North Wales Narrow Guage (aka Welsh Highland Railway)

The North Wales Narrow Gauge has been one of my favorite railways with a fascinating history. So having (nearly) completed my models of the ngg16 garretts and Russell, I’ve restarted work on the layout.

I’m also using it as a test case for the work I’m doing at the moment on scenery and terrain rendering speed.


I have Portmadoc to above Beddgeleret complete with terrain and scenery, although there are some areas that don’t look right. I’m hoping to visit the area soon and carry out some research on the ground - so I don’t plan to do much to the layout until after that. Anyway there is plenty to work on with the terrain rednering code.


Managed to get a few days in the area over the weekend and walked much of the (closed) track bed and rode on the rest. Came back with over 500 photographs of the route. This is very helpful as it fills in the gaps of my memory and shows details like type of ground surface, trees etc that the maps don’t show. I discovered I had put Beddgelert station in the wrong place - so this is now corrected.

The layout now extends from Portmadoc to Pitt’s Head.

Russell at Portmadoc New.

This area is going to need a lot of buildings and roads, and I intend to add new features to the program to allow the placement of lots of buildings without killing the frame rate.

Russell heading into the Aberglaslyn valley in the twilight.

A passenger train entering the pass and starting the climb.

Arriving at Beddgelert.

The cutting needs a little adjustment (it’s a little bit too deep at the moment) and the village should be sloping down the hill to the left. As with Portmadoc, quite a few buildings will be needed. Here’s the real thing in May ‘05:

Trees are an interesting issue - there are a lot of trees now that have grown since the line closed, and will presumably need to be trimmed before the line reopens. I can never make my mind up which period of the line I’m modelling, so I’m never sure how many trees to put it. I’d also like to be able to scatter some gorse bushes around - in the pictures below the hillsides are a bit bare and would be better if they could have gorse bushes, scattered rocks and sheep distributed over them.

Trains passing at Beddgelert.

This bit of the model has come out quite nicely - you can see the hills ahead and the line climbing up the hillside to the left. The rise on the left should run a bit further along and there should be more trees.

Leaving Beddgelert, the line follows an s-curve up the hillside to gain height.

On the S-curve.

This is only a couple of hundred yards away from Beddgelert station, but having turned through 180degrees to get there. The train turns back north again and runs through the trees in the background.

The landrover is a new model designed for all the farm tracks in this area.

Above Beddgelert on the climb to Pitt’s Head.

Beddgelert station can be seen over the locomotive.


Before the second horse-shoe, the line crosses another stream in the midst of the woods. I need to do some work here to get the levels right. The area is now a caravan park - but I don’t think I’m going to model the caravans on my model.

Top of Beddgelert Forest.

Climbing out above the forest now, and looking back down the valley towards Coed Mawr and Beddgelert. There are some large areas of trees here and I need to add some more trees to the model.


Having spent most of the summer writing new code, I’ve returned to the whr project. I had digitised the whole length of the line from Portmadoc to Caernarvon (but have split it up into sections to work on - this makes it much more manageable).

This autumn, two driver’s eye dvds were released, one of the fr and the other of the whr (in both directions), I acquired these with a view to using them as source material for making the model. This may, or may not, be a good idea as if you are too much of a perfectionist it just makes you discouraged at how difficult (impossible) it is to get the model exactly right. I also found some more sources of information on the web, including some useful photographs and soem gradient profiles. I’m not sure if these are new, or if I just missed them before, but they showed I had the Caernarvon to Dinas section quite badly wrong and I’ve had to regrade almost all of it. However, I’m much happier with the result as it makes much mores “sense” than what I had before. Also on the whr website is a “Guide for loco crews” in pdf format (on page http://www.bangor.ac.uk/ml/whr/whrroute.htm), anyone planning to drive a loco on my layout would be advised to get these document as it describes the line from the driving point of view. The combination of the above sources has allowed me to get the gradients and speed restrictions set out pretty well and I’m quite pleased with the result in that respect.

This weekend, I’ve been laying hedges and fences and building some of the bridges and structures needed, such as this footbridge near Caernarvon:

and here is a view of a Garrett hauled train leaving Caernarvon - the castle is just visible over the trees behind:

This section (Caernarvon to Dinas) should be ready for release soon.

Wish List

Some things I need for the layout (if anyone can help)

  • Digital photos of Dinas Goods shed to use as textures (I took one of the sides but need the others!)
  • Similar of typical buildings of the area for use as textures.
  • Models of the factory/warehouse etc near Caernarvon station.
  • Telephone/Radio mast (Caernarvon)

February 06

Back on the whr project after diversions into code and a model of the Isle of Wight.

I’ve nearly finished the Dinas to Waunfawr section and am well on the way with the Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu section. As with the above section, these bits both needed regrading and then I have worked my along them using the driver’s eye dvds as reference. I’m very pleased with the Waunfawr area, although there is still some work to do on some of the bridges and buildings. The next section to Rhyd Ddu has some challenges in the form of landscape (some tight rock formations) and I’m not sure how to tackle these at the moment.

My brother has supplied photos of many of the Dinas buildings so I’m busy adding these to the model as well.

Some screenshots fo the latest sections:

Russell in the woods alongside the river appraoching Waunfawr

With a works train south of Waunfawr

Diesel hauled works train on the flanks of Snowdon. Quellyn Lake can be seen in the distance.

January 07

Started work on a new model for the fleet, the Lyd2:

See Lyd

I have now made all the bits of the layout to a Welsh Highland layout page: www.rail3d.net/layouts/whr/whr.htm You can download the layout in seven sections, together with a big package for the whole layout. Note that the layout is far from complete …

I’ve also been experimenting with the settings for distant terrain, and I’ve now achieved this - Panorama from Pont Croesor with both Snowdon and Cnicht visible: