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Heritage Railway Tour Day 2: Snowdonia

Today we travel on the narrow gauge steam Ffestiniog Railway from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog with a choice of options for mid-day before we return to Porthmadog.

 

Morning

We need to make our way to the Ffestiniog Railway’s Porthmadog Harbour station in time to catch the 10.05 train to Blaenau Ffestiniog - pre-booking seats especially at peak times may be advisable. We travel 13.5 miles whilst climbing 700 feet to arrive at Blaenau Ffestiniog at 11.20 - the station here is shared with the standard gauge National Rail Conwy Valley Line.

We will be travelling with the oldest independent railway company in the World; the Ffestiniog Railway was founded by an Act of Parliament in 1832 (originally built as a gravity and horse drawn line) to transport slate from the quarries around Blaenau Ffestiniog to the harbour at Porthmadog. With the decline of the slate industry, the line closed in 1946 but rail enthusiasts enabled part of the line to re-open six years later. However, it was not until 25 May 1982 that the line finally re-opened all the way to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Many years had been spent re-aligning the track around a new reservoir (including constructing a new spiral, tunnel and bridges) and the Ffestiniog now shared a station near the town centre with the standard gauge line from Llandudno Junction.

One of the options for mid-day after we arrive at Blaenau Ffestiniog is to visit one of the former slate quarries that provided the traffic for the line. At the Llechwedd Slate Caverns you can travel deep into the mine and back into the past. Local guides take you through huge subterranean caverns and you’ll take a ride on the steepest cable railway in Britain. The tours take about an hour - there is about three and a half hours from when we arrive until the return train. Check opening times out of season; advisable to pre-book tours and pre-book a taxi (see web site) or a mile walk - left from station, right at the roundabout and take the A470 Conwy road.

Another option is to take a short trip on the Conwy Valley Line train to the village of Betws-y-Coed - very popular with visitors and a centre for outdoor activities in Snowdonia. Right next to the station is the Conwy Valley Railway Museum with not one but two miniature railways of different gauges. If you need tickets for this section of the journey, buy them from the conductor on the train. It leaves at 11.36 and arrives at Betws-y-Coed at 12.03; the return train leaves at 13.58 to reach Blaenau Ffestiniog at 14.31.

The final option is to stay in Blaenau Ffestiniog; depending on dates there will be two or three arrivals and departures on the Ffestiniog plus a couple of trains on the Conwy Valley Line before our train departs. Also time for a walk around the town; the exit from the station leads to the road through the town; eating places and shops in either direction but mostly on the right.

We need to be back at the Ffestiniog station in time to catch the 15.05 train back to Porthmadog (it leaves at 15.25 peak times).

“Points of Interest Blaenau-Betws-y-Coed” includes some info on the standard gauge railways at Blaenau Ffestiniog as well as the route to Betws-y-Coed.
Ffestiniog Railway

The Ffestiniog Railway is the oldest independent railway company in the world, established in 1832.

Rail Route: Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Harbour Station, Porthmadog, Gwynedd, LL49 9NF

Visit Wales VAQASFood Standards Hygiene (Very Good)

 

Blaenau Ffestiniog is famously known as the "slate capital of Wales" and the "town that roofed the world". Its industrial role has long since diminished, yet Blaenau Ffestiniog attracts many visitors because of its rich slate history.

Gwynedd, LL41 3HS

 
Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway Station

Blaenau Ffestiniog railway station is the terminus of the Conwy Valley Line from Llandudno Junction; most trains run from/to Llandudno. Trains connect with the North Wales Coast Line. It is also the terminus of the Ffestiniog Railway.

Church St, Blaenau Ffestiniog, LL41 3H

 
Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway Station

Heritage Railways Tour Journey Notes 4 - Blaenau Ffestiniog & the Conwy Valley Line to Betws-y-Coed.

Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway Station, Church St, Blaenau Ffestiniog, LL41 3H

 
 

Lunch

If you are going to the Llechwedd Slate Caverns, meals are available at their Caverns Café. There are cafes in the former station buildings at Betws-y-Coed, there is the Buffet Coach Café at the Railway Museum or a good choice in the village itself.
 

Afternoon

We leave Blaenau Ffestiniog at 15.05 (15.25 at peak times) and arrive back at Porthmadog at 16.15 (or 16.40).

You can walk alongside the Ffestiniog line as it leaves Porthmadog along the Cob; photo opportunities include the 18.30 arrivall (except 2 April). At the far end of the Cob is Boston Lodge, the engineering works of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways. The present workforce is continuing a long established tradition of innovation and quality stretching back more than 150 years. The works is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest in the world and is unique in having built steam locomotives in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
 

Evening

Another chance to try one of Porthmadog’s restaurants and cafes.
 

Overnight

The second night at your chosen accommodation in Porthmadog.
 
 

Other Itineraries

> Explore Mid Wales Days Out

> Heritage Railways

> Scenic Railway Day Trips

> Short Breaks by Train

> Short Breaks in Mid Wales

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