These are two separate railways, both of which operate historic steam engines with comfortable carriages that will carry you through the often beautiful countryside in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. This is the longest railway journey of its type in Britain.
First of all, we have the Ffestiniog Railway. This runs from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog, through scenery consisting of beautiful forests and mountains. The journey is 13.5 miles long and was voted one of the best-loved “Great Little Trains of Wales”, and is the oldest narrow gauge railway on the planet.
Originally built to carry slate away from Blaenau, they are now comfortable passenger trains, each with a well-stocked buffet car and a licensed bar offering drinks from Porthmadog’s award-winning Purple Moose microbrewery. The locomotives themselves are all originals, dating back more than 150 years, meaning you can enjoy the experience of “the golden age” of rail travel.
It is perhaps best to visit the Ffestiniog Railway during the height of summer – at this time, extra carriages are added to the train. These carriages are really vintage ones, so if you wish to add a little authenticity to your journey, this is the time to go. You will travel to more than 700 feet above sea level, going through a full spiral and alongside waterfalls and lakes, on a tranquil and beautiful trip.
Second, there is the Welsh Highland Railway. This is the longest heritage railway journey in the United Kingdom, at 25 miles, and runs from Caernarfon to Porthmadog. It offers a truly picturesque ride alongside the foot of Mount Snowdon and through the Aberglaslyn Pass. The carriages provide luxurious comfort, and if you want to splash out you can ride in the first class Pullman carriage, where freshly-prepared meals will be brought out to you in your seat. Outside of first class, dogs are welcome, meaning your four-legged friend can also enjoy the experience!
You can spend the whole day on these trains – by taking the Ffestiniog Railway to Porthmadog and then the Welsh Highland Railway on to Caernarfon, you can enjoy a wonderfully scenic route all around Snowdonia.
There are plenty of lovely areas to visit nearby, too. Ffestiniog is right in the middle of Snowdonia, meaning you can quickly get into the National Park and start exploring the beautiful, mountainous region for yourself. The bizarre yet eye-catching Italianate village of Portmeirion is also nearby. The setting for the cult series The Prisoner, there’s plenty of unusual architecture on offer, making it well worth a day trip. And what better way to discover Wales than staying in a self-catered cottage? Click here to find out more.
Porthmadog is the head office and where both railways meet. There are numberous stops along the way, for more information visit their website
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Somewhere you've never been? What is Nearby?
Caernarfon is known for one thing more than anything else: its mighty castle. This immense fortress dates back to the end of the 13th century – King Edward I of England had begun his Welsh conquest, taking the town of Caernarfon in 1283. The pre-existing motte and bailey structure was demolished under his instruction, and in its place began work on the impressive stone structure we know today.
Blaenau Ffestiniog has recently become a centre for new and exciting activities. Situated right in the very heart of the Snowdonia National Park, with forests, lakes, rivers and mountains all around it people have been coming here for easy access to the park but now there is so much more on offer...
Base yourself in a holiday cottage in the Porthmadog area and you can easily explore the surrounding area of Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsula. There's plenty to do and see in every direction from beautiful scenery to famous attractions and activities including Port Meirion and the Welsh & Highland steam Railways.
Base yourself in the Caernarfon area to explore this historic castle town and the Snowdonia area. The Welsh Highland Railway starts from Caernarfon to Porthmadog, a great way to see the countryside. The Llyn Peninsula is also easily accessible. Find a your holiday cottage here.
Lovely cottages in and around the historic town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Surrounded by the Snowdonia National Park and close to numerous attractions such as Bounce below, Zip World Titan and Caverns, Ffestiniog Railway and Antur Stiniog.