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Travel / Tours / Wales / North
An introduction to North Wales
  Blaenau Ffestiniog (steam train from Porthmadog)
  Further information


Below is a brief introduction for visitors to North Wales, including the Snowdonia National Park and the Isle of Anglesey.

North Wales and Snowdonia (Insight Compact Guides)
Publisher: APA Publications
Date: March 2005
50 Walks in Snowdonia and North Wales
Author: John Gillham
Publisher: AA Publishing
Date: January 2003

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Conwy (population 4,000) is a pretty coastal town in north Wales. It is dominated by its castle, which was built by the English king Edward the First between 1283 and 1287 and is a World Heritage site. The old part of the town is surrounded by a stone wall, parts of which can still be walked today. In the harbour is the smallest house in Great Britain.

Conwy Castle
is over 700 years old

The smallest house in
Great Britain ...

... to live here, being small is
a big advantage

View of Conwy Castle from the town wall

Conwy's marina

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Llandudno (population 22,000) is the largest seaside resort in Wales. In Victorian times the coast of North Wales (including Rhyl and Colwyn Bay as well as Llandudno) became a popular destination for seaside holidays for workers from the nearby English cities of Liverpool and Manchester. Llandudno is typical of many Victorian seaside towns: a wide promenade allows visitors to walk along the coast even when the tide is high, behind the promenade is a row of hotels offering fine sea views, and shops provide visitors with meals (including fish and chips), souvenirs, sweets (such as "rock") and amusements.

Llandudno's north shore

Grand Hotel

You can walk along the town's pier (built in 1877) to enjoy the views

Llandudno Bay at high tide

Close to Llandudno is a limestone headland called the Great Orme which can be reached by tram. 4,000 year old copper mines have been found in this area: at the Visitor Centre you can find out about life in the Bronze Age. From the summit there are views of the Irish Sea, Isle of Anglesey, Snowdonia, the North Wales coastline and Liverpool.

A tramway runs from Llandudno to the Great Orme

One of the views from the Great Orme.
You can see a limestone quarry, the sea and mountains of Snowdonia.
People have used stones to write their names near the quarry.

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Anglesey is an island off the north-west coast of Wales. It contains some of the most fertile land in North WalesIt is separated from the mainland by a stretch of water called the Menai Strait, which can be crossed either by the Menai Bridge (built by Thomas Telford in 1826) or by the Britannia Bridge (built by Robert Stephenson in 1850).

Menai Bridge

Britannia Bridge

A column was built on the island in 1817. This was to honour of the Marquess of Anglesey, who was second-in-command to the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 (the French leader Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated at this battle and was sent into exile). The Marquess of Anglesey's statue was placed on top of the column in 1860, after he had died. For a small charge you can climb 115 steps to the top to enjoy views of Anglesey, the Menai Strait and the mountains of Snowdonia.

The Marquess of Anglesey's

Statue of the Marquess of Anglesey
(at the top of the column)

Nearby is the village which has the longest name in Britain (58 letters): Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. There is a train station and a visitor centre. This is a popular stop for coaches on their way to Holyhead to catch a ferry across the Irish Sea to Dublin, the capital city of the Republic of Ireland.

Train station

The station with the longest name. It means:
"The church of Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees
near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio's of the red cave"

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There are several steam train services in North Wales. The Rheilffordd Ffestiniog Railway service connects the coastal town of Porthmadog to the village of Blaenau Ffestiniog (population 6,000). The railways were built in the mid-19th century to move slate from the mines in the mountains of Snowdonia to the ports, from where it was exported worldwide (used mainly for roof tiles). The slate industry has declined, but the train line has been restored as a visitor attraction. During the train journey (which lasts about 1 hour 15 minutes) you can enjoy attractive views of mountains, waterfalls, forests and lakes in the Snowdonia National Park.

The train journey starts near Porthmadog

Inside one of the carriages

The train goes through forests ...

... past a reservoir ...

... and this waterfall

The terminus is at Blaenau Ffestiniog

Time for a photo in front of the steam engine

Slate monument in Blaenau Ffestiniog

Slate is used locally for roof tiles and on the walls

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* Booking a tour
The photos were taken during a 2-day "Wales Coast and Mountains" tour from London organised by International Friends.
For the dates of future tours see: Travel/Tours/Company/InternationalFriends

* Visitor information
North Wales Tourism:
Llandudno Tourism:
Llandudno Attractions:
Great Orme Tramway:
Cadw (Welsh castles and heritage):
Visit Anglesey:
Rheilffordd Ffestiniog Railway (steam train):

* Transportation
- Train services from London Euston to Llandudno or Conwy take between 3 hours and 4 hours, sometimes requiring changes of train in Crewe, Chester or Llandudno Junction. For train timetables and to buy a ticket, see: Shop/Company/TheTrainline.
- Coach journeys from London's Victoria Coach Station to Llandudno last about 8 hours. For timetables and to buy a coach ticket, see: Shop/Company/NationalExpress.
- To find details of ferry services from Holyhead (Anglesey) to Dublin or Dun Laoghaire (Irish Republic), see: Travel/Transport/Ferry
- Welsh public transport information:

* Weather forecast
Weather forecast for Llandudno:
Weather forecast for Conwy:
Weather forecast for Blaenau Ffestiniog:

Lonely Planet verdict: North Wales
"Little Conwy needs no theme park - it's the real thing. One of Europe's best-surviving, medieval, walled settlements, the town is dominated by an outstanding castle ... Blaenau Ffestiniog is an infamous mining town overlooked by staggering mountains of slag. Vintage engines and carriages date back to 1860 on the other-worldly, 13.5-mile narrow-gauge Ffestiniog Railway"
(extracts from "Lonely Planet Great Britain - 2003 edition", used with permission)
Lonely Planet Great Britain
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: May 2007
Lonely Planet Wales
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: May 2007
Other Lonely Planet publications

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Wales: Travel/Tours/Wales
Chester: Travel/Tours/England/Chester
Liverpool: Travel/Tours/England/Liverpool
Manchester: Travel/Tours/England/Manchester
Blackpool: Travel/Tours/England/Blackpool
Dublin: Travel/Tours/Ireland/Dublin

Introduction to Wales: Britain/Countries/Wales
National Railway Museum, York: Travel/Tours/England/York

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