Welshpool. An Unexpected Journey.

It was towards the end of October and the weather had picked itself up from the grey doldrums. Not wanting to waste this bonus of sunshine I took myself off by train. I had decided to go down to the Welsh borderlands and travelled on to Chester and then Shrewsbury. It’s a pleasant, easy journey that I’ve taken quite a few times.

From Shrewsbury I decided to head out to the market town of Welshpool, it sits on the Montgomery Canal and it’s an area I know little if anything about. If nothing else it would be an interesting journey, I would have a meal and pick up ideas for next years when the longer, warmer days return.

The journey out wasn’t a long one and the station at Welshpool is not too far from the town centre. The old station building is no longer in use by the railway but instead is now a shopping centre in the renovated building.

I knew that Welshpool was served by one of the many preserved narrow gauge lines that are a feature of Wales, the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, so I made my way over to the station at Raven Square to see what information was available for future planning. The railway has it’s beginnings in attempts to increase access to the farms and villages in the valleys higher up in the hills and at one time it ran right through then town to the station on the main line. Unfortunately between it’s closure and reopening at the hands of volunteers the stretch through the town was lost.

When I got to the station, it’s not a long walk and it was a really pleasant day, I found that I was only fifteen minutes away from a departure so I took advantage of this stroke of luck and had an extremely enjoyable journey along the valley of the River Banwy to the terminus at Llanfair Caereinion and a lunch in the pleasant station cafe.

It’s definitely on my list for a revisit in 2019.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL. The Powysland Museum.

WELSHPOOL. The Powysland Museum on the Montgomery Canal. The museum has its roots in the Powysland Club which was formed in the 1860’s by a group of like minded souls who had in interest in the history of the area, since 1990 the museum has been based in the warehouse alongside the Mongomery Canal. the canal is undergoing a proces of restoration after many years of decline where stretches of it became un-navigable through a build up of rubbish or by draining.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL. Broad Street.

WELSHPOOL. Looking up Broad Street, one of the main shopping streets in the town. In the distance is the tower of the town hall, the town’s market which is open Monday to Saturday, is housed in the ground floor of the town hall. Up until the early 1830’s Welshpool, four miles from the border with England, was known simply as Pool, the Welsh was added to avoid confusion with Poole in Dorset.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square

WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square Station which lie just on the edge of the town centre. Originally when built the railway carried on through then centre of Welshpool to link up with the main line at the Cambrian Railways station on the opposite side of the town. The station buildings were obtained from Eardisley in Herefordshire and rebuilt to form the Raven Square station.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square

WELSHPOOL. The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s Raven Square station, the two o’clock departure to Llanfair Caereinion gets ready to leave. Because the railway’s guage of 2’6″ is an unusual one in the UK the railway has sourced carriaged from abroad giving the trains an individual and continental look.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square

WELSHPOOL. The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s Raven Square station, the two o’clock departure to Llanfair Caereinion gets ready to leave. Loco 823 Countess swaps ends for the jopurney back up to Llanfair. The loco is one of the two original locomotives built for the line’s opening in1903, the other being the Earl. Their names are in honour of the Earl and Countess of Powis who were heavily involved in the beginnings of the line.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL. Refilling The Boiler.

WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square Station refilling the boiler of loco 823 Countess ready for the next journey out to Llanfair. There’s a lot of heavy work involved in running a light railway.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL& Llanfair Light Rly. Through The Trees.

WELSHPOOL. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, running through the trees near Llanfair. The railway takes and eight mile route from Welshpool to Llanfair Caereinion along the valley of the River Banwy.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL& Llanfair Light Rly. Lineside.

WELSHPOOL. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, lineside views near Sylfaen.

20/10/18  LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railwa

LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. 823 Countess at the country terminus and headquarters of the railway.

20/10/18  LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railwa

LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. loco No 85 a former Sierra Leone Ralways locomotive built by Hunslett of Leeds. The loco is currently awaiting restoration.

20/10/18  LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railwa

LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. The station at Llanfair, headquarters and engineering base for the railway. The attractive little village is situated by the River Banwy which can be enjoyed by a series of walks from the station.

 

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Liverpool. Passing Through Lime Street Station.

I had a day turn up where I had nothing that I really needed to get done, so rather than waste this unexpected bonus I decided on a trip out on the train. My ‘free’ day was a Thursday which meant that it would be market day in Ormskirk, a market town not too far away in West Lancashire. The journey by rail involves travelling into Liverpool and back out again. That’s not as complicated as it sounds as there are excellent services in both directions. Readers of my blog, if you are one, thank you, will know that I visited the Cobble Cafe in Ormskirk for a bowl of hot soup a little while ago.

15/02/18  LIVERPOOL. Lime Street Station. Concourse.

LIVERPOOL. Lime Street station, the concourse.

Lime Street station sits at the end of the Liverpool to Manchester route created by Stephenson. The original terminus was in Crown Street, which while it was easier to construct in engineering terms, was a little too far out from the city centre to be either convenient or competitive. This lead to the building of Lime Street in 1836. Construction was not without it’s challenges, the principal one being the steep gradient down from the junction with the Crown Street route at Edge hill on the City’s outskirts. Now a steep sided cutting the route was initially a dark, satanic tunnel cut through the sandstone ridge. Something which must have tested the nerves of those early railway passengers.

The traveler’s destination is a grand terminus under an arching roof, one of the oldest functioning termini in the country. The frontage, facing St. George’s Hall sitting loftily on it’s plateau, was an imposing hotel which is now given over to student accommodation. I wonder what they think of living in a building that on it’s opening was described as looking like Dracula’s Castle.

15/02/18  LIVERPOOL. Lime Street Station. Concourse.

LIVERPOOL. Lime Street station, the concourse, main line platforms.

 

The station is home to a large array of main line and local services, plus tucked away in their own tunnels beneath are parts of the Merseyrail suburban network. Currently a rebuilding program is in progress with a view to adding more capacity and bringing the promise of direct services to Scotland in the next year or so.

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Edinburgh. A Drink in An Elegant Bar.

It was a friend’s 50th birthday and he decided that an appropriate way to celebrate would be lunch in Edinburgh at the Malt Whisky Society. Three of the attendee’s, Andrew the birthday boy, Niall and myself live in Lancashire, the fourth guest, Gavin lives on the outskirts of Inverness. So train tickets were booked and lunch reservations made.

A travel note, it took as long for Gavin to travel from Inverness to Edinburgh as it did for us to travel up from England, Scotland is by no means a small country.

We all rendezvoused in Jenner’s cafe overlooking Princes Street, there’s a photo of it in a previous Edinburgh post. After a coffee and catching up session it was a taxi to the Malt Whisky Society in Leith where excellent food was provided along with excellent wine. The finale being a measure of a gorgeous cask strength Bowmore single malt.

Extremely happy and satisfied we made our way back into Edinburgh ready for our early evening trains home. There was time in hand though for one last relaxing drink, a little bit of head scratching produced the Cafe Royal in West Register Street, just off Princes Street and convenient for Edinburgh’s Waverley station.

A quiet drink was had in the elegant surroundings and was the perfect end note to what had been a very, very pleasant day.

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Edinburgh. City At Festival Time.

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Edinburgh. City At Festival Time.

 

A few days ago I took a train journey up to one of my favourite destinations, Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Scotland’s a place I have been travelling to for many years, my connection being my late father who was a Scot from the Lanarkshire area. The reason, or excuse for this latest trip was that fact that the Edinburgh Festival which always adds an extra dimension to the attractions of the city.

It was to be a day trip, something which is easily managed from where I live in Lancashire, the journey time is about two and a half hours also on this trip I travelled by first class which made it even more of a pleasure than usual. So after an excellent breakfast on the train and a lot of window gazing I landed up at Edinburgh’s Waverley station, nestling in it’s narrow valley between the castle on it’s rock and the well tended greenery of Princes Street Gardens. The station is always a busy, bustling place and some aspects of it’s layout can confuse the traveller unused to it’s ways.

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My Eggs Benedict, a very enjoyable way to start a train journey.

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The always busy  Waverley Station concourse.

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Yes, its the same platform, just remember which end of it you want.

I left the station by the Waverley Steps, a brisk way to leave the station and get myself onto Princes Street. The festival had started the previous week so it was now into it’s stride. I took a walk up to St. Andrew’s Square to get a flavour of the atmosphere, Festival time the square is a popular venue site with pop up arenas and bars.

After an hour or so of people watching I was making my way back towards Princes Street and I decide to stop off at Jenner’s, an Edinburgh department store of some repute. There is a cafe on the top floor which gives and excellent view over the gardens and across to the castle. So I took in this marvellous view while I enjoyed my sandwich and coffee.

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Cafe at Jenners

I like exploring places on foot and Edinburgh is a great city to do this in. I made my way along Princes Street and then up Lothian Road to the district of Morningside, Passing by one of Edinburgh’s great open spaces, Bruntsfield Links. This area is a hive of independent shops and cafes and is one I like to visit with my camera and people watch.

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Jogging by a Bruntsfield Cafe

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Keeping an eye on Morningside.

It was now time to make my way back to the city centre and the Royal Mile to take in the atmosphere of the Fringe performers on the preview stages. The route I chose took me across The Meadows and along the George IV Bridge. Built in the late 1820’s to span one of the many valleys that cut into the city centre this doesn’t look very bridge like as you walk along it, as over the years Edinburgh has crept up on it and absorbed it. It leads you past Greyfriars Kirkyard, the cafe where Harry Potter came into being and onto the Royal Mile by St. Giles Cathedral.

This is the hub of the previews for the shows and is always a must see destination as the performers do their best to drum up and cajole and audience for their own particular show.

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Bright colours to bring in the crowds

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The cathedral looks on as another story unfolds.

So that is a flavour of my Edinburgh trip, it’s a brilliant city to visit in it’s own right and when the festival is on even more so.

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Perth,Waiting On A Night Time Station

I’m half Scots, my late father came from a small ironworks town in the middle of industrial Lanarkshire and through him I have a great affection for Scotland and try to get there as often as I can. Up until a couple of years ago I would go up and stay on the outskirts of Dunkeld on the fringe of the Highlands, so I could soak up the peace and quiet of a slower pace of life for a couple of weeks. Circumstances have put a temporary halt to the long Scottish stay but I am working on getting back into that routine again asap.

On one of my last stays a friend asked to come up and spend a weekend walking in the area and that was fine by me, it would be a chance to show off my northern hideaway. Niall would be travelling up by train so we arranged to meet on the station, his train would be arriving in Perth at about 9.15 in the evening.

To be on the safe side I made sure I arrived a little early as it would also be a chance to take some evening photographs around Perth and chase down a coffee and cake. After adding to my waistline I made my way over to the station and checked which platform Niall’s train would be arriving at.

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PERTH. Solitary passenger waiting for the Dundee train

Like the majority of UK railway stations, Perth’s grew up in a slightly piecemeal way through the great Victorian railway boom. It had it’s origins in the late 1840’s with a line up from Glasgow which terminated in the town. Over the succeeding years lines came in from Dundee along the Firth Of Tay while others headed northwards through the Highlands to Inverness and beyond.

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PERTH. Looking along platform 2 towards Dundee

I always feel that there’s a particular atmosphere about railway station at night, a mixture of the sinister and the romantic. This is particularly so at Perth, the buildings being designed by the eminent Victorian architect Sir William Tite, the adjacent station hotel has the bulk and presence of a Scottish Baronial castle. Always having a camera with me I spent the 20 minutes or so before arrival time taking a walk around the large open platform spaces.

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PERTH. The footbridge, a recent addition and not popular as you have to go out into the rain to use it and there are already stairs and ramps in the original building.

The station’s shape is a large main group of platforms that serve the route to Inverness and in years past branch lines that were closed down in the unfortunate clearing out of the Beeching years. These are joined by two platforms which are served by the line coming in from Dundee, this passes over the south of the city centre after crossing the River Tay. There’s a more regular service on these platforms. The trains through here go on to serve Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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PERTH. Lights glittering on platform 1, wait here for trains to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Here and there people waited for their train, some on the northbound platform and some waiting for a train out to Dundee or Aberdeen. There was a general quietness about the place, only disturbed by the distant, steady rumble of the idling diesel engines of a train waiting for it’s next journey. Before long Niall’s train rumbled in, we said hello and made our way back to Dunkeld after a shortish visit to a local bar for me to warm up a little and for Niall to unwind a little.

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Cheese on Toast In A Blackpool Cafe

If only walls could talk as the old saying goes. I had decided to take a trip out to Blackpool, it was still a little early in the year and so the days were a bit on the short side. To make the most of the available time I decided I would drive but that I would park my car at Fleetwood and use Blackpool’s world famous trams to get about. There is a day ticket which covers both the tram service and the bus network. So after I had parked the car and grabbed a quick-ish coffee I walked over to the tram terminus and boarded and was on my way.

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One of Blackpool’s new trams.

Blackpool’s trams operate from Fleetwood in the north, down the promenade through Blackpool itself to the southern terminus at Squires Gate. Travelling south the Irish Sea is on your right and depending on the day’s weather and tide is either forbiddingly gloomy or as on the day of my trip, a sparkling ribbon on a distant horizon.

A ride on a Blackpool tram is always an interesting affair as you cross paths with other people’s lives. Catch happy or otherwise expressions or dip unintentionally into conversations that are not as private as the participants would like to think. For this journey I travelled down as far as the South Pier, one of three that Blackpool proudly possesses, I crossed over from the promenade and made my way up Waterloo Road This was a busy part of town which faded a little, though now it’s on the way back up after some refurbishment. Blackpool South railway station is at the top of the street, though it is now very much a pale, single platform shadow of it’s former self but the station still has an hourly service through Preston to East Lancashire so it still can be a busy place.

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Blackpool South railway Station.

By this time my internal clock was telling me that food would be a good idea. One of the many delights of Blackpool is the almost endless supply of cafes and tearooms. I chose one, went in, checked the menu and ordered cheese on toast, a personal favourite and a mug of coffee. I had picked a corner booth from where I could watch the coming and goings. I have a great affection for places like this cafe, one that has it’s regulars, customers who don’t need to order at the counter, their meal is almost ready the minute they step through the door.

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Lunch for two on Waterloo Road Blackpool.

Two sets of people caught my eye almost immediately. The Lady in the header photo and the couple. The Lady on her own was sat at her table and radiated a sort of inner peace and calm. Her expression throughout was one of reflection and meditation. As though she was happily engaged in turning over in her mind past personal events and happenings. The couple were sat at a table near to the Lady. Their conversation was polite and considered, as though they had reached the stage of a comfortable form of conversational shorthand, where whole sentences could be conveyed in a couple of words and a glance.

It began to feel as if I was a theatre play or a film. I ordered another coffee and a cake so I could spend a little more time watching these quiet events unfold, like the petals of a flower in the sun. But eventually it was time for me to go so as discretely as possible I clicked the shutter. on my little ‘go-everywhere’ camera and made my exit.

I will go back, the coffee and the cheese on toast were both excellent but I really want to see if I can catch any more of the quiet drama of everyday Blackpool folk playing out

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Waiting On Liverpool Central Station

I had a journey to make and part of that journey took my into Liverpool, not far from where I live. I was using the train to get from A to B and after I arrived at Liverpool’s Lime Street station I took the short walk through the streets to the central station. This is the hub of Liverpool’s Merseyrail network, an extensive set of routes running as far as Chester, up the Lancashire coast to Southport and under the River Mersey to destinations on the Wirral such as West Kirkby and New Brighton.

It was still quite early in the day so the single island platform was relatively quiet. The station at Liverpool Central is an underground one so there is a certain cavern ambience to be enjoyed while you are waiting.

Like all photographer/bloggers I always have a camera of some sort with me, so I was able to capture this shot. The guy was sat very quietly, there was what I took to be an instrument case by his side, a slim-ish, oblong affair, guitar? Keyboard? Don’t know. I’m guessing that he had been out to a gig the night before and this was his journey back the morning after. There was an individuality in his style. The sheepskin coat, black jeans, cowboy boots, together with whatever instrument he played. I quietly took a couple of candid shots, partly because I didn’t want to intrude also there was a completeness about the scene that I didn’t want to risk spoiling.

There was something of an album cover about the whole set up so that decided me to square up the framing and opt for a black and white desaturation with Photoshop elements. The black and white option was made a little easier because as I said, being a underground station the light levels aren’t overly generous and using flash on a live railway setting is highly stupid and unsafe, quite apart from a sudden bright burst of light making a subtle candid shot very much less so.

I still wonder if it would have been worth taking the brave pills and asking for a front shot, I don’t know, it wouldn’t have been spontaneous then, it would have risked a certain artificiality. Who knows I might bump into him again if I’m travelling through Liverpool

early one morning.

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