Blaenau Ffestiniog is a small town in the Snowdonia Mountains in Wales. Blaenau Ffestiniog is a former slate-mining village and consists of one main road with all the others leading off it.
A narrow-gauge railway, the Ffestiniog Railway, was built from Blaenau Ffestiniog to take the slate down to the sea at Porthmadog. The railway ceased operation after some 110 years of operation due to the run down of the slate industry, road competition, and the Second World War. It was fully reopened to Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1982 and is one of the town's main tourist attractions.
The best option to get to the town is by car - mostly because there aren't that many buses or trains to get around. The town is on the A470 from Llandudno to Dolgellau and the A487 from Porthmadog. There are no fuel stations in the town, so fill up your tank well before you get there. There is a Shell station near Betws y Coed on the A5 (11 miles from Blaenau). Other options are at Porthmadog.
There aren't that many buses to Blaenau. X1/84 run from Llandudno and Betws-y-Coed, every 1-2 hours on workdays. There are also buses to Porthmadog (1B - approximately every 70 minutes) and Dolgellau.
The Conwy Valley Line runs from Llandudno to Blaenau, but only has a train every 3 hours or so. The main 1 railway station is also the terminus for the narrow-gauge heritage Ffestiniog Railway from Porthmadog. On some summer days it has more frequent departures than the "real" railway.
As the town is quite small you can easily get around on foot and the town has undergone a face lift to help attract visitors to what was the 'Slate Capital of the World' in its hey-day. The Llechwedd Slate Caverns, which celebrate the town's famous history, are a mile's walk from the station on the road to Dolwyddelan over the Crimea Pass - or go by car. As all the main roads in and out of town are very narrow main roads with quite fast traffic, so the bicycle isn't a good idea - and for mountain biking other towns in the area are better bases. Blaenau Ffestiniog is celebrated as the only town in North Wales where all roads lead into the Snowdonia National Park. At 850 ft above sea level, it makes the town an ideal base for exploring the park.
- 1 Llechwedd Slate Caverns (on the northern edge of town on the main A470 road), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Open daily at 1000 except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Last tour: 1715 (mar-sep), 1615 (oct-feb) Victorian Village closed oct-mar. shows the history of slate quarrying in the town. One of north Wales' premier tourist attractions, and with good reason. The Deep Mine tour involves some walking, including steps, and takes you down as far as 450 ft below the summit of the mountain. This tour starts with a ride on Britains steepest passenger railway, dropping down several levels within the mine. There follows a walking tour through 10 of the huge "chambers" within the mine. There are a number of attractions and displays on the surface, including the Victorian Village which aims to paint a picture of daily life for local people in the mid 19th Century. Can get fully booked on busy days such as bank holiday weekends so worth booking in advance to avoid disappointment. Deep Mine Tour: Adults £20.00 per person Group discounts..
- 1 Ffestiniog Railway, The Ffestiniog Railway Society (next to the mainline station in the town centre), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. April - Oct with reduced timetable the rest of the year. Narrow-gauge railway built in the 1800s to convey slate to Porthmadog, opening in 1836. It closed in 1946 due to declining demand but was reopened thanks to public work in sections over the next several decades and finally completely finished by 1982. Part of the original stretch had to be built higher up due to a power station reservoir that was built on a section of the original track in 1954. Stations are as follows, West to East: Porthmadog, Boston Lodge, Minfford, Penrhyn, Plas Halt, Tan-y-Bwlch, Dduallt, Tan-y-Grisiau, & Blaenau Ffestiniog. The journey is 14 miles. Costs £16.50 round trip, 2.5 hours round trip, £6 more for first class observation car.
- 2 Zip World Slate Caverns, Llechwedd Slate Caverns, LL41 3NB (about 1 mile north of Blaenau, via the A470), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 'Titan' available year round. Check 'ride status' online, on the day. One of three Zip World attractions in the area (the others are in Betws-y-Coed and Bethesda), this is located in an abandoned slate quarry. Zip World Caverns is a unique underground journey, across zipwires, rope bridges, via ferrata and tunnels. The 'Titan' is a 2000 m zipwire with stunning views over the landscape. 'Bounce Below' is a bouncy underground play area for all ages (7 to adult) 'Titan' zip wire: £50 p.p. / £180 group of four; 'Caverns': £60 p.p. / £220 group of four; 'Bounce Below': £25 p.p.
- Alam Tandoori Indian & Bangladeshi Restaurant, High St, Blaenau Ffestiniog (10 minutes' walk down the main road from the railway station). The only proper sit-down restaurant open in the evenings in the town which isn't a pub, takeaway or chippy. Offers surprisingly good food at very reasonable prices.
- The Bridge Cafe, High St, Blaenau Ffestiniog LL41 3HD (opposite the railway station). Cosy tea rooms with friendly staff offering a selection of delicious food and hot drinks during the day at good prices.
- 1 Bryn Elltyd eco Guesthouse, Bryn Elltyd, Tanygrisiau (2 miles south of A496; 200 yd from Ffestiniog hydro power station), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 1883 guest-house with 6 bedrooms and all energy inputs from renewables. Zero carbon 2 mile south and downhill from Blaenau ffestioniog. In a long curve of the Ffestiniog steam railway. station. Tanygrasiau station is 200 m. Visit Wales graded, all en suite, wi-fi, 3 electric car charge points, robust bike store, ample parking, an acre of mountain/garden, drying room. Gold Green Tourism award, Uk eco Considerate Hotelier winner twice. Biomass heating integrated to 4 solar arrays, solar PV electric array, rainwater harvest for loo flushing, sheep's wool insulation, warm air captured in two conservatories and used in house. Own timber for tables. Fresh bread cooked each day £45pppn.
- Gwesty Tŷ Gorsaf (Station House Hotel), 1 High St, Blaenau Ffestiniog LL41 3ES (next to the railway station). Good quality clean & comfortable rooms and very convenient location in the middle of the town right next to the railway station. Breakfast rather mediocre however (with self-service instant coffee) and dinner menu consists of fairly uninspiring bog standard pub grub. Staff friendly and helpful.