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23rd July, 2015


The old Aluminium wharf is not quite the most exciting berth we take the ship alongside, but what it lacks in looks it really makes up for in tour possibilities, and in fact local hospitality. There were some great excursions on offer, including ‘The coastline of Anglesey’, ‘Bodnant Gardens’, a superb garden created by generations of the Aberconway family and overlooking the River Conwy. ‘Snowdonia Panoramic’ took folks across the Menai Strait to Caernarfon and its Castle, then on to Llanberis and Betws y Coed.

I had considered taking the journey up to the summit of Snowdon on the rack railway; however on this occasion it was to be propelled by a diesel locomotive and for me that meant there would be just a little something missing. I opted to hitch a ride on the coach though, and then crossed the road at Llanberis in order to take a journey on the Lake Railway. This part of Wales is steeped in the history of the slate industry and the Padarn Country Park has the remains of the Dinorwic Quarry which finally closed its doors in 1969. Now there is the impressive National Slate Museum set in the original buildings.

The Lake railway has three of the original narrow gauge ‘Quarry Hunslett’ steam locomotives back in service and they carry visitors along the bank of Llyn Padarn. These are brightly painted little locomotives lovingly restored that make the five mile return journey, gently rocking and rolling along track that has been laid over the original path that slate trains would have followed towards a little port on the Menai Strait at Y Felinhell.

The museum at Gilfach Ddu is full of industrial memorabilia and, along with various archive film and live slate cutting displays, brings the industry back to life. Above the railway the remains of the quarry still dominates, a great grey jagged valley set into the mountain that is Elidir.

By the time we returned to the ship preparations were already being made to sail. It meant a change into uniform and back onto the bridge. As we backed out from the berth a charming young lady sang at the quayside in farewell, her voice so clear and distinct. It left a lasting memory of our call to Wales.

Captain Philip Rentell

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