The 19.5 mile Welsh Highland Railway running deep into the Snowdonia National Park is one of the most spectacular train journeys in Europe. From the water's edge next to the Medieval Castle in Caernarfon, the line passes through the foothills of Snowdon past mountain lakes and rapid rivers to the harbour town of Porthmadog. WHR Trains returned to Beddgelert in May 2009, thanks to the hard work and dedication of volunteers. After Beddgelert, the railway heads toward the famous Aberglaslyn Pass high above the fast flowing Afon Glaslyn before plunging dramatically into tunnels through the hillside. Once at Porthmadog, it is possible to travel onwards on the Festiniog trains up to Blaenau Ffestiniog - a steam journey of over 40 miles!
Most trains from Beddgelert have a cycle carriage (Bike hire in Beddgelert and Caernarfon) and it is possible to start your accent of Snowdon on two of the most popular paths by taking the train to either Rhyd Ddu or the Snowdon Ranger request stop.
The renowned Ffestiniog Railway is the oldest independent railway company in the world and is one of the biggest visitor attractions in Wales. It has run steam-hauled passenger services from Porthmadog to the slate mining town Blaenau Ffestiniog since the 1860s. From the harbour, the train crosses the famous cob with wonderful views of the coastline, before climbing a monumental 700 feet through the mountains.
The nearby Llanberis Lake Railway runs along some of the track bed of the old 4ft gauge Padarn Railway which carried slates from the Dinorwic quarry to Port Dinorwic on the Menai Strait from 1843 to 1961. The quarry lines continued to be used until 1969 when the Dinorwic quarry finally closed. Several of the quarry locomotives were saved and in 1971 the Llanberis Lake Railway was born.
The railway runs from the station on the edge of Llanberis to the Welsh Slate Museum, housed in the old quarry workshops. The railway then runs along the shores of Llyn Padarn. The collection of re-gauged "Quarry Hunslet" steam locomotives saved from the quarry lines still run on the line.
The hugely popular Snowdon Mountain Railway, opened in 1896, is the only public rack railway in Britain. It runs from Llanberis to 20 feet below the summit of Mount Snowdon. It uses the Swiss ABT rack system allowing the one-carriage trains to ascend nearly 3,000ft in just over 4 miles. Most services are still steam operated using locomotives dating back to the 1890s. Refreshments are available at the new cafe/visitor centre (Hafod Eryri).
Other nearby steam railways include The Fairbourne and Barmouth, Llangollen Railway and Bala Lake Railway.