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The First Narrow Gauge Railway to be Built on an Ex BR Trackbed

The nominal 2’ gauge Bala Lake Railway (Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid) is a delightful little 4½ mile line running alongside Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) in the beautiful Snowdonia National Park. The trains are hauled by historic Welsh steam locomotives.

Brief History

The Bala Lake Railway was built on the trackbed of the former Ruabon to Barmouth Line which was closed by British Railways in 1965. It was the first narrow gauge railway to be built on an abandoned British Railways trackbed.

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Attractions and Facilities

Operation

Service

Trains run every day from early April to early October except certain Mondays and Fridays. There are also services during autumn half term and Santa specials in December. Refer to the Bala Lake Railway website for full details (see link below).

All passenger trains are steam hauled.

Locomotives

Some of the locomotives listed are currently being rebuilt with the hope that they will enter service on the Bala Lake Railway in the future.

Steam Locomotives

Diesel Locomotives

Stock

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Llanuwchllyn
Pentrepoid
Llangower
Bryn Hynod
Bala
(Penybont)

Map

The map below shows the location of all the stations on the Bala Lake Railway, click on any of the markers to see the station name and postcode (where known). Use the zoom and pan tools to explore the map.

Getting there

By train - The nearest railway stations are Ruabon, on the Shrewsbury to Chester line and Barmouth on the Cambrian Coast Line. Both stations are served by Arriva Trains wales. The Bala Lake Railway is approximately a 25 mile bus journey (Service 94) from Ruabon and Barmouth. See the Bws Gwynedd link below for details.

By bus - The nearest bus stop to Llanuwchllyn Station is approximately 300 yards away at the junction of Station Road and the B4403. Bus services are provided by Arriva Cymru service 94 running between Wrexham and Barmouth. The same service serves Bala town. See the Bws Gwynedd link below for details.

By car - Llanuwchllyn is the best place to join the train. The station is just off the B4403 about ½ mile from the A494 at the South-Western end of the lake (follow the signs). Ample free car parking is available at the station.

Bala (Penybont) is situated about ½ mile from the centre of Bala town near the junction of the B4391 and B4403. Parking is restricted to narrow on-road parking.

See the map above, click on the pointers for postcodes.

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Links

Headquarters Address:





Telephone:

email:

Bala Lake Railway Ltd
The Station
Llanuwchllyn
Gwynedd
LL23 7DD

01678 540666

balalake@btconnect.com

Map | Getting there | Attractions & Facilities | Operation| Brief History | Review | Links

Bala Lake Railway at a Glance

Type: Narrow gauge railway on former           standard gauge track bed.

Gauge: Narrow, 1’ 11¾” (603mm)

Length: 4½ miles

Stations: 3 + 2 halts

First opened: 1868

Closed: 1965

Re-opened in preservation: 1972

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Review

The town of Bala and the village of Llanuwchllyn sit at either end of Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake), the largest natural body of water in Wales. The British Railways Ruabon to Barmouth Line which served them ran along the south-east shore of the lake, offering stunning views across the water to the mountains of Snowdonia beyond.

It’s the perfect setting for the first narrow gauge Railway to be built on an abandoned British Railways trackbed. The nominal 2’ gauge Bala Lake Railway (Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid) is a delightful little 4½ mile line combining the beautiful location with historic Welsh steam locomotives.

The mainstay of the locomotive fleet since their entry into traffic has been two quarry Hunslet 0-4-0STs, Maid Mairian and Holy War which were built over 100 years ago for the famous Dinorwic Quarry near Llanberis about 40 miles to the north-west of Bala Lake. Two more ex Dinorwic Hunslets, Alice and George B, are being restored and it is hoped they will eventually join the working fleet.

Being built on a standard gauge trackbed, there are no sharp curves as normally found on narrow gauge lines so the little Hunslets get to stretch their legs, a stark contrast to their work in the quarry. It’s fascinating to stand at the trackside when they pass at full speed.

The journey from Llanuwchllyn to Bala takes about 25 minutes, the train waits there for 10 minutes while the engine runs round for the return journey so a round trip will take an hour if you don’t stay to visit Bala itself. Llanuwchllyn is definitely the best starting point as parking near Bala (Penybont) station is restricted to narrow roads only whereas there is ample free parking at Llanuwchllyn.

Llanuwchllyn station still has the original GWR buildings and signal box. The station buffet was the original waiting room and the long seating section was once a waiting room at Barmouth Junction. The main building has been extended to provide a booking office and store room.

There were three stations in the Bala area, the original Bala station was on the Bala to Blaeanau Ffestiniog line, Bala Junction was at the junction of the Blaeanau Ffestiniog line with the Ruabon to Barmouth Line and Bala Lake Halt on the Ruabon to Barmouth Line where the current Bala (Penybont) station stands. The centre of Bala is about ½ mile from the station and unless you are in a rush, it is well worth the 10 minute walk.

Llangower is also a good stopping off point, the station is right alongside the lake and is an ideal place to take a stroll along the shore or have a picnic.

Bala Lake is in a fairly remote part of Wales which makes it all the more beautiful but it is easily accessed from Dolgellau or Corwen by the A494. The Bala Lake Railway is different from many other Welsh narrow gauge lines as it is not climbing steep inclines and traversing sharp curves but it has a charm all of it’s own.