Take the trip of a lifetime to the rooftop of Wales on the Snowdon Mountain Railway. At 1085m, majestic Snowdon dominates the landscape and you can claim this mountain peak, the highest in Wales, with a unique, skywards journey. This is a land of giants and princes, alpine flowers and rare ferns left by the retreating ice age, dotted with ruins that chronicle the history of long lost communities. Rugged scenery, awe-inspiring views, viaducts and waterfalls make this train ride a spectacular day out.
From the summit of Snowdon, there is a breathtaking 360° vista. On a clear day you can see Ireland, England, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Edmund Hillary trained on Snowdon before he climbed Mount Everest. The first person on record to climb Snowdon was Thomas Johnson, back in 1639.
Llyn Padarn, a lovely lake in Llanberis, has a five-mile circular walk round the edge, taking in flowery meadows, forest tracks, lakeside views and sights relating to the area’s industrial heritage, including the free National Slate Museum and the old quarrymen’s hospital, www.museum.wales/slate. You can extend the walk a little to visit picturesque, round-towered Dolbadarn Castle, overlooking neighbouring Llyn Peris.
King Arthur is often linked with Snowdon, a mountain rich in myths. He is said to have killed Rhita there, a terrifying giant who made himself a cape from the beards of his enemies. Arthur’s men buried the dead giant on the summit of Snowdon and covered him with a cairn of huge stones, once known as Gwyddfa Rhudda (Rhita’s Cairn). Some say his knights, and even Arthur himself, are sleeping under the mountains, waiting for a call to arms.
Surf-lines in Llanberis offers a range of lake and mountain-based activities, including canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding on Llyn Padarn, www.surf-lines.co.uk. Padarn Adventures has a high rope course and a Tree Frogs kids’ adventure course for four to eight-year-olds, with wobbly bridges, tunnels and zip wires. They also organise rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, and multi activity days. www.padarnadventures.com
On the Rails
Although food and drinks are not available on our trains, our licensed Station Buffet and Platform Grill serve local Village Bakery savouries as part of a varied eat in or take away menu. The summit visitor centre, Hafod Eryri, is the highest café in Wales and England, and serves large Welsh Oggies (pasties) and fresh cream cakes from the local bakery.
Off the Rails
The Heights in Llanberis offers local real ales and filling pub grub, from beer battered fish and chips to steak pie, along with puddings and lunchtime sandwiches. www.theheightsllanberis.co.uk
The Heights no-frills bunkhouse near Lake Padarn in Llanberis, has carpeted dorms, a shared lounge and gardens. Dorm beds from £17. www.theheightsllanberis.co.uk
The Royal Victoria Hotel in Llanberis, a minute’s walk from the Snowdon Mountain Railway station, is a classic three star hotel, with views of woods and mountains and a castle in the grounds. Family rooms sleep up to five. Doubles from £58, B&B, www.theroyalvictoria.co.uk
Pre-book the 9.00am ‘Early Bird’ departure on traditional diesel service and get a great discount! www.snowdonrailway.co.uk/times-and-prices
There are regular buses from Bangor and Caernarfon (and Snowdon Sherpa bus links from Betws-y-Coed and Porthmadog) to Dol-y-Goden Interchange in Llanberis, adjacent to Snowdon Mountain Railway.
Aim for the sky as you head to the top of Snowdon via steam or diesel service. The spacious Snowdon Lily steam train is reconstructed from original Victorian carriages, which were built in 1896 to take travellers to the top of the highest mountain in Wales. It takes an hour to reach the summit and there is a half hour stopover at the top before the train returns to Llanberis. Hafod Eryri, the new oak and granite visitors’ centre on the summit, opened in 2009 and has a licensed café. On a clear day, there are epic views of four countries and nearly 30 lakes; on cloudy days, you can feel like a mountain explorer, heading up through mists to the hidden peak.
Combine a trip on the Snowdon Mountain Railway with one of the area’s spectacular walks. You could stroll a couple of miles from Llanberis and back to get a closer look at Ceunant Mawr waterfall, following the signed path from the village. If you are fit, adventurous, well-equipped and the weather conditions stay fine, you could even plan to walk up Snowdon. From the path, there are views over Cwm Brwynog to the distant blue of the sea. Returning trains might be full, in which case you would have to walk back down too, so start early. Maps are for sale at Llanberis station, Snowdon Trading Post, and at Hafod Eryri. There is a small café half way up the popular Llanberis path where you can stop and enjoy the views. For details about routes up Snowdon, see the Snowdonia National Park Authorities website www.eryri-npa.gov.uk
Did you know?
Snowdon Mountain Railway has been taking travellers to the summit since 1896 and is the UK’s only public rack and pinion railway.