Chapter 16: The North Wales Coast Railway

Previous: Getting Closer

Chester Railway Station
We reached Chester shortly, changed trains and headed west, leaving the ancient walled city and crossing over the River Dee. A few minutes later we were in Wales.

"We're on the North Wales Coast Railway," said Holmes, "one of the most beautiful rides you will ever enjoy -- if you can enjoy it! Are you up to it, Watson?"

"I think so, Holmes," I replied, still a bit shaky from the conversation of the previous few hours, not to mention the events of the previous few days.

The River Dee widens and flattens at Oakenholt.
"We can't do much until we get to Holyhead," Holmes said, "and I wouldn't want to arrive there too soon. So I suggest we try to relax and enjoy this glorious weather -- and the beautiful Welsh landscape we are about to traverse."

"No complaints from me, my friend," I said. And I meant it. But thoughts of a horrible nature still spun through my head.

My companion, on the other hand, had the marvelous facility of switching off the 'working' part of his brain, a trick which allowed him to enjoy the finer things in his life -- violin concerts and so on -- even while he was immersed in the most gruesome of cases.

The Dee meets the Irish Sea
at Talacre, near Gwespyr.
"We're running along the river now," he said, "but there's not much of it left. Soon it will become an estuary, and shortly thereafter, we will catch our first glimpse of the Irish Sea."

We followed the left bank of the Dee along the estuary, through Oakenholt, Flint, Bagilit, Whelston, Greenfield, Rhewl, Ffynnongroyw and on through Gwespyr, near where the river meets the sea.

The line curved to the west, and following the coastline, and we passed through the seaside towns of Prestatyn and Rhyl.

The beach at Rhyl when Holmes was a lad
"Could I interest you in a wee bit of architecture, Watson?" Holmes asked. There's a place just a few minutes down the line that I think you might want to see."

"Since we are no longer in a hurry, Holmes," I said, "I suppose we should take the opportunity, if you think it's worthwhile."

"I don't think you'd want to miss it," he replied.

"What is it?" I asked.

"I couldn't possibly describe it," the detective answered. "You'll have to see it for yourself."