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a174 The WHR are hoping that all the residents of Beddgelert will
benefit from the new line and that it will bring prosperity to this
part of Wales, with up to four trains a day transporting tourists
to the village.
The Ffestiniog Railway Company also employs 60 full time staff,
and since work began on the railway 12 years ago, it’s been
estimated that £60m has been returned to the local economy.
Not everyone welcomes the new railway, however. A small
number of local residents who live close to the line opposed it on
environmental grounds, arguing it would disrupt wildlife and alter
the natural aesthetics of the surrounding area. A small
demonstration was held just outside Beddgelert where residents
held placards stating their points of view. There have also been
objections from farmers whose land has been severed by the line.
Alasdair Stewart, the civil engineering manager, however, argues
convincingly on all of these points. “There will only be three to
four trains a day and the railway doesn’t run at night, so the
impact on a daily basis will be small,” he says. “The railway is also
environmentally friendly, because the land is not grazed near the
tracks and there are no pesticides used. This creates a corridor for
wildlife to thrive. We’ve also created accommodation for bats in the
bridges and there are great crested newts near the line.”
Allaboard The residents of Beddgelert eagerly await the train before their
On the 16-and-a-half mile journey back to Caernarfon, the
complimentary journey (above) from their picturesque village (below)
numerous wild birds and domestic animals by the side of the line
seem used to the trains and barely flinch. And while it’s obvious
where the new track has been built, it’s clear that new shoots of Enjoying these wonderful views from a comfortable window
trees, bushes and flowers are already starting to push through. seat is Ffestiniog Railway’s Dr John Prideaux who helped make
today a reality.
Spectacular views “This is a really proud day for me because people came together
The views from the carriages are certainly dramatic, as the train and made this happen,” he says. “It is a community in the hills.
plummets from more than 650ft high down to sea level, in the The small gauge railway was invented in north Wales and the
shadow of Mount Snowdon. As the locomotive clings to the Pullman carriage at the front of the train was built near
side of mountains, through tunnels and round horseshoe bends, Porthmadog. Everyone involved is passionate about the railway.
lakes, waterfalls, forests and rolling farmland can all be seen They put their heart and souls into it.”
just feet away. Formerly the boss of British Rail and the man in charge of the
The next stage of the line from Beddgelert through the Aberglaslyn new channel tunnel route to St Pancras, John clearly has a love
Pass to Porthmadog promises to be even more spectacular. of railways and is passionate about this venture. a174
Gelert’s grave
InafieldbytheriverstandsGelert’sGrave,hencethevillagename
Beddgelert.Accordingtolegend,thestonemonumentmarksthefinal
restingplaceofPrinceLlywelyn’sfaithfulhoundGelert.Thedogis
allegedtohavebelongedtoLlywelyntheGreat,PrinceofGwynedd,and
tohavebeenagiftfromKingJohnofEngland.Inthestory,Llywelyn
returnsfromhuntingtofindhisbaby’scradleoverturned,thebaby
missingandthedogwithbloodarounditsmouth.Imaginingthatithas
savagedthechild,hedrawshisswordandkillsthedog,whichletsouta
finaldyingyelp.Hethenhearsthecriesofthebabyandfindsit
unharmedunderthecradle,alongwithadeadwolfwhichhadattacked
thechildandbeenkilledbyGelert.Llywelynwasovercomewith
remorseandburiedthedogwithgreatceremony.However,hecouldstill
hearthatdyingyelpanditissaidhe
neversmiledagain.
Infact,evidencesuggeststhat
DavidPritchard,aninnkeeperofthe
GoatHotelduringthe18thcentury
whowaseagertofosterthetourist
trade,inventedthestory.Itwashe
whowasresponsibleforbuildingthe
gravesite.
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