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Ride the Railways in Snowdonia

Discover which Railways there are to ride in Snowdonia.

If you’re visiting Snowdonia, one activity you must do is ride the narrow gauge railways that traverse the National Park. Not only is it fun to go back in time to the age of the steam engine, it’s also a great way to discover all the beauty that the Snowdonia National Park has to offer. Read on and discover all of the different journeys you can go on with the seven narrow gauge railways in Snowdonia.

Ffestiniog Railway

The Ffestiniog Railway was established in 1832 as a means to transport quarried slate from the quarries in Blaenau Ffestiniog to the port in Porthmadog to be used, transported or traded. The railway climbs over 700ft above sea level at its highest point, as it clings to the mountainside, and is 13.5 miles long, travelling through the gorgeous landscapes of the National Park.

Keep an eye out for the lakes and waterfalls that you’ll see as you travel through green pastures and woodlands, and make sure you’re prepared for the pitch-black tunnels you’ll pass through.

Welsh Highland Railway

This narrow gauge railway is the newest railway in Snowdonia, having only been restored and reopened for the journey between Caernarfon and Porthmadog in 2011. It is 25 miles long, and climbs to a total height of 650ft above sea level. While on this journey, starting from Caernarfon, you will undoubtedly see some fantastic views of the Welsh countryside as you travel along the base of Mount Snowdon towards Beddgelert village, through the breath-taking Aberglaslyn pass and then onwards to Porthmadog, a gorgeous little harbour town.

If you’re planning to visit Caernarfon Castle, this could be your way to travel there!

Snowdon Mountain Railway

Journey to the rooftop of Wales with this fantastic railway journey which takes you all the way to the top of Mount Snowdon, climbing 4.5 miles up to the summit of 1085m. This railway opened in 1896 and has been allowing people to view the awe-inspiring sights of the journey ever since.

It is the only public rack and pinion railway in the UK and has been described as “one of the most unique and wonderful railway journeys in the world”.

Talylln Railway

This wonderful railway, situated right in the centre of mid-Wales countryside, allows for an apprication of the beautiful scenery in the south west of the Snowdonia National Park, in a gentler part of the landscape. During the 7-mile journey between Tywyn, Abergynolwyn and Nant Gwernol, keep an eye out for the delightful Dolgoch Falls, and alight at Nant Gwernol to explore the outstanding landscape in more detail with one of the excellent forest walks available.

At Tywyn station, don’t forget to pop into the wonderful little café there for some refreshments after your journey, and keep the kids entertained with the fun adventure playground and museum.

Llyn Padarn Railway

Once used to carry slate from Dinorwig quarry in Llanberis to the Felinheli port, this is now a public railway that travels 2.5 miles along the shoreline of the glacially-formed lake, Llyn Padarn. When travelling along this railway, not only will you be able to see some fantastic views of the lake, but also some wonderful perspectives of Mount Snowdon.

Travel the journey taken by the quarrymen in ‘ceir gwyllt’ (wild cars) to and from work, and get a sense of the countryside and the area around you in Snowdonia. This track also takes you past the historic site of Dolbadarn Castle, which was constructed in the 13th Century.

Take a picnic with you, and enjoy the views from a more stationary position at the short stop of Cei Llydan or explore the National Slate Museum at Gilfach Ddu.

Bala Lake Railway

Unlike many of the other railways mentioned above, this narrow gauge railway wasn’t built to transport slate. Instead, it was created as a branch, part of the Great Western’s railway from Ruabon to Barmouth. However, for a brief period of time, it was used to transport some quarried and mined material from the Dolgellau area.

Just like the other railways that have been mentioned though, this railway also offers some beautiful views of the scenery during its 4.5-mile journey along the shores of Llyn Tegid lake. You’ll be able to catch some great views of the lake itself and also the surrounding mountains, that are never too far away.

Fairbourne Railway

For over 100 years, this railway has been running from Fairbourne village to Penrhyn Point, where you can travel over the Mawddach Estuary to the seaside town of Barmouth. Starting out as a horse-drawn tramway, the railways was converted into a railway in 1916.

Marvelling at the spectacular scenery, and the views of the beautiful beach, is the perfect way to spend this short, 2-mile train journey. It’s a great piece of Fairbourne history, and the perfect way to see the town before exploring it closer, possibly in the search for refreshments after the ride!