With an astonishingly monotone, grey landscape, thanks to both the wet climate and the vast slate mines which once formed the very heart of the Welsh slate mining industry, at first glance Blaenau Ffestiniog is an unlikely tourist draw, despite sitting high at the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. Nonetheless its dogged re-invention since the demise of the slate mining industry means that it does have a number of attractions to those visiting the National Park. The most famous of these is undoubtedly the Ffestiniog Railway which connects the inland mining town with Porthmadog some fifteen or so miles away on the coast, and which was instrumental in transporting vast quantities of slate from Blaenau Ffestiniog’s huge quarries to the ships waiting at sea.
Since the demise of the mines in the middle of the last century, the line, a feat of engineering which influenced railway construction around the globe, has been reinvented as a tourist route, with passengers enjoying the twists turns and loops of the ride whilst passing through the spectacular hills, rivers, lakes and streams of Snowdonia all in one enjoyable day out.
The other main draw in Blaenau Ffestiniog is equally connected to the town’s mining history. It is the Llechwedd Slate Caverns, which remain a working mine quarrying Greaves Porthmadog slate, but which has also been transformed into an award-winning and informative visitor attraction, taking its visitors on a railway tour deep underground, exploring the vast caverns and chambers deep in the earth in a rather humbling recreation of the life of the Victorian miner. Similarly informative is the Ffestiniog Power Station; a massive hydro electric plant which also has a visitor centre and subterranean tours. This is located at Tanygrisiau, close to Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Why not take a look at our self catering cottages in Blaenau Ffestiniog?