“ Contact Address: Gilfach Ddu / Llanberis / Caernarfon / Gwynedd / LL55 4TY „
During a recent holiday to Conwy my family and I decided to visit Llanberis. Our primary reason for visiting was to get the train to the summit of Mount Snowdon. Unfortunately we were in the middle of one of the coldest ever March's on record so the train wasn't running due to the tracks and the mountain being to icy. Having known this before we set off, we decided to make the journey anyway and make the most of the day.
Depending on where you are travelling from there are a number of ways to reach Llanberis. As we were travelling from the East we could of taken the A55 westwards to junction eleven and then follow the A4244 and then south on the A4086. This would have been the easier and quicker way to go.
At the Conwy tourist information office (who was very helpful) we were advised to take the scenic route. We were told to follow the A470 south to Bets-y-Coed. At Bets-y-Coed join the A5. Once on the A5 there route to Llanberis is well sign posted. To be fair the route was scenic. It took us through the centre of the Snowdon National Park. Only problem was it was very icy, so the roads were slightly dangerous but it was good just to take our time as the snow on the mountains did make a beautiful sight. At the time the road leading to Llanberis that we needed to go up was closed due to the snow so we had to make quite a large detour but hopefully anybody else travelling there wouldn't have this problem unless weather conditions were particularly bad.
There was plenty of parking space when we arrived. Llanberis probably gets very crowded in the summer with backpackers climbing Mount Snowdon so good places to park cars is important. Llanberis itself is only a small town so finding the Lakeside Railway wasn't too difficult.
LLANBERIS LAKESDIDE RAILWAY.
The lakeside railway runs from the 12th February to the 21st December. We had an information leaflet that had a very detailed timetable. The timetable was colour coded and had four separate timetables A, B, C and D. Each colour represents a different timetable for weekends and specific months of the year when the tourist trade will not be as busy.
We arrived in March so we had to use timetable B to choose a departure time. Trains left every hour and a quarter from 12.20pm until 5pm. Each train journey lasts around one hour depending on if you stay on the train until the end of the line and then return back to the beginning or you can choose to get off the train earlier and walk back to Llanberis.
The journey includes four stops. You start from Llanberis and to make the most of the trip you should stay on the train to stop number four Penllyn. You can't get off the train at Penllyn, it is where the train turns around to come back.
On the way back the next stop is Cei Llydan. A this stop there is a picnic area, so you can get off if you want but there wasn't really a path back from here so you would have to wait for the next train to come back and pick you up. The train did stop here for a few minutes and allowed people to get off the train and take a few pictures.
Next stop was called Glifach Ddu. You can get off at this stop and easily walk back to Llanberis in about ten minutes. Here you will find a café and a gift shop. We decided to stop for some dinner in the café. It was well priced and the food was very good. I had the all day breakfast and thoroughly enjoyed it alongside a pot of tea. The staff were very polite and cheerful and it was a nice café to sit down and relax for a while.
We didn't spend much time in the gift shop but I'm sure you can imagine what it was like. Pretty much like any other gift shop, they all seem to sell the same things. My son did happen to pick up a small train set so my girlfriend felt compelled to buy it for him, think he marked her as an easy touch now. It was actually a nice little set for him to play with and only cost around £5 so nothing to complain about.
As you leave the gift shop, you can cross the tracks and straight ahead of you is the car park leading up to the National Slate Museum of North Wales. I wasn't overly excited about going to the museum but had time to kill so went in and it was actually a good place to visit and more importantly it is free admission.
As I mentioned earlier, from the slate museum it is a straight walk back to Llanberis through a field, along a gravel path next to the train tracks.
I would describe the trains as a cross between a full sized steam engine and a miniature railway. The engine was painted green and black and pulled around four carriages that would each hold around eighteen people. The carriages were all painted green and the first thing that struck me was how well maintained both the engine and the carriages were. As it happens though and I mean it always happens to me I somehow managed to pick the carriage that's door was broken. It wouldn't latch shut. The operators do walk down the train before it departs and check the doors. We were simply told to sit in another carriage and an out of order sign placed on the door.
It is quite amazing just how good the trains look. The engines themselves were all working engines that serviced the slate mines and have been restored.
Once in the carriage they are very clean. The seats are wooden benches. There are plenty of windows to look out of and get plenty of pictures. The middle windows between each bench could be opened but had to be opened with care. They are held up by a leather strap that fits onto a hook. Once you pull the strap from the hook the window is quite heavy so if you don't expect it to be heavy it could drop really quickly. The good thing is once the window is down you can stick your head out to get a better view without getting decapitated by an express or bridge coming the other way. You may get a face full of smoke though.
On one side of the train you have a view of the lake and the mountains and on the other the slate hillsides where the mines were. Along the track you see tracks with cars on where the mines used to remove the slate and bring it down the hill. The train route itself is track laid down in 1845 to service the slate mines.
I found it too be a very relaxing trip. It moves at a slow speed taking sixty minutes to do a five mile return trip. The scenery is nice and the café and slate museum were worthy additions to make it at least a couple of hours well spent. Most importantly my son loved being on the train. He even got to see some goats climbing up the hillsides.
For a single adult ticket it is £7.50. It is £6.90 for students and senior citizens and £4.50 for children that are travelling alone. For any child that needs adult supervision it is free.
You can also buy family saver tickets that depend on the amount of adults and children travelling.
I think it is well priced for what you get. It is worth the money to relax for an hour and visit the free slate museum, which is surprisingly interesting.