Phase 4: Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog

Hafod Ruffydd - Beddgelert Forest Campsite

Phase 4 pages:
Hafod Ruffydd - Forest Campsite
Beddgelert: Bridges & Station

Recent updates are underlined and in red.

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.

This section takes the line from open land with young forestry plantation into Beddgelert Forest proper. It includes the first of the famous S-bends whereby the railway gains/loses height by taking an indirect route which allows a tolerable - if not easy - gradient.

This section included one of the first areas of Phase 4 work, at one of the wettest spots of all. Achnashean's work got underway in January 2005. The two pictures below show the "Beddgelert Canal" site in the middle of upper S-bend. This had been flooded to a depth of several feet, as a former forestry track had formed a dam across the cutting, and the removal of this blockage by the Forestry Commission revealed the trackbed once more, although when seen below it could not yet quite be called dry.

Three weeks on, and with clearance by Achnashean, the "canal" had become a recognisable piece of railway formation once more.

Fencing of the entire section began on July 25th 2005. The picture below shows the familiar view south from Hafod Ruffydd crossing in mid-August, with the addition of lines of new fencing either side of the embankment.

WHRC Ltd announced in mid-September 2005 that its preparations were almost complete for the appointment of a contractor to undertake the trackbed refurbishment on this section. The appointed contracting firm, G.H. James Cyf, moved on site in the last week of September and started rebuilding the formation downhill from the Hafod Ruffydd crossing towards where the upper S-bend meets the forest road; after this work continued around the S-bend.

Hafod Ruffydd - "Canal" Curve

The views below taken on October 9th show the trackbed scraped back to the old ballast south of Hafod Ruffydd, and work in hand at the "Canal" curve, adjacent to which James had established a work base.

Four months later the trackbed (and associated works) from Hafod Ruffydd into the start of the forest section was at an advanced stage.

The views below were taken from Hafod Ruffydd crossing on May 13th 2006, with hardening of the trackbed essentially complete.

When seen below on June 3rd this section had been compacted by roller, and was ready for ballast.

Work is seen below at two culverts south of Hafod Ruffydd on July 4th.

The pictures below show views from south to north along the section north of the "canal turn" on July 25th 2006, running through the forest and then emerging from it on the approach to Hafod Ruffydd. The ballast was freshly laid.

Ballast was completed to a few metres short of Hafod Ruffydd crossing on August 1st, leaving a short gap to be filled as part of the level crossing works when tracklaying reached this point.

Tracklaying south from Hafod Ruffydd started on September 30th 2006.

The Rest of the World Gang were approaching the edge of the forest when seen below on October 7th.

The KMX tamper is seen below at work on the straight south of Hafod Ruffydd crossing in February 2007; the tamping was not being done continuously south from Rhyd Ddu, and sections north of this spot remained to be treated.

Volunteers were at work in the forest north of Canal Curve on October 22nd 2008, fettling rail joints and fitting stronger fishplates.

The "Canal" Curve

By mid-January 2006 there had been considerable activity at the "canal", with much drainage work done, and material in hand for more to ensure a long-term solution to the previous wetness of this section.

The site is seen below on May 28th, with surveying markers in place to show the correct limits of the formation, and the slight encroachment of the roadway alongside.

The "Canal Turn" was in use for storage of stone and large quantities of plastic and ceramic drainage pipe when seen below in mid-July.

Four weeks later most of this material had been moved out to work sites, with completion of the section due during September. On the north side of the bend, the contractors were working on consolidation of the cutting sides and trenching for the installation of U-section drains alongside the trackbed.

A part-completed drain in the cutting is seen below on August 20th.

A week later the drain was much further advanced, and the site was finally beginning to look like railway formation once more.

The September 23rd views below show the formation complete and ballasted up to the end of the northern part of the contract. While work on the trackbed was also at an advanced stage further south, work was also in hand on a large cross chamber drain, leading the water draining downhill to this point to a drain already laid under the roadway to the stream on the other side. This drain is UB140A, the "A" reflecting the fact that it is an addition to the plans; on Phase 4 letters are being added for additional features rather than doing a wholesale interim renumbering, as happened on Phases 2 and 3.

UB140A is seen below completed on September 30th. The formation above it had been made back up, finally linking up the two sections of this contract, ready for the ballast that was rapidly approaching from the southern end.

Ballasting was completed in the following week, releasing continuous trackbed ready for tracklaying all the way onwards to the southern end of the campsite. The last picture below shows WHRC Ltd staff in the background, carrying out final surveying for tracklaying just down chainage of the curve.

The October tracklaying week pushed the Head of Steel rapidly onwards through this area. By the end of Tuesday October 10th 2006 the Head of Steel was at CH18590 at the Hafod Ruffydd end of the curve; pre-curved rails had been delivered that morning from Dinas to take the track around Canal curve and then heading back north for the first time. The curve is seen below on the 12th, with tracklaying in progress at lunchtime on the left, and the Head of Steel at the end of the day on the right, looking up chainage towards LC73. Staggered rail joints have been used on the curve.

Sleeper bundles are seen below being delivered the next day.

By Saturday 14th tracklaying on the curve was complete, and the Head of Steel was heading north towards the lower part of the S-bend.

Video: Upnor Castle and works train on the curve, 14.10.06.
Windows Media Video file, 2m 24s, 9MB.

Right-click on the link above to save locally if on a slow connection.

Upnor Castle is seen below just north of the curve on October 15th, with rails to be laid further south being unloaded from the rail transporter.

In early November 2006 work had started on an additional level crossing at the curve. This was at the request of the Forestry Commission, giving access to a new forestry track on the other side. As this crossing will be used by slow-moving machinery and is approached on a curve in both directions, after opening it will only be used in direct liaison with the Control office at Harbour Station.

Canal Curve is seen below on September 17th 2007, with track top ballasted and tamped, and with greenery well established.

James's work here revealed a quantity of Croesor Tramway-type iron t-bulb rail, like that discovered earlier at Pitt's Head. Given the construction date of this part of the forest section it would appear possible that these old materials were used during construction in 1922-3 (perhaps displaced from relaying of the Croesor Tramway from Portmadoc to Croesor Junction?) and then simply laid aside. It has also been suggested that these materials could date back to PB&SSR construction work in the 1900s, in which case they would have come from some other source, possibly materials from the dismantled Gorsedda Junction and Portmadoc Railways.

The programme to fettle joints and fit reinforced fishplates (see above) continued almost to the end of Canal Curve on October 24th 2008.

Although let to the same contractor, the stretch from Hafod Ruffydd to the bridge at the top end of the campsite (see below) was regarded as two sections, the split being at the "Canal" curve. The division is clear in the views below, looking opposite ways in early November 2005. Drainage work to the north had prevented recurrence of the flooding, despite days of very heavy rain, whereas the southwards section remained more or less untouched.

Full-scale work to complete from Hafod Ruffydd to the top of the campsite as finished, ballasted trackbed started in early December 2005. The two views below show locations on the section south of the "canal turn" immediately before this. The first one is a short distance on, at Beudy y Weirglodd Isaf, where the trackbed heading south has turned to face north, before curving round in the right distance, forming the second part of the S-bend, to turn south again towards the campsite. The second is looking north from above the campsite.

Hard core recovered from the work at the campsite (see below) was dropped along the embankment part of the S-bend, as seen below, and was being used for strengthening it in January.

The Lower Part of the Upper S-Bend

The work at the southern end of the section, the popular Beddgelert Forest campsite, has required careful forward planning in order to minimise disturbance to the operation of the campsite. The restoration of earthworks and drainage through the site was therefore planned to coincide with its annual closure period before Christmas 2005.

The sequence of pictures below shows the section from a short distance south of Hafod Ruffydd to just north of the approach to the campsite on the occasion of a Board visit on March 6th 2006. In the descriptions (hover mouse over thumbnails), "down chainage" and "up chainage" replace the usual "north" and "south", as the latter make little sense in the S-bends. Chainages are approximate.

The views below from July 4th 2006 show prepared trackbed looking up chainage at Weirglodd Isaf, and beyond it, the cutting at the apex of the lower part of the S-bend.

The pictures below taken fromWeirglodd Isaf crossing (LC73) on July 22nd 2006 illustrate, among other things, one of the types of drainage being installed.

Following the completion of drainage works on the lower part of the S-bend, rapid progress was made in late September 2006 with laying ballast uphill from the short section laid earlier north of the campsite, and with laying out bundles of sleepers alongside the trackbed. The view below shows the limit of ballast up chainage from Weirglodd Isaf crossing on September 30th; completion through to the canal turn was done in the first week of October.

Tracklaying entered the straight between the two parts of the S-bend over the weekend of October 14-15th 2006. The Head of Steel was a short distance down chainage of LC73 when seen below (first row of pictures) at the end of tracklaying on the 14th, and reached the crossing the next day (second row). The Tuesday Gang pressed on up chainage two days later (last picture).

Tracklaying over the weekend of October 21st-22nd reached culvert UB145 at CH19200, with the Rest of the World Gang supported by a group from the Imperial College Railway Society. This point is around the middle of the second part of the S-bend, where the line turns southwards again towards the campsite. The culvert is seen below doing its job on what was an exceptionally wet weekend; this was formerly a very damp piece of trackbed, where the old culvert had become blocked.

Tracklaying is seen below on a very wet October 28th 2006, proceeding around the lower part of the upper S-bend. In the last picture, the works train is seen pointing north in a view taken from the trackbed heading south again after the curve.

The Rest of the World Gang reached CH19440 over the weekend of November 4-5th 2006, leaving one more culvert to cross before re-entering the forest (behind the camera in the picture below) on the approach to UB150 (see below).

LC76, the main crossing of the forest road immediately north of UB150, received its timbers in the third week of November 2006, ready for the track which was approaching from the north; the Head of Steel was within sight of the crossing when seen below on the 18th.

The Head of Steel reached one length short of the crossing on the 19th; some minor earthworks still needed doing at the crossing itself, so the Rest of the World Gang concluded the weekend by laying out sleepers on UB150. In the left-hand picture below Dolgarrog is at the Head of Steel in the distance, and the red vehicle visible to the left is on the forest road at the bend next to LC76. The right-hand picture (below usual quality owing to poor light, but included for interest) shows the layout looking the other way across the crossing.

On November 15th 2008 the Rest of the World Gang, strengthened by a group from Imperial College, was continuing with the programme to install the stronger fishplates and fettle rail joints, on the section between the lower end of the upper S-bend and the top of the campsite. Castell Conwy was standing in for Upnor Castle while the latter was at Dinas for servicing. In the middle picture, the crossing timbers had been temporarily removed at LC75 to allow the tamper to do its work.

These pictures taken on November 20th 2008 show improvements at the private accommodation crossing at Weirglodd Isaf (LC73), with concrete aprons laid on both sides of the crossing.

LC73 had its fencing and signage (but not yet its road markings) when seen on December 1st 2008, and a new headwall was under construction at UB142 nearby.

LC73 is seen below on January 22nd 2009, complete with the necessary signage.

Part of the embankment near the apex of the lower part of the S-bend has been widened on the outer side, having been recognised as being under-engineered when built in 1922. Contractors Atkins Groundworks Ltd of Pwllheli started work on this in mid-January 2009, these views show the site shortly before the start of work, which took place in the week beginning January 19th 2008.

This stage of work on the embankment earthworks was completed on January 23rd 2009; the additional material was brought in by works train, as was the small excavator needed to do the job.

These pictures taken on March 3rd 2009 show more work in hand on the embankment, and lineside trees being cut back.

The following day, Gelli Civil Engineering had made a start on placing fill delivered by train on the embankment sides, so as to reduce the angle of inclination and improve stability. The extra material would also widen the embankment top and provide a more secure side walkway along the embankment for track staff, and any members of the public that may have to be detrained in the event of an emergency.

The job was at an advanced stage when seen on March 12th 2009. Vale of Ffestiniog's train transferring carriages from Boston Lodge to Dinas paused for a while on the lower arm of the S-bend while Conway Castle was bringing in stone from the uphill end.

The embankment widening scheme was effectively complete when seen on March 17th 2009. A start was being made on adding topsoil to the widened embankment face on the outside of the curve, a task that would be completed throughout the site at a later date.

Over the weekend of March 14-15th 2009 the Black Hand Gang were active in this area, dealing with a number of small items on the HMRI snagging list, such as gaps in the fencing and the operation of gates. The volunteers also worked on cutting back foliage between Pont Cae'r Gors and Weirglodd Isaf.

UB150 and the Forest Campsite

Note for visitors - vehicular access

Beddgelert Forest Campsite is private property. Only vehicles owned by campers and previously booked in at the site office may stop there.

Management of the stretch of almost 1km through the campsite was subcontracted to Posford Datrys Consulting Engineers of Caernarfon. Work on this contract started in mid-October 2005, with a completion date of December 21st. By the start of October Forest Enterprise were already at work on roadways in and around the campsite, both for their own reorganisation at the site and also to make roadways on the railway formation available to be turned back into railway trackbed, including the stream crossing at the upper end of the site (UB150). This takes the form of an embankment with the stream in a culvert through its base, and the roadway has been diverted onto a new crossing immediately to the east.

The concrete structure of the road bridge was complete apart from its deck by the end of October, as seen below; the new roadway is at a slightly lower level than the railway. The deck was completed within the following week. In the left-hand picture below, the red van is standing on the trackbed leading through the campsite; the permissive footpath previously established on this stretch has been closed by joint order of the Forestry Commission and WHRC Ltd.

All traffic was transferred onto the new road crossing at the start of December, with the trackbed crossing closed off. In the picture below traffic cones had been used to roughly mark out the track centreline, bearing off to the right on to the lower end of the S-bend.

A week later the trackbed leading north had already been cleared and graded, leading out of sight from the crossing north of the bridge into the S-bend. Contractor's staff were at work laying sub-base on the railway formation across UB150.

WHR Construction Ltd gave consideration to replacing the deck of UB150 sometime before reopening of the railway, but it is not now intended to do this, as the work that has been done to protect the invert and prevent undermining of the abutments is considered to be sufficient for the time being. The slab is in quite good condition - better than the ones that were replaced at UB131 and UB133, and it is deeper in the embankment below the formation level compared to the others. A monitoring regime will be put in place to check the condition under live railway loadings; line speed at this point (between two open crossings) will only be 5 mph.

Trackbed preparation work carried on seven days a week on the campsite section in order to meet the completion deadline in time for the campsite's reopening for Christmas 2005. The last main task - ballasting - is seen below in progress at the bridge on December 18th 2005, and completed further south on the run through the campsite.

The ballasting done in December also included the first stretch north of the bridge.

Work at the halt site started on schedule on November 7th 2005, seen below looking north towards the area shown above.

The halt site is seen in the first two pictures below taken on December 11th 2005; the third picture was taken from LC77 and shows work in progress adjacent to the north end of the halt.

The first major task in this area was to build a new roadway on land to the west of the trackbed, bypassing a length of about 650m from LC77 just south of the Meillionen crossing to LC79 at Ty'n y Coed, south of the halt site. This maintains access to existing roadways on this side of the railway, and also provides a new vehicular access to a property whose previous access was via the trackbed. Work was also in progress on culverts and drainage on the section south of the metalled roadway on the first part of the trackbed through the campsite.

The work before Christmas 2005 left items to be attended to such as the roadway across the crossing north of UB150, and some fencing work.

The Forestry Commision carried out minor earthworks in late January 2006 to give their roadway the right-angled approach to the level crossing north of the bridge required under modern regulations. This alignment runs to the left of the traffic cones in the first picture below.

Stocks of sleepers were delivered in late May, and were stacked at either end of the Meillionen crossing.

Work was well advanced on the halt platform in late March 2006. A concrete base had been provided for the shelter.

The platform was surfaced in early April 2006, essentially completing the work here until the time came for tracklaying, and erection of the shelter prior to opening.

Tracklaying entered the campsite area over the weekend of November 25-6th 2006, with the laying of track across LC76, UB150, LC77, and then the first lengths into the campsite.

Those working over the weekend of November 25-6th included officials of the Permanent Way Institution; from left to right, Andy Savage (President), Phil Bull (Vice-President, England), Bob Gardiner (VP, Scotland), Fred Howes (VP, Wales) and Andy Franklin (Past VP, Wales).

The Rest of the World Gang's working party over the first weekend in December concentrated on various remedial tasks on track already laid, and laid out sleepers further ahead into the campsite section, as far as the Halt. Beyond the continuous run of sleepers, a single one was put in place to mark CH20000, at culvert UB151 at the southern end of the platform.

Track reached the platform on December 10th 2006; coincidentally, this point represents 25% (or 5km) of the distance from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog Harbour.

Nine lengths were laid during 2006's last tracklaying working party on December 16-17th, taking the Head of Steel past the year's unofficial target of reaching the halt. This represented 4km of track laid in the second half of 2006.

The halt is to be known as Meillionen Forest Camp Site, with "Forest Camp Site" in smaller letters underneath "Meillionen" on the name board. "Meillionen" is the name of the stream which the railway crosses a short distance to the north at UB150.

The Rest of the World Gang carried out fencing work at the south end of the platform (which faces a stream) on July 27th 2008.

Volunteers had some changes to their transport to the site for 2007's first working party on January 6-7th, which pushed track on towards the southern end of the campsite. Conway Castle took over works train duties from Upnor Castle as the latter was undergoing maintenance, and the Transit construction van appeared in a new look, sponsored by Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri to promote the railway and the Society.

The views below taken on January 14th 2007 show track reaching out of sight beyond the Halt, and the Rest of the World Gang laying track south of the end of the campsite section, on the approach to UB156 (where the section covered by the Forest - Beddgelert page starts). The working party on January 13-14th laid ten lengths, taking the Head of Steel just past culvert UB155a.

Work over the weekend of January 20th-21st 2007 took the Head of Steel to just short of LC79 at Ty'n y Coed, which effectively marks the end of this section.

In January 2009 Atkins Groundworks Ltd (who had previously done the crossing finishing works at Weirglodd Isaf) were at work on LC77 and LC79, the level crossings at opposite ends of the private access roadway to Ty'n y Coed. At LC77 (immediately south of the Afon Meillionen bridge), cattle grids very similar to those at the crossing just south of Pont Croesor were installed.

LC79 is protected by barriers. The barriers were in place by January 23rd 2009, and the barrier warning lights which will signal approaching trains were being worked on.

At the northern end of the Meillionen crossing, the contractors were also working on LC76, the crossing of the main route up into the forest and towards Hafod Ruffydd. The picture below taken on January 22nd 2009 shows new permanent crossing timbers in place just north of the previous ones, and work to realign the adjacent bend in the roadway to suit. LC77 is visible in the background.

At the far end of the section covered by this page, the fencing works at Hafod Ruffydd crossing had been done some months previously; this crossing is protected by gates across the roadway, which is signposted for one-way traffic at this point. This picture shows the north side of the crossing with signage in place on January 22nd 2009.

Another task to be done in getting this section of the railway ready for passengers is building the passenger shelter at Meillionen Forest Halt; work on this is seen at an early stage on January 27th 2009.

The sign for the halt has been made by the WHRS East Anglian Group; it is seen below awaiting a final coat of paint before delivery to Wales.

These views show LC76 and LC77 (named Coed Mawr Crossing and Meillionen Crossing respectively) on February 15th 2009, with the main work on the structures done, and signage in place. The immediate approaches to these crossings are laid with tarmac (whereas the forest roads are unmetalled beyond the campsite), which also allows the necessary painted road markings to be added (not yet done when these pictures were taken).

The Rest of the World Gang (supported by graduates from the Imperial College Railway Society) were at work here over the weekend of March 7-8th 2009, adjusting the track alignment at the halt, and correcting slight dips that had developed either side of LC77.

Road markings had been completed at the crossings by March 22nd 2009; those at LC76 are shown below, together with the speed hump a short distance on the uphill side of the crossing.

The Black Hand Gang made a rapid start on the erection of the shelter at Meillionen Halt on April 3rd 2009.

 Back to WHR Project homepage or the opening Phase 4 page
Maintained by Ben Fisher; last updated April 3rd, 2009