Family road trip Wales: Portmeirion – Blaenau Ffestiniog

Happy Sunday and welcome back to our family road trip in Wales. This week, we travel the route Harlech – Portmeirion – Blaenau Ffestiniog.


From Harlech, we carried on towards Portmeirion, a seaside village on the Welsh coast, and one of our favourite places. I won’t say too much about it, since we’ve covered this crazy, beautiful place before. Just one photo…

Portmeirion - Blaenau Ffestiniog

Blaenau Ffestiniog

This is the image I had of Wales before I was ever here: a slightly drab country, grey as the slate industry it relied on for so long, and eternally overcast.


Or, as Edmund, Lord Blackadder the Third, would say:

It’s a ghastly place. Huge gangs of tough sinewy men roam the valleys terrorising people with their close-harmony singing. You need half a pint of phlegm in your throat just to pronounce the placenames.

Just a ruse, I suspect, to keep people out. What I’ve seen of Wales is every bit as beautiful as Scotland.

But the slate industry was real and Blaenau Ffestiniog was its capital – in Victorian times. These days slate isn’t much in demand. Today, the town relies on tourism, with the Ffestiniog Railway and the Llechwedd Slate Caverns as the main attractions.


The Ffestiniog Railway is one of Wales’ narrow gauge railways, running through the very pretty Vale of Ffestiniog, between Porthmadog (nearest town to Portmeirion) and Blaenau. Better, I’m sure, than seeing the landscape from a hire car, as we did.

At Llechwedd Slate Caverns you can take the Miners’ Tramway and/or descend 150 m/500 ft underground (via cable car) to explore the quarry and learn about the slate industry and experience life as a miner. Although you’ll have electricity and other mod cons; the miners had candles.

If, like us, you arrive after 5 pm, you’ll have to settle for hiking or biking, checking out the old-fashioned pubs (and hear locals speak Welsh) or just wandering around town, taking in the gorgeous surroundings.

Blaenau Ffestiniog, unfiltered.

Blaenau Ffestiniog practicals

We arrived in town too late for both the slate mine and the heritage railway. Next time we’re in Snowdonia, we’ll plan better.

Llechwedd Slate Caverns

  • opening times in 2013 from Mid-March onwards: 0930 – 1730 (last tour at 1645)
  • entrance fee: tramway or deep mine tour: £10.50/£8.50/£9.50 for adults/children/seniors and students. £17/£13/£15.75 if you want to do both

Ffestiniog Railway

  • a timetable can be found here
  • fares: £20.20/£18.20 for adults/concessions for a third-class round-trip, all-day ticket – or add £6 for a seat in the first-class observation carriage.


Stay tuned for more fab finds in Wales next Sunday



12 Responses to “Family road trip Wales: Portmeirion – Blaenau Ffestiniog”

  1. Salika Jay 5 August 2013 1038 #

    Blaenau Ffestiniog surroundings look beautiful. It would be great for some hiking.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2013 1515 #

      It’s an unusual place, very Welsh – industrial mixed with stunning nature.

  2. Andrea 7 August 2013 0033 #

    I’ve always been curious about Wales…this looks so serene and beautiful

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2013 1516 #

      Hope you go, it’s a highly underrated country.

  3. Andrew Graeme Gould 7 August 2013 0337 #

    I just love that image with the horses, Sophie! Sounds like an excellent trip.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2013 1525 #

      Thanks, Andrew.

  4. The hubs and I have long had Wales on our travel wish list. It’s a destination that definitely doesn’t seem to get much attention, but from the looks of your pictures, it should! I’d like to invite you/remind you to link up for Wanderlust Wednesday on my blog today. Feel free to add your link until Saturday!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 9 August 2013 1040 #

      Popping over 🙂

  5. Leigh 9 August 2013 0400 #

    I agree with Lord Blackadder about clearing your throat to pronounce the Welsh place names. Your first photo is very beautiful and I can definitely see the appeal of the place.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 9 August 2013 1039 #

      Both interesting places, in very different ways.

  6. Ron Danforth 9 August 2013 0522 #

    Oh wow! There is some seriously gorgeous scenery to be seen there! I especially love the photo of the fields from Blaenau Ffestiniog. It looks like a really great place to sit back and enjoy some time in a tiny pub at night and hike around during the day.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 9 August 2013 1031 #

      I think so, too. Would be an interesting and laid-back place to spend a bit more time.

Leave a Reply