck was lifted out and removed from site in a very successful operation on the morning of Sunday November 6th 2005. As seen below, it was taken out as a single unit and moved out by road; the handrails and stanchions on one side were cut away, keeping the lorry load within an acceptable width. The time needed for the road closure was kept to a minimum, easily within the one working day anticipated in the official notice.

The design for the replacement deck was approved by independent consulting engineers Mott Macdonald in January 2006, prior to fabrication being put out to tender with a view to early installation of the new deck. See the General Arrangement drawing (PDF, 368 KB).

Bridge design engineer John Sreeves provides the following commentary on the old and new bridges:

Nantmor Road Bridge carries the railway over the A 4085 Beddgelert to Penrhyndeudraeth road about one third of a mile south of Nantmor village. After 6 miles of virtually level embankment north from Porthmadog, the railway starts a steep ascent from the former estuarial plain 300 metres south of the bridge to give about 4.5m headroom over the road.

The former bridge consisted of two riveted plate girders at 1.3m centres, each 9.6m long, and spanning 8.5m between abutments. The beams were linked by transverse pressed steel troughing, which supported longitudinal timbers to which the rails were directly fixed. This arrangement enabled the rail heads to be level with the top flanges, and derailment containment was provided by two angle rubbing strips attached inside the beam flanges. Whether this would have been effective in deflecting wheels without damaging the bridge itself is open to conjecture! Timber walkways were provided either side of the main beams, supported by cantilever angle brackets.

In common with the other bridges dating from 1922, the steelwork was never painted, and had reached an advanced state of corrosion. Riveted plate girders have many corners and crevices where water can be retained and there was significant loss of section in most areas. Repair by welding or bolting on new plates was considered but such a job would be difficult and achieve only a limited life extension, as well as needing a lengthy highway closure. We concluded that a new bridge would be cheaper in the long run, so the old deck was unceremoniously removed on 6 November 2005, this being the last remaining example of 1922 steelwork on the railway.

Replacement options were likely to include pre-cast concrete or steel beams, there being a need to bridge the gap with a minimum of traffic disruption. A ballasted trackbed was desirable to avoid the maintenance problems associated with direct fixing of rails, but to raise the rail levels would have interfered with the gradient profile. It became apparent that a trough form of deck would be necessary, similar to that which existed previously, to enable the track to be positioned between rather than on top of the beams, supported by a transverse structural floor. Furthermore, steel was preferable to pre-cast concrete to keep any increase in dead weight to a minimum.

The abutments are very narrow, with tapered sides. Any increase in deck width would result in the bearings having to be set further back to ensure adequate support, thus requiring deeper and heavier beams. To minimise this effect it was decided to use short non-standard timber sleepers 1.3m long, these being just adequate in length to carry the guard rails. The main deck members will be universal beams 610 x 229 x 140 kg/m set at 1.7m centres. This spacing is only a little wider than before but sufficient to accommodate ballast around the ends of the sleepers, and only minor modifications will be needed to the abutments to accommodate new beam bearings.

The transverse floor linking the two main beams consists of a reinforced concrete slab, supported by permanent formwork and bonded to the girders by studs. An alternative steel 'battle-deck' was considered, but a complex fabrication would have ensued to link the two beams with sufficient rigidity, as well as creating potential corrosion traps. Concrete is simpler to construct and the extra rigidity obtained has the advantage of mitigating any damage sustained in the event of a bridge bash by an over-height road vehicle. The weight to be lifted by crane is 18 tonnes, but this is still less than it would have been for a single wholly pre-cast concrete element.

Cantilever walkways and handrails will be supported by angle brackets either side, to replicate the appearance of the original bridge. For durability the walkways will be steel plate rather than timber, and do not need to carry construction traffic. An edge upstand is added to comply with current safety standards.

All structural members will be galvanised to give long life corrosion resistance, and the inside of the deck trough will be fully waterproofed before being filled with ballast. To aid drainage, a gradient of 1 in 100 will be introduced instead of being flat as previously, and the bridge will be completed by the addition of black and yellow 'wasp stripes' painted on the outer beam faces.

The contract to fabricate the new span was let to D.J. Williams and Son of Caernarfon. The main structure is seen below in the manufacturer's yard on October 6th 2006.

Prior to installation of the new span, minor remedial works were carried out on site to repair and prepare the abutments, necessitating traffic lights while the contractors were on site. The views below show evidence of repairs in hand on the south abutment.

The abutments are seen below on October 22nd, with work having moved on to the northern abutment, and temporary woodwork in place on each side to act as shuttering for concrete repairs.

The new span is seen below at Brunswick Ironworks the same day. By this point the structure had been completed, with the concrete slab cast between the girders (see above). The walkways to either sides, their supporting brackets and the handrails had been removed for separate transport and reassembly on site, as the bridge would be too wide for the lorry with them in place. The third picture shows the very slight arching known as precamber, which has been designed into the structure (girders and slab) to assist drainage and for aesthetic reasons, as a completely flat bridge can appear to sag a little in the middle. The same technique was applied to the river truss bridges as part of the assembly process, whereas the more massive beams of UB182 had to be sent away for bending before assembly.

The bridge was installed on Sunday October 29th 2006, with the road closed immediately either side under a one-day closure order. The span and other components were moved down from Caernarfon by lorry early in the morning, and a test lift was made to check the general fit, and that no more concrete needed to be broken out from the abutments.

The span was then fitted out with its outriggers, handrails, and all the walkway plates except those at each corner, where clearance was needed for the lifting slings; the last plates were fitted after the span was in place. The span was lifted into place at around 2pm, and let down onto the pads at each corner after a minor adjustment at the northern end, where the footing of one handrail had to be cut away.

Bolt and base plate grouting works were done in the weeks after the lift, followed by the addition of concrete masking and ballast containment walls at the ends. The pictures below taken in early January 2007 show these features in place.

The bridge has also become the first to show its future operational numbering, as UB50.01 as opposed to UB182, on the signs giving details of what to do in the event of a road vehicle striking the bridge - in Welsh on the south abutment and English on the north one. Unfortunately something went wrong with the grammar, which was correct when originally submitted...

Nantmor Bank [top of page]

Work on the embankment south of UB182 began early in August 2007; the first two pictures are looking towards UB182 (out of sight), the third is looking south towards the earlier riverbank repairs (see below).

When seen here on September 9th 2007, an appreciable section leading north to the foot of the bank had been hardened; the second picture highlights the abrupt start of the gradient which then continues all the way to the summit of the line.

The contractors are seen below left on the bank on September 17th 2007, when encroaching trees were being felled. In the second picture the bank is seen from the UB182 end on the 23rd. The third and fourth pictures were taken on the 28th.

Widening of the embankment was necessary, and work towards this can be seen on its western side in these pictures taken in early October 2007.

The work was also getting under way on the eastern side on October 8th 2007. This job was on the critical path for this section, with track approaching at an accelerated rate during the October tracklaying week.

G.H. James Cyf are seen at work on Nantmor Bank on October 12th 2007; this picture also gives a good idea of the change of gradient from near level to 1 in 40 at the foot of the bank.

This view of the eastern flank on October 14th 2007 shows fill gaining height to the left of the existing embankment.

Just six days later the embankment looked quite different, with the flanks built up, but with existing material removed from the top at the eroded northern end before making up a sound formation to match the level of the trackbed coming off UB182.

This "Nantmor Ski Jump" feature was only present for a few days, as the contractors moved towards completing the widened embankment to its full height. The first picture below shows the scene on October 24th 2007, and by the time the remaining ones were taken on the 28th, the formation adjacent to the bridge had been remade, using a short length of reinforced earth in three layers with sub-base laid on top of it. Some work remained further south along the embankment where a culvert was being extended to match the new width, and topsoil remained stockpiled along both sides of the embankment, ready to be put back in place.

On November 1st 2007 the soil was being replaced on the sides of the embankment, and it was expected that this section could be ballasted and released for tracklaying in time for the November 10-11th working party.

The embankment was ready for ballast when seen on November 7th 2007.

James started laying ballast down from the bridge on the morning of the 9th, with a view to handing over ballasted trackbed in stages running through into early December, keeping ahead of the tracklaying here and further south.

The Black Hand Gang laid track across UB182 (using special short wooden sleepers on the bridge) on November 10th 2007, and pressed on with the first track on the bank during the remainder of the weekend. At this point ballast reached almost to the foot of the incline.

Over the weekend of November 17-18th 2007 part of the Rest of the World Gang (other members were laying track in the extended carriage shed at Dinas) laid track down towards the foot of the incline - from here to Traeth Mawr is all but level in comparison with what has gone before! On the 17th the track on the bridge was jacked up for ballasting after waterproofing with a bitumen paint, replacing the coating originally applied to the bridge, which had not lasted. Upnor Castle was back on duty, having spent some weeks back at Dinas for drive chain renewal.

Upnor is seen in the first picture on November 19th 2007 collecting rails left in the "two foot" at Aberglaslyn, to move them forward for laying at the start of the November tracklaying week. Dolgarrog usually did this job, but was suffering from a mechanical problem. At the end of the day's work the Head of Steel was virtually at the entry to the riverbank site, where the formation was being set out and made up (see below) to join up with completed trackbed a short distance beyond.

Top ballasting was done across UB182 and down Nantmor Bank on November 30th 2007 (these pictures are just on the Nantmor side of the bridge). These were some of the last wagonloads of ballast brought all the way down from Rhyd Ddu before ballast deliveries and loading switched to the new Hafod y Llyn base (below).

The tamper and ballast plough were in action on Nantmor Bank on February 13th 2008.

Gales in mid-March 2008 brought down a tree near the foot of the bank, and another one further north near Beddgelert cemetery.

These July and September 2008 shots looking up and down the bank give a good impression of the railway nearing completion - track top ballasted and tamped, fencing and accommodation crossing done - and blending into its surroundings.

Riverbank Repairs [top of page]

In mid-March 2007 G.H. James Cyf were at work on repairs to the bank of the Glaslyn near the south end of Nantmor Bank; the riverbank had eroded in this area where the river, railway and private road to Hafod y Llyn are in close proximity. This was an isolated work site, being dealt with well in advance of the rest of the Nantmor - UB196 section as it needed to be done before the fish spawning season. Contractors Morrison attended to a buried electricity cable below the site before the start of the repair work. In some of the pictures looking north, the as yet untouched trackbed appears as a clear green line.

The site is seen below on April 7th 2007. At the north end of the repair, the channel of culvert UB187 shows the position of the trackbed relative to the rest of the site.

The repair work was completed on September 17th 2007. Willow stems were lashed to the stones forming the terraces below the formation and buried under topsoil, the idea being that the willows would quickly root to disguise the harsh appearance of the stones and provide an invaluable invertebrate wildlife habitat.

UB187 had been newly rebuilt using concrete pipe when seen below on November 4th 2007; it runs across in front of the excavator, in line with the temporary steel plate in the roadway to the right.

These views show the site three days later.

When seen on November 18th 2007 the formation was in the latter stages of being made up on the gentle curve through the repair site, with track approaching fast from the Nantmor direction. The site represented a short temporary gap in the ballast bed which was already being laid to the south.

The following day, setting out operations were in progress between the contractors and the track laying volunteers (visible at the foot of Nantmor Bank in the first picture).

Work on November 20th 2007 took tracklaying right through the riverbank site and beyond. The turnout for Hafod y Llyn siding (see below) was delivered (as usual in two sections) by 0845, and by the end of the day the Head of Steel was well within sight of it, and ballast had been laid for the siding. This turnout had previously been behind Dinas carriage shed before it was extended.

The fence between the railway and the lane was being erected on April 2nd 2008.

Hafod y Llyn Siding/Loop [top of page]

Immediately to the south of the repair site, the roadway and trackbed are in immediate proximity, with a rock face close to the eastern side of the roadway.

The roadway then swings away for a distance, and by April 2007 the trackbed had been fenced along this length as far as just short of the site of a former crossing at LC96 (eliminated by later developments for this area), where the roadway met the trackbed, close to culvert UB188. South of here the trackbed was in use as the continuation of the roadway to Hafod y Llyn farm; mitigation works included a replacement for this.

The trackbed from the point where the lane and railway swing away from each other to the southern end of the old Hafod y Llyn halt was identified as a possible passing loop, very close to half way between Beddgelert and Pont Croesor. The trackbed was thus made up to double width in anticipation of this.

When seen on October 18th and 20th 2007, the last of the stone pile north of LC96 (see above and below) had all been moved north for use on Nantmor Bank, and the contractors were making up the trackbed northwards to the riverbank repair, laying sub-base over a membrane.

This picture shows the trackbed with membrane at the site where the stone pile had been, on October 29th 2007.

A siding was installed at the loop site, and Dolgarrog's container shed was moved down from Rhyd Ddu; this location formed a useful temporary base for tracklaying southwards to Traeth Mawr.

The widened trackbed at the loop site was almost complete by November 11th 2007.

These views show parts of the site on November 15th 2007. The turnout location is at the north end of the loop.

Ballasting of the main line through the site had started when seen three days later. The last picture shows the southern end of the widened formation, just beyond the pile of stone, which was being used to make up the short dip which the contractors had been using for machinery to access the trackbed.

On November 21st 2007 track reached the siding turnout delivered the day before (see above), and extended two panels beyond it by the end of the day (please make allowances for focus! - pictures taken in very low light).

Another six panels were laid on the 22nd.

On Friday 23rd the weekday working party concluded its work by laying the siding ready for the container shed ("Plas Dolgarrog") to be moved down from Rhyd Ddu, and also pushed the Head of Steel onwards to farm crossing LC96. The second row of pictures shows track laid earlier in the week.

At this point ballast extended about 350m ahead of the track, and it was expected that this length would effectively treble by the end of November, as James worked on ballasting the long straight to Hafod y Llyn Isaf, and then completing the short section onwards to the Afon Nanmor. As this contract wound down they began moving back to the base at LC112 (near Ynysfor) to complete the previous winter's work on the far side of the Afon Nanmor bridge.

The Black Hand Gang laid the length from LC96 to LC97 on November 24th 2007.On the 25th they pressed on beyond the south end of the loop site, laying a total of eleven panels over the weekend. A temporary timbered crossing was provided at LC96 for the farmer to gain access to the western side.

Also, over the weekend 51 rails were unloaded from the transporter into the "two foot" behind the Head of Steel. This process had not been illustrated before on the site; the rails (in the bundles of three in which they arrived from Poland) were attached to sleepers using chains, and the works train moved foward.

The Rest of the World Gang extended the siding beyond the ballast bed on December 1st 2007, with a transition on to wooden sleepers. At this point Dolgarrog's container remained at Rhyd Ddu, and the loco itself was at Dinas awaiting repair.

"Plas Dolgarrog" was moved from Rhyd Ddu and put in position on the siding in mid-December 2007.

These views from February 6th and 7th 2008 show the rail transporter parked in the siding, and the loading point for the ballast train at the south end of the widened formation beyond it.

The turnout for the south end of the future loop was installed immediately south of LC97 by the Rest of the World Gang in foul conditions on August 9th 2008, with a gap just to the north caused by the work relaid the next day. The opportunity was also taken to open up gaps between rails on four panels to the south, as the gaps had closed up owing to tamping. At this time the loop formation was in use as a ballast pile.

This location was for a time due to be designated "Hen Hafod", as there is already a location named Hafod y Llyn on the FR (the site of the early station that was replaced by Tan y Bwlch). However, following representations from the railway's neighbours at this location, the name Hafod y Llyn is being retained.

Upnor Castle was back at the Hafod y Llyn base by the end of December 2008, following attention to various ailments at Dinas.

Public services are due to be extended from Beddgelert to Hafod y Llyn on May 22nd 2009. The loop is due to be completed so that trains can reverse here without needing a shunting loco. It will not be possible to join or leave the train here. The line from Hafod y Llyn to Porthmadog will remain under the possession of the construction company until it is handed over to the FR ahead of opening later in the year.

When seen on March 22nd 2009 the container sheds had been removed (without "Plas Dolgarrog" ever having housed Dolgarrog at this location), and there were signs of preparation of the formation to complete the loop. The ballast wagons and KMX tamper which had recently been based at Hafod y Llyn had been taken up to Rhyd Ddu.

The loop is fitted with an Automatic Trailing Point mechanisms at the north end. Work towards the installation began on April 7th 2009 with timbers put in place to form a plinth for the mechanism at the Caernarfon end of the loop.

It was decided to shorten the originally planned length of the loop by some 100 metres, to the minimum length needed for running round trains of the lengths being run in the 2009 season. This would leave the south end of the full loop site available as a ballast delivery point for top ballasting work being done south of Hafod y Llyn prior to reopening to Porthmadog.

Over the weekend of April 18-19th 2009 the Rest of the World Gang moved the south turnout they had laid in 2008 to its new position, and carried out consequent work involving unclipping and re-gapping ten panels of track to the south of the turnout's new location, and re-making two occupation crossings that would no longer need to cross two lines of rails instead of one. With this work done, only just over one panel of track remained to be laid to join the south end of the existing siding to the points. At the south end of the loop, a conduit was laid under the adjacent roadway for telephone cables.

The Black Hand Gang finished connecting up the shortened loop on April 26th 2009.

The Tuesday Gang installed the trailable point mechanism at the north end of the loop on April 28th 2009. The electrical equipment (indicator light etc) associated with this hydraulic mechanism will be solar-powered, with battery backup, as the location is remote from any easily connected electrical supply.

Almost as soon as the loop had been shortened, the decision was taken to lengthen it again. Over the May 2nd-4th 2009 Bank Holiday weekend the Rest of the World Gang therefore found themselves undoing their own previous work as well as that of the BHG, and the south points were placed approximately one and a half panels south of LC96. Train services were extended from Beddgelert to Hafod y Llyn on May 21st 2009.

Although passengers are not allowed to embark or disembark at Hafod y Llyn, a small platform is being provided for emergency and operational purposes. It was partly built (from stone and ash) when seen below on July 5th 2009. Located towards the north end of the loop, it provides direct access from the adjacent lane.

Hafod y Llyn - Afon Nanmor [top of page]

Before work could start on the trackbed south from the old Hafod y Llyn halt, it was necessary to provide a new private roadway to Hafod y Llyn Isaf farm, as the trackbed had been in use for access. The southwards view below shows the new roadway, with construction plant visible in the distance.

The trackbed north of LC96 accommodated a substantial temporary store for the stone for this work, and then infill and hardening of the trackbed; James established a small work base slightly further north, at the riverbank repair site. The stone came from the Nantmor embankment renewal job. The third picture below shows where the construction access for the new roadway diverges from the trackbed. The fourth and fifth pictures were taken further south; the surface was dressed with a finer grade of stone before completion.

The contract for the whole section from the foot of Nantmor Bank to the Afon Nanmor was let to G.H James Cyf, with work starting on July 30th 2007. By August 20th the trackbed down towards Hafod y Llyn Isaf was essentially ready for ballast, but was still in use for vehicular access pending completion of the parallel roadway.

The roadway and trackbed are visible in the centre of this distant view.

The view below is looking south close to the southern end of the roadway at Hafod y Llyn Isaf on September 4th 2007. The trackbed (right) curves round the rocky outcrop behind the car in the background to approach the Afon Nanmor.

By September 9th 2007 the making of the roadway had used up a substantial part of the stone pile - previously the substandard embankment south of Nantmor - and the trackbed had been closed off as the roadway had been brought into use. Contractors had started culvert work on the trackbed south of the old halt.

The drainage work in progress on September 14th 2007 included excavating the cesses alongside the trackbed.

New culverts had been provided with temporary sandbag headwalls when seen on September 23rd 2007, and sub-base had been rolled on the trackbed to the north.

These pictures show rolled sub-base on the trackbed at Hafod y Llyn Isaf on October 13th and 18th 2007, with the trackbed curving round the rock outcrop towards the Afon Nanmor yet to be tackled; initial clearance of this section began in late October.

These pictures taken on October 29th and November 1st 2007 show (left) the old halt site with the new north end of the roadway being driven through it (trackbed to the right), more metal poles (see above) recovered near the loop site, then cleared trackbed near the Afon Nanmor bridge, and finally the Afon Nanmor bridge, with stone piled up on the far side. Once the UB182-UB196 contract was finished, G.H. James Cyf returned to the UB196-LC112 stretch on the far side of the river to complete it ready for tracklaying.

In these November 7th 2007 views, the trackbed parallel to the roadway was being raised to ts final level (left), and James were at work (right) on the section beyond the roadway leading to the bridge.

This picture taken on November 24th 2007, a very short distance north of Hafod y Llyn Isaf, shows the difference between freshly laid sub-base (left) and the result after attention from the vibrating rollers visible in several photos.

These shots were taken on the same day between Hafod y Llyn Isaf and the Afon Nanmor.

On November 30th 2007 the ballast was approaching Hafod y Llyn Isaf.

On the same day work was well advanced on the trackbed approaching the Afon Nanmor, and also on a new path outside the railway fencing. James were on course to hand over ballasted trackbed through to the river bridge by December 7th.

The approach to the bridge was in the process of being laid when seen here on December 4th 2007.

This section of trackbed up to the bridge was almost complete and ready for ballast on December 7th 2007, together with the path and its approach to the public walkway on the downstream side of the bridge (a fall plate from abutment to bridge was yet to be installed).

Tracklaying was pressing ahead in the section south of the loop site on December 1st and 2nd 2007.

The Black Hand Gang continued towards the southern end of the straight (there is then a gentle curve on the approach to Hafod y Llyn Isaf) over the very wet weekend of December 8-9th 2007.

Ballast had very recently reached the end of the section at UB196 when seen on December 11th 2007.

These pictures taken on December 14th 2007 show ballasted trackbed further back, at the curve north of Hafod y Llyn Isaf. The new roadway had been given its final dressing, and the left-hand picture shows a newly created passing place for vehicles adjacent to LC102.

The cold but sunny weekend of December 15-16th 2007 saw the Rest of the World Gang take the Head of Steel past the end of the long straight and into the gentle left-hand curve which is then followed by a similar one to the right on the approach to Hafod y Llyn Isaf. The return to curves meant a return to staggered rail joints and the associated trimming of rail ends (last picture).

A curious find alongside the trackbed between the Head of Steel and Hafod y Llyn Isaf was this short end of a length of very light section iron bridge rail, of a type used in some quarries; this is not at all the same type of rail as the numerous lengths of T-bulb rail discovered at locations between Pitt's Head and Cwm Cloch. It got to Hafod y Llyn as part of a delivery of crushed slate waste from Llechwedd Quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog; a similar piece was found among crushed slate at the Nantmor embankment.

An additional four-day working party started on December 27th 2007, and these scenes show the Head of Steel making progress past Hafod y Llyn Isaf, where the accomodation crossing to farmland west of the railway was put in place on the 29th, using wooden baulks and slate waste (the previous day, the local pigs had decided to investigate if the plastic pads were edible!), and through the curves to face the Afon Nanmor bridge. Seven panels were laid on the 27th, eight on the 28th, and nine and a half on the 29th.

Track reached the bridge site on the last day of the working party on December 30th 2007. As at Bryn y Felin, wooden sleepers were laid out on the immediate approach to the bridge, and although track did not quite reach the bridge, a pair of rails were put in position on the bridge deck ready to be fixed down. It was found that a little surgery was needed on a gorse bush at the rock outcrop at the curve between Hafod y Llyn Isaf and the bridge.

These pictures show the line near Hafod y Llyn Isaf on February 6th 2008, with rails stored in the "two foot" in the first one.

A works train returning from Pont Croesor to the Hafod y Llyn base is seen below passing Hafod y Llyn Isaf on August 10th 2008.

The Black Hand Gang returned to this section on May 23rd 2009, carrying out bush and branch clearance (here and south as far as OB217) where the previous weekend's sponsors' trains to Cae Pawb had revealed that this needed doing.

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Maintained by Ben Fisher; last updated July 8th, 2009