5th May 2003

(Pathfinder Tours)
The North Wales & Snowdonia Excursion

Locos Used 37047, 37114 & D1015
Stock Used 5309+5009+4963+4927+1863+3098+3107+3140+3112+3122+21272+6310

Route:
1Z31 : Castle Cary to Llandudno Junction
1Z61 : Llandudno Junction to Castle Cary

The annual outing for Hanson, Mendip Rail and Foster Yeoman employees and families, organised by Pathfinder Tours. A limited number of seats were released to non-employees/family members.

Loco(s) Route
D1015 Castle Cary - Frome - Westbury - Trowbridge - Bradford-upon-Avon - Bath Spa - North Somerset Jn - Dr Days Jn - (1) Filton Abbey Wood - Patchway - Severn Tunnel Junction - Maindee East Jn - Maindee North Jn - Abergavenny - Hereford - Craven Arms - Shrewsbury - Whitchurch - (1) Crewe - Chester - (via NWC) - Llandudno Junction
D1015 Llandudno Junction - (reverse of outward route) - Westbury
37047 + 37114 Westbury - Frome - Castle Cary

Notes :
(1) Train was originally routed via Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa & Birmingham but was changed a couple of weeks prior to the tour because of pathing difficulties through the Birmingham area (in part related to D1015's lower speed limit on mark 1 coaching stock until TPWS equipment is fitted).

Source : Gary Thornton (joined/left the train at Frome)

Tour Review
(by Gary Thornton)


D1015 passes Llanvihangel, between Abergavenny and Hereford on the
outward journey. (photo : Bruce Garbutt)


Gary Thornton's tour ticket.

Here are some more photos taken on the day.

For the last few years the staff and families of Foster Yeoman, Mendip Rail & Hanson have had their own railtour once a year. In previous years the train had been hauled by their own locomotives (class 59/0 or 59/1) but this year it was to be a bit different with the use of D1015 "Western Champion". With the destination of this trip being Llandudno (Junction) this was a trip well worth being on. Pathfinder Tours (who organised the tour) and were able to offer a handful of spare tickets for sale a couple of weeks before the day. Needless to say demand for the tickets was strong! I was lucky and managed to get a bay of four and was even luckier to find myself and my colleagues seated in coach A.

Pre-tour gen confirmed that D1015 was due to haul the train all day except at night from Westbury where the locos (booked pair of 37's) from the Saturday Pathfinder would take over. As these were 37047 & 37114 and I needed 37047 a starting point of Frome (7.23am) was chosen.

4am - Steve arrived at my place then off we drove to Frome, arriving with time to spare despite doing an unscheduled lap of the back-roads in the Westbury area! With only minimal car parking at Frome we bagged one of them then sat back and watched the cars arrive, drive round and out again...off in search for some on-street parking elsewhere no doubt.

D1015 rolled into Frome a minute or so behind time. Getting on with the short platform took a couple of minutes and by the time we located our seats in coach A (at the back of the train) we were on our way. A quiet run northwards ensued. A third colleague boarded at Trowbridge and our number was complete when colleague number four got on at Bath Spa.

Routed via Severn Tunnel Junction and the Welsh Marches made for a nice journey. By Abergavenny I'd migrated to the front of the train (I wonder why...) and spent my time split between helping to deplete the on-train beer stock and chatting to a few other acquaintances who had also been drawn mysteriously to the front couple of carriages. Strange (and mildly amusing, particularly after a couple of beers) discussion in the bar as we passed a quite impressive old building near Craven Arms - "I went there once" said Steve, "can't remember what it's called but I think it begins with S"...."Castle?" said the other Steve in our group.

It was of course Stokesay Castle, so split points for that one I think.

All too soon and we had arrived into Llandudno Junction - but not before a discussion had taken place as to whether this might be the first ever visit of a "thousand" to Llandudno Junction....we did wonder if any of the Crewe built examples were tested along the North Wales Coast but the learned amongst us thought not - but do you know any different?

Buses were organised to get us into Llandudno but with three of them the bus-bashers were spinning as to how to scoop all three in an out-and-back move! Myself and Steve chose to bash the Great Orme tramway and we succeeded in clearing all four working trams (4, 5, 6 & 7) and had a few minutes at the top where the views were quite spectacular.

Back to the station (on the same bus, good job I don't bash buses!) and for us in coach A the entertainment really began. Being sat in the third bay back the sound effects were spectacular and the whole six hours or so back to Westbury again went by way too quickly! A break at Chester was extended to allow D1015 to take on some additional fuel but the delay was caught-back before Shrewsbury.

Severn Tunnel Junction - what an experience! We entered at a fair speed with D1015 cruising but part way through the power handle was thrown back and it was time to shut up talking (difficult in the best of circumstances with all the windows open wide) and listen to the Maybach music!

Arrival back at Westbury and D1015 was dropped off for 37047 & 37114 to take over. The 5 miles to Westbury were too short a distance to enjoy the tractors but they put on a good show nonetheless!

Verdict : Best tour this year? Hmm, difficult to say but certainly one of the best. A big thank you must once again go to the DTG and everyone else involved in getting D1015 "Western Champion" out on the mainline....and keeping it going in such fine fettle. Another worthy performance that was well worth the early start and late finish.

Gary Thornton.

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Gary Thornton)

M.C Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual M.C
0.00 Castle Cary 07.05d -   23.00a - 19.62
14.02 Frome 07.20a ~ 07.23d 07.21 ~ 07.25   22.43a ~ 22.46d 22.43 ~ 22.47 5.60
19.62 Westbury 07.32a ~ 07.36d 07.34 ~ 07.36   22L14a ~ 22L34d 22.16 ~ 22.34 0.00
245.21
23.65 Trowbridge 07.42a ~ 07.45d 07.41 ~ 07.43   22.04a ~ 22.06d 22.06 ~ 22.10 241.18
34.27 Bathampton Jn 07/59 07/56   21/51 ??/?? 230.56
36.43 Bath Spa 08.02a ~ 08.10d 07.59 ~ 08.15   21.44a ~ 21.47d 21.47 ~ 21.49 228.40
47.45 Dr Days Jn 08/29 08/29   21/31 21/32 217.38
51.29 Filton Abbey Wood 08.35a ~ 08.42d 08.37 ~ 08.40   21.20a ~ 21.24d 21/21 ~ 21/23 213.54
52.76 Patchway 08/45 08/43   21/17 21/17 212.07
63.38 Severn Tunnel Junction 08/54 08/54   21/06 21/07 201.45
72.51 Maindee East Jn 09/03 09/05   20/57 20/58 192.32
73.03 Maindee North Jn 09/08 09/07   20/55 20/56 192.00
83.64 LIttle Mill Jn 09/26 09.22a ~ 09.25d   20/44 20/42 181.19
91.41 Abergavenny 09/37 09/38   20/37 20/35 173.42
103.32 Pontrilas 09/48 09/50   20/26 ??/?? 161.51
115.52 Hereford 10c03a ~ 10c05d 10.04 ~ 10.06   20c10a ~ 10c12d 20.09 ~ 20.11 149.31
128.09 Leominster 10/18 10/19   19/56 19/57 136.64
134.53 Woofferton 10/23 10/24   19/46 19/51 130.30
146.58 Craven Arms 10/33 10/35   19/37 19/41 118.25
165.67 Sutton Bridge Jn 10/52 10/59   19/16 19/17 99.16
166.51 Shrewsbury 10/55 11/01   19/14 19/14 98.32
177.31 Wem 11/10 ??/??   19/02 19/03 87.52
180.49 Prees 11/14 ??/??   18/54 18/59 79.30
194.69 Nantwich 11/27 11/32   18/30 18/44 70.14
199.28 Crewe 11c35a ~ 11c37d 11.40 ~ 11.42   18c11a ~ 18c18d 18.34 ~ 18.37 65.55
210.08 Beeston Castle & Tarperley SB 11/50 ??/??   17/58 18/20 54.75
220.38 Chester 12.03a ~ 12.06d 12.12 ~ 12.15   17.11a ~ 17.40d 17.06 ~ 18.08 44.45
222.29 Saltney Jn 12/09 ??/??   17/07 17/01 42.54
237.24 Holywell Jn 12/24 ??/??   16/51 16/49 27.59
250.36 Rhyl 12.37a ~ 12.40d 12.44 ~ 12.45   16.34a ~ 16.37d 16.33 ~ 16.36 14.47
260.73 Colwyn Bay 12/52 ??/??   16/24 16/23 4.10
265.03 Llandudno Junction 12.58a 13/00   16.18d 16.18 0.00

All distances, in miles and chains (M & C), are taken from the timing sheet given out on the train. No attempt has been made to verify the mileages given.

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