The Incredible Steam Trains in North Wales
Stepping onto a stream railway is like stepping back in time. The history the carriages hold, all the people they have welcomed on board for a journey and the changes of the world around them are a cause for contemplation. The timeless transport provides an insight into the lives of the first people to travel by steam train, and many of these locomotives around the country are still operating today. There are plenty of ways to discover the beautiful surroundings of North Wales, and a steam train provides this with luxury and style. Ffestiniog Railway The award-winning Ffestiniog Railway is the world’s oldest narrow gauge railway that is still being used. Narrow-gauge means that the track is much narrower than the standard, at 1435MM. It operates with three of the original carriages, engines and trains. The track covers a total of 25 miles, winding through incredible scenery. Through forests and tunnels, past lakes and mountains. With surprisingly steep uphill climbs and sharp corners. The magnificent views and ride will take your breath away. The line runs from the heart of Snowdonia in Blaenau Ffestiniog, which is an unused quarry that is now open to the public and highlights the origin of necessity for a railway in this area. It then passes through Porthmadog, a small coastal town with a busy harbour. After travelling through several other small towns and villages, the final destination and the town of Caernarfon, with an impressively large castle and rich history, it is a fantastic place to stop off before your return journey. The building of the railway was initiated in 1840 by Holland and Henry Archer; they promoted the survey of the area and the construction. Their reason for this request to parliament was to reduce the journey that the mined slate had to travel. The slate was being mined from the nearby mountains and brought down by humans and horses, which was a slow, dangerous and costly process. It wasn’t until 1863 that the use of steam engines was granted to be used on the track, the first two trains that arrived were ‘The Princess’ and the ‘Mountaineer.’ In 1864 the number of trains increased to two, with the arrival of ‘The Prince’ and ‘Palmerston.’ Until 1864 the railway was only allowed to transport goods, but at this point, they gained permission to carry passengers. Carriages were brought, and the area received a great boost in tourism. The carriages today, are still run as though they would’ve been in 1864, with service at your seat of food and a bar selling locally-brewed alcohol. Snowdon Mountain Railway The Snowdon Mountain Railway is an impressive engineering feat of the Victorian period. The building of the line began in 1894, and the original trains, that are still used today have been in service since 1896. The construction of the line was initiated by Sir Richard Moon, purely for pleasure unlike the Ffestiniog Railway, which was built for the transportation of slate. The railway is a total of four miles long and has a limited speed of 7.5 miles per hour. At the time of the build, modern day machinery was not yet invented, the carving of the track and mountain was complete by pure human power, digging with picks and shovels and building bridges, all while competing with the steep gradient of the mountain. A cog system is used on the track as a traditional train track would not be able to climb such a gradient. The Abt system used at Snowdonia was designed and tested in the mountains of Switzerland, by Dr Roman Abt. The incredible sites of the glorious Snowdonia can be seen in style on the Snowdon Railway and Ffestiniog Railway. With fantastic views of the Welsh national park, you will pass rare fauna and flora, waterfalls, gorges and chapels. A journey to the summit of a mountain and into the cloud. Browse our Wales caravans for sale, to make North Wales your home away from home.