We take our children on the Ffestiniog Railway which runs through Snowdonia National Park
What is it?
The Ffestiniog Railway is a vintage railway which has been running for nearly 200 years through the beautiful Snowdonia National Park.
Where is it?
It runs between Porthmadog’s harbourside and the former slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog – 13 and a half miles away.
What did we think?
This is one of the country’s best preserved vintage railways with wonderful scenery and child-friendly stops en route.
*The steam engine. Harry Potter fans can imagine they are on the Hogwarts Express as the train starts off. The noise, smell and sensation of a steam engine is unique for children.
*Its history. The Ffestiniog Railway is the world’s oldest narrow gauge railway. This line was originally built to take slate from Snowdonia’s quarries to the harbour at Porthmadog from where it was shipped around the world.
*The carriages are original but despite their age are fairly comfortable and reasonably spacious.
*Table service. Attentive staff regularly come round offering drinks, snacks or guide books. They serve homemade cakes and a selection of alcoholic and soft drinks.
*The views. The journey starts along the water at Porthmadog harbour before chugging up into the mountains. It is a narrow route with some houses right by the railway. As you climb, the railway goes past rocky walls and woodland but it barely goes a few minutes without a great view of Snowdonia’s mountains, streams and valleys.
*Tan-y-Blwch walk. Getting off at Tan-y-Blwch is the best option with children. You have over an hour before the train comes back for the return journey. That is enough time to walk the 1/4 mile down through woodland to Llyn Mair and wander around the lake, possibly with a picnic, before heading back to the station.
*Tan-y-Blwch station. The station has a small but fun playground, cafe and hut showing some of the railway’s history. There is also a bridge over the railway where you can get a good view of the steam trains arriving and departing.
Our top tips
*Sit on the right hand side of the train on the way out of Porthmadog and the left on the way back for the best views.
*The toilet is in the middle of the train so if you have little ones who might need to pay a visit, sit near that carriage.
*With younger children, consider riding to Tan-y-Bwlch rather than all the way to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The journey is 45 minutes each way instead of 1 hour 15 minutes. There is a playground and walk at Tan-y-Bwlch.
Ffestiniog Railway information
Food: Drinks and snacks menu served on-board. Cafes at Porthmadog and Tan-y-Blwch stations on the route serving cakes, ice creams and cooked meals.
Opening hours: For most of the season there are four trains per day. The first train leaves Porthmadog at 10.05am. Other departures are 11.25am, 1.35pm and 3.50pm with the last one getting back at 6.30pm. In the summer holidays there is also an 8.50am departure.
Cost: Adult all-day ticket £25, half way return to or from Tan-y-Blwch £16.10. One child free with every paying adult. All under-threes travel free.
Best for: Ages three upwards
Time needed: three hours
Access and restrictions: There are accessible toilets and baby changing facilities at all the main stations. The train itself has a toilet but it is small.
Address: Porthmadog Harbour Station, Glaslyn Bridge, LL49 9NF.
There is a small car park at Porthmadog which costs £2 per day.
Have you been, let us know what you thought?