Llangollen Railway

Llangollen Railway

On a sunny Saturday in October, I ventured up to Denbighshire, North Wales for a day out at Llangollen Railway. Olympus and London Camera Exchange had teamed up with Llangollen Railway for a day of photography surrounded by trains of days gone by.

The idea of these events is to give photographers a chance to have a go and get to grips with camera gear (in this case, Olympus camera bodies and lenses) in an environment other than the shop (which, let’s be honest, isn’t a natural shooting ground for photographers!). When we ordered the tickets we could let them know exactly what camera or lens we were interested in trying out.

On the day, the organisers turned up with plenty of Olympus gear to go around and an Olympus expert was on hand to answer any questions. We also had a very helpful volunteer guide from Llangollen Railway. I must admit, I thought there might have been a push for sales, but there wasn’t. We were offered a discount should we want to buy any gear, but we certainly didn’t feel obliged to buy anything.

A train at Llangollen Railway.

The day began at Llangollen Station, the start of the primarily steam hauled heritage railway line through the beautiful Dee Valley. The line now runs for 10 miles, from Llangollen to Corwen, and is just part of what used to be the old Ruabon to Barmouth main line. The original line was closed to passenger trains in 1965 and goods trains in 1968 with much of the track and its infrastructure removed soon after. In 1975 a group of enthusiasts decided to resurrect part of the line and thus created Llangollen Railway, with signal boxes and stations being rebuilt over the years.

Inside the engine cab.

A few shots were taken of the train and the station before we boarded the train for our trip up the railway line. We had a little educating to do as the man sat opposite couldn’t understand why women would entertain the thought of enjoying trains and photography. The fact that there were at least 4 of us females sat in the carriage with our camera gear seemed to have passed him by. I hadn’t realised that as soon as I’d climbed aboard the steam train I’d stepped back in time as well!

A view from the train.

Station buildings.

The River Dee.

With a toot of the whistle and a cloud of steam, we were off, following the River Dee up the valley. The views were fantastic and the weather perfect. On the way to Corwen, the train stopped at Berwyn, Glyndyfrdwy and Carrog stations, but, with a busy day ahead of us, we didn’t have time to stop off at all of the stations and have a wander around. Another time, perhaps.

We didn’t travel all the way to Corwen, instead, with the promise of being able to look inside the signal box, we alighted at Carrog and awaited the steam train’s return to collect us for our return journey to Llangollen.

The train leaving Carrog Station.

Train Driver

Carrog Station

Carrog Station

Carrog is a wonderful little station. It has retained its original ticket hall and has a lovely little tea room too. Former railway coaches have been converted into a shop selling railway memorabilia and flowers adorn the station platform.

Beware of Trains sign

Passengers are not allowed to cross the railway except by the bridge sign.

Milk churns on Carrog station platform.

Carrog Station Booking Office

Carrog signal box sits at the end of the station platform and we were kindly allowed up into the box in pairs (you really can’t get any more than 2-3 people in there at any one time!). An engineer was busy fixing something, so I took a few shots and left him to it (it’s got to be pretty annoying trying to fix something in a small space without other people coming in and making it even more cramped).

Carrog Signal Box

Inside Carrog Signal Box

Levers in Carrog Signal Box

Through the window in Carrog Signal Box

It wasn’t long before the steam train was rolling back into the station and we were soon on our way back through the beautiful Dee countryside to Llangollen.

Dee Valley countryside

Dee Valley countryside

Heading back to Llangollen Station.

Back at Llangollen station, we had a wander around and waited for the next train to leave so we could capture it from the bridge (we had to wait a while!). The only problem photographing a steam train from a bridge is dodging the soot and smoke!

Steam train leaving Llangollen Station.

Steam train leaving Llangollen Station.

For the final part of the day, we headed to the engine sheds for a tour. This part of Llangollen Railway is usually out of bounds to visitors, but we were able to see the engines which are in the middle of being restored or fixed. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to keep a heritage railway running.

Inside the engine shed at Llangollen Railway.

Inside the engine shed at Llangollen Railway.

A steam train in the engine yard.

A goods carriage in the engine yard.

All in all, it was a wonderful and interesting day out at Llangollen Railway with Olympus and London Camera Exchange. The weather couldn’t have been better and we saw some great sights.

There’s plenty more to see and do in the area, such as the Horseshoe Falls, horse-drawn canal boats and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, but we had to get home so I’ll show you those another day.


  1. Jeanna says:

    That’s an excellent and very trusting exercise. Did you have to sign a waiver? I suppose it’s not that different from assigning cameras to students. Your photos are very colorful and clear, what cameras were you using and are you going to buy anything?
    I believe that you did step back into time. So women can’t like trains? Or photography? A train comes by my house (a few yards away) a few times a day and I kind of like it, at least in the day time.

    • Nikki says:

      No waiver signed. All of these photos were taken with my trusty Olympus Pen E-PL7 and my 14-150mm 1:4-56 II lens. I didn’t buy anything as I’d just had to buy a new computer after my laptop died a few weeks before the event. I was tempted though!

  2. We live only a few miles away from the East Somerset Railway, near Shepton Mallet in Somerset. Whilst the heritage track is only a mere 2.5 miles long, they do serve a mean afternoon tea, which family treated us to for our wedding anniversary last year and was one of the best we have ever had!

    When visiting friends in North Wales, we have also used the Snowdon Steam Mountain Railway, so maybe next time we venture up we might check out your Llangollen Railway trip, which sounds lovely and you have some great pictures as a reminder of the day.

    The idea of testing camera gear is fantastic and would be hubbie’s dream come true. He regularly checks out the latest models in the showrooms, however as you say, testing them out properly in a confined retail environment, is almost impossible. He just took a peak over my shoulder at your post, and is already checking out the Olympus site to try and track down more courses.

    Thanks for sharing and I hope that all is well with you 🙂


  3. Kelly says:

    Pairing the railway with the camera exchange is a marvelous idea! I’m glad you had such good weather – you really captured some beautiful shots!

  4. Jo says:

    What a great idea having an event such as this, being able to try out cameras and lenses in such beautiful surroundings, a win win situation. We stayed in Denbighshire when we visited North Wales a couple of years ago and we loved it, somewhere we’d definitely like to go back to at some point. Did you end up being tempted and buying anything?

  5. jeanie says:

    Too bad that fellow you were sitting near didn’t get to see your finished photos. They really are wonderful, both from a camera point of view (but is Olympus going to bring out their worst to this group?!) and especially from a composition/story-telling point of view. You tell a remarkable story and the photos draw you in to the beauty of the countryside, the intriguing details of the train, the wonderful portrait, the atmosphere with the steam. Your images not only take us back in time but show us something quite beautiful and something not always seen in all areas. Bravo to you the photographer, to the railway and Olympus.

  6. Anca says:

    The photos are stunning. It seems you’ve had a wonderful day. I like the idea of being able to test cameras before buying. With so many things, one has to spend a lot of money on them and after that see if it is what was expected or not.

  7. Louisa says:

    What a wonderful opportunity! I visited this railway a few years back and it is full of wonderful thinks to shoot. Your photos are wonderful. It’s great that you got to try out a new camera, are you tempted to buy one for yourself now? #keepingitreal

  8. Jayne says:

    What a brilliant day out and fabulous pictures. Even if someone was not interested in heritage railways, how could you not enjoy such a visit?

    I’ve heard great things about the Llangollen railway, but it’s such a long way from here 🙁

  9. Debbie says:

    Hi Nikki, what a wonderful way to get to test drive some camera equipment. The trainy stuff and scenery are lovely, which shows in your photos. How funny that you bemused the chap, sounds like he came from an age when women were chained to the kitchen sink!

    Thank you for popping by and sharing at #keepingitreal.


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