North Wales is a beautiful place, and there are a few different methods of seeing its beauty, by car, foot, bike or even zip wire! But one of the best ways to enjoy the landscape is on a narrow gauge steam train. Not only can you relax in the carriage, but the routes of these four steam train railways give you a glimpse of the beauty of North Wales.
If you are looking at purchasing one of Lyons Wales holiday homes for sale, why not book a trip on one of the railways; it will surely persuade you that your holiday home belongs in North Wales!
Snowdon Mountain Railway
The Snowdon Mountain Railway is just one of many routes you can take to the summit of the highest mountain in Wales, and definitely the easiest! As soon as you leave the station at Llanberis, your journey towards the clouds begins, a journey that has been taken by thousands since it opened in 1896. The track crosses two viaducts over Afon Hwch River where there are fantastic views of the waterfall. Then the train goes onto open ground, giving you the first glance of Snowdon on the right, before passing Car Esgob, Bishops Field and the ruins of Hebron Chapel. The steam train then begins its ascent before emerging onto one of the world’s best panoramas of Snowdonia.
There are two experiences to choose from; first up is the Snowdon Lily, a reconstruction of the original carriage, powered by steam train. The capacity is only 34 passengers and travels three times a day between May and October, so pre-booking is advised. The other option is the Traditional Diesel Service, which seats 74 passengers and leaves every half hour to the summit between mid-March to October.
Bala Lake Railway
A ride on the narrow gauge train on Bala Lake Railway that runs alongside Wales’ largest natural lake makes for a great family day out. The 2ft gauge line is nine miles long, and there are excellent views of the lake and the surrounding Snowdonia National Park with woodland and mountains. The round trip on the railway lasts about one hour in total, and can be broken up with stops off at various stations; the market town of Bala is a particular highlight. In the summer, you may want to stop off at the lake for some swimming, as Bala Lake is one of the best in Wales for wild swimming.
The train operates on weekends and Tuesday to Thursday from the last week of March to mid-October, running daily in July and August. There are also special events for the train throughout the year, find out more information on the bala-lake-railway.co.uk website.
Llanberis Lake Railway
The Llanberis Lake Railway is an hour-long journey that takes you past some of Snowdonia’s best scenery. You can see the 13th century Dolbardarn Castle, pass by Llanberis’ twin lakes and through the Padarn Country Park. Part of the journey follows the 1845 railway route along the shores of Lake Padarn to Penllyn, where you can then see views of Snowdon. On the return leg of the round trip, there is a short stop at Cei Llydan, before heading back to the starting point at Gilfach Ddu. There is also time to see the driver at work stoking the fire for the train, something your children are sure to enjoy.
The railway runs for the majority of the year, with special events on Bank Holidays and around the festive season. Tickets can be purchased at the Station Building in Gilgach Ddu, and there are three services running most days, beginning at 11 am.
Ffestiniog Welsh Highland Railways
The Ffestiniog Welsh Highland Railways is one of the most popular attractions in North Wales, stretching a total of 40-miles through Snowdonia National Park. The railway links the towns of Caernarfon, Beddgelert, Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog, and is the world’s oldest narrow gauge railway. You can choose to take the 25-mile railway from Caernarfon to Porthmadog, which takes you through countryside, mountains and past lakes and woodland. The other route is a short 13 and a half mile journey between Blaenau Ffestiniog through Snowdonia.
Trains on both railway routes run throughout the year, with several services daily. The trains are steam hauled, though diesel engines could be swapped if a locomotive is unavailable. Special events also run throughout the year, such as Halloween and Santa trains.
Image credit: Peter Trimming