A train climbing up a mountain, albeit the highest in Wales, was our Christmas present. And I thought, I may like trains but do I really, really want to go up a mountain in one?
In the end we travelled on several. These, I may add, were all geriatrics, lovingly restored to former glories and nurtured for further use. You will find them all over Wales, ex-slate mine engines with adorable names. Our first was Elidir, built in 1889, pulling wooden carriages with equally wooden seats of comparable age, around the beautiful lake of Llanberis and beneath the stunning mountains of the Snowdonia range. Our immediate introduction to the line was with its chief engineer, a slip of a woman who had served her apprenticeship and was cleaning off the line with a mechanical piece of equipment that looked like a motor mower, before the first trip of the day. It appeared she was having a break from being in the actual engine house and stripping down one of the original engines!
Crossing the road we then ventured up Snowdon itself with a choice of either steam or diesel train. At £40 a head for the steam train we opted for the diesel experience at £30 per person. We climbed aboard the new coaches, named after Sir David Brailsford CBE, and were PUSHED up the mountain by means of the rack and pinion method by diesel engine No. 9, Ninian built, as all the engines were, by the Hunslet Engine Co., of Leeds. The eldest steam locomotive, ENID, to climb to the summit since it was opened in 1896 is still going. Once at the summit, as long as the cloud has not enveloped you, a fantastic view surrounds you and if it has then a brand new and welcoming venue of hot food, drinks and the inevitable gift shop awaits.
At Blaenau Ffestiniog the steam railway of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway stretches for 40 miles around the Snowdonia National Park. Sit back, relax and enjoy.
Going west to Barmouth the little Fairbourne Railway is a sedate little ride and set in a scenic coastal area is a gorgeous trip on a beautiful day.
And these are just a few of them! Enjoy.