Ffestiniog Railway with kids
Standing on the platform at Blaenau Ffestiniog, I felt like I had stepped back in time. We wandered to the ticket office, just set back from the platform, to collect our tickets. The kids sat patiently on the floor of the platform, eagerly waiting to catch sight of a steam engine. We were glamping at Llechwedd Slate Caverns, and whilst were were in the area I had to experience a family ride on an old fashioned steam engine from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog.
So lets go back 20 (maybe 25) years. My grandparents had a caravan in Abersoch, and I have some of my most cherished childhood memories, of balmy summer holidays exploring North Wales with my family. I have fond memories of visiting the Slate Caverns on more than one occasion, and I couldn’t wait to visit with my young tribe, creating a few more special memories along the way.
The History of the Railway
The Ffestiniog Railway was constructed in 1832, to enable trains loaded with slate to run downhill by gravity, where the slate was loaded onto ships. Horses were used to pull the empty wagons back up the line. As the demand for slate increased this system became under stain and in 1863 the first steam trains entered service. In 1864 a further two locomotives were delivered and in the same year permission was granted to carry passengers. It wasn’t long before the railway was under strain again, and in 1870 a double bogie engine went into service. The demand for slate was decreasing with the popularity of new roofing materials.
The Welsh Highland…a new railway was built. The Line continued during the war but was closed in 1946. In 1954 the railway was bought by the Ffestiniog Railway Trust who set about rebuilding the line to Blaenau Ffestiniog. To get to Blaenau Ffestiniog the volunteers faced many problems and much work. This involved constructing a tunnel, bridges and restoring tracks. In the early 1980s the Ffestiniog Railway once again ran from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Today, the development of the Railway continues to ensure one of the most successful tourist attractions in North Wales continues to be enjoyed by many.
A day out on the Railway
Stepping inside the beautifully restored carriages we found our seats and sat back and enjoyed the beautiful views along the link heading to Porthmadog. The kids were full of anticipation and excitement, and loved following the journey along the route that was displayed on each table. Most regular timetabled trains provide a light refreshment service during the journey. A menu is placed on the tables with a selection of drinks and snacks. The lovely stewards walk through the train and take your order from the menu.
Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog
The journey took around 1 hr 15 minutes, and we arrived in Porthmadog to take in the views of the harbour and meander around the streets. There are lots of lovely shops and plenty of places to stop, enjoy a coffee, cake, or an ice-cream in the Autumn sunshine. We had decided to catch the earlier train back as we had a fair journey home from North Wales, but we made sure we had just enough time to grab some fish and chips to take with us to enjoy on the return journey.
***Disclosure – We were provided with complementary tickets for the Ffestiniog Railway, however we were under no obligation to create a post. I have shared our day out because we loved it!***