On the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland railways (Wales)
The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland are railways crossed by tiny steam locomotives that stop at all small stations, crossing the 63-kilometer roads that cover the imposing mountains in North Wales and only in 4 hours. This route, which combines the oldest surviving railway company in the world, the Ffestiniog Railway, and the longest heritage railway in the United Kingdom, the Welsh Highland Railway, can be done in one day. As they pass by slate quarries and abandoned mines, travelers can see how the Industrial Revolution changed the Welsh landscape forever and, at the same time, see British nature in its entire splendor thanks to the dark forests, river valleys and the windy peaks of Snowdonia.
Although it is now treasured for its signature fleet of steam locomotives, the fact is that the Ffestiniog Railway was opened without a single locomotive since it was never intended for passenger transport. It was built in 1833 to move slate from the quarries of Blaenau Ffestiniog, to the ships waiting in the Irish Sea, downhill. These wagons were run by gravity and then horses hauled back the empty cars until the steam locomotives took over in the middle of the 19th century.
Travel tips: Almost all passengers board standard third-class carriages. You can also pay extra for the first-class travel in exquisite Pullman carriages with plush fabrics, comfortable seats and - best of all - large windows with breathtaking views of the mountains. In both railways, there is also a bar that serves hot and cold meals, and some services include afternoon tea. There are special routes throughout the year, from Victorian weekends to Christmas activities. The trains on both railways have seasonal schedules: the Ffestiniog has up to eight daily departures in the middle of the summer (July and August), while the Welsh Highland has three daily departures at peak times. Both are closed for extended periods in winter (from November to February). Keep in mind that the route has the best views in summer when the Welsh weather is more pleasant.