Goat Tunnel

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Goat Tunnel
Copy geograph 432586 d7f8b3be.jpg
Type Tunnel
Status In Use
Operational No. T1
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Beddgelert Nantmor
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Beddgelert Station Bryn y Felin Road bridge
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South of Beddgelert Station the line descends into the awkward, short No. 1 or Goat Tunnel (pronounced 'Go-at' by the locals[1]); at the lower end the line swings sharply to avoid crossing the 'Bridge to Nowhere' (which was built by the Portmadoc, Beddgelert & South Snowdon Railway in 1904-08) and runs alongside the A498 to Bryn y Felin, passing behind Bryn y Felin house with another sharp curve. No.1 tunnel is one of the more unsatisfactory features of the 1922 construction. It had originally been built by the PB&SSR, but to ease the gradient it was in 1922 filled to a depth of some two feet, leaving inadequate headroom. The curves at either end had not adequate transitions, so the South African van hit the roof of the tunnel. With some ingenuity, transitions were introduced and the track lowered on steel sleepers, but there are still curves of some 50m radius at either end of the tunnel, so there is a permanent speed restriction. Indeed, the length of track from Beddgelert Station to the east bank of Afon Glaslyn at Bryn y Felin has four curves of 50m or 53m radius and is the most contorted section of the entire line. This was because of the problems in joining the differing heights of the trackbeds of the NWNG extension uphill (Caernarfon end) of Beddgelert and the PB&SSR below it. The PB&SSR originally planned to cross the valley with less curvature on a particularly hideous embankment past Gelert's Grave. The Bridge to Nowhere and the abutments of a further bridge below it stand in mute witness to this ill-advised notion. From the air or from the adjacent hillside, the rest of the alignment can readily be seen, crossing the river at the present nilometer and curving through some incomplete cuttings to join the existing alignment east of Bryn y Felin Bridge.

Goat Tunnel is located behind the Royal Goat Hotel in Beddgelert. Known during reconstruction as Tunnel No. 1, it was originally bored around 1905 for the PBSSR but was modified to ease the gradient for the WHR in 1922/3, with further modification for the reconstructed line in the new millennium. The wooden sleepers seen in the photo were soon replaced by steel ones, whose lower profile formed part of the solution to a vertical clearance issue.

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  1. ^ Go-at, so pronounced: ex. inf. elderly but distinguished and reliable members of Cymdeithas Hynafiaethau Cymru. The usage has diminished of late years because of the immigration of many Saeson, but if you speak to locals around the place, you will find it still in use.