Trip report - Llandudno Transport Festival 2017
03:30 came very early on the morning of Friday 28th April, but that early rise was necessitated by our 05:00 departure from Belfast to get to Dublin for Stena Adventurer's 08:20 sailing to Holyhead. With Leopard 339 washed and fuelled and Trevor Dixon at the wheel, we set a steady pace for Dublin Port, where we arrived at 07:10. After a smooth crossing, Holyhead was reached on time and we were away by noon, towards our lunch stop at Porthmadog, where the delights of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways could be seen, along with buses from Arriva, Express Motors and Lloyd's Coaches. A former London Transport RMC Routemaster was working a special service in connection with a railway event.
Our route on to Llandudno took us by way of Beddgelert and Betws-y-Coed and we reached our comfortable hotel about thirteen hours after leaving Belfast. Saturday was a free day and several of the party took the opportunity to sample bus and rail services in Conwy and Gwynedd, using a three-zone Rover ticket. Our first journey was by train, a Class 150 diesel unit to Blaenau Ffestiniog where we changed to an Express Motors bus to Dolgellau. That bus was ex Ulsterbus Solo M920SL 1896! After a short break at Dolgellau it was on to Barmouth onboard a Scania N270UD/Enviro400 of Lloyd's Coaches and our rail connection to Porthmadog on a Class 158 diesel unit. From Porthmadog we headed west then north to Caernarfon on an Optare Excel from the Express Motors fleet - the trim suggested it was new to Wilts & Dorset - before a rapid change to an Arriva VDL/Wright Pulsar to take us to Bangor and on by rail to Llandudno.
Sunday gave the party the opportunity to sample the delights of the Victorian Extravaganza, the Transport Festival and the Marine Drive road run, in which we participated with the Leopard, which was adorned with Ulsterbus fifty years vinyls. Monday came too soon and we departed Llandudno just before 11 for our return to Holyhead and another crossing on Stena Adventurer and home to Belfast for 20:00 after another excellent weekend and another well-planned ITH event.