Great Little Trains of Wales

To celebrate St David’s Day yesterday, we thought we would focus our blog on the Great Little Trains of Wales. In total, there are 11 great little trains of Wales.  Various coach holidays to Wales include journeys on these railways. Let us look at each of the railways which make up the Great Little Trains of Wales :

 Snowdon Mountain Railway

One of the most well-known Great Little Trains of Wales, is the Snowdon Mountain Railway. This wonderful tourist railway has been taking passengers up the mountain since 1896. The train travels from Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon, Wales’ highest mountain, 1085m above sea level.

The Snowdon Mountain railway normally runs between May and the end of October, weather permitting.  The train journey on the Snowdon Mountain Railway is approximately 2.5 hours which includes at 30-minute stop at the summit. At the top you will find a visitor centre, Hafod Eryri, which offers a café and gift shop.

However, at present, there are restrictions so passengers will travel to Clogwyn Station which is ¾ distance to the summit. There you will find an unsheltered viewing platform offering spectacular views of the valleys below. The round journey is normally about 2 hours with some free time at the viewing platform.  

Welsh Highland Railway

The Welsh Highland Railway offers a 25-mile-long journey and is the UK’s longest heritage railway. This Great Little train of Wales takes you from historic Caernarfon and past the foot of Snowdon. Next, you go through the Aberglaslyn Pass, voted the most beautiful place in the UK by National Trust members and finally the journey ends in Porthmadog. where you can then join the Ffestiniog Railway.

Welsh Highland Heritage

Recreating the atmosphere of the old Welsh Highland Railway of the 1920s, the train journey takes you from Porthmadog to Pen y Mount. On the return journey, the train stops at Gelert’s Farm, where you can visit the award-winning museum or take a ride on the miniature railway.

The 11.75-mile journey on this Great Little Train takes approximately one hour in each direction.

Ffestiniog Railway

This railway is the oldest independent railway company in the World today. Truly a ‘Great Little Railway’, the 13 ½ mile journey starts in Porthmadog and takes you to the slate-quarrying town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. The train ride takes you into the mountains, past lakes and waterfalls, forests and pastures.

Bala Lake Railway

Take a journey through the beautiful Snowdonia National Park, alongside Bala Lake, on board this Great Little narrow-gauge steam train. This delightful 9-mile round journey offers wonderful views of the lake and nearby mountains. The Bala Lake Railways begins and ends at Llanuwchllyn station, where you can find locomotive sheds, a heritage centre and café.

Llanberis Lake Railway

The Llanberis Lake Railway takes you on a 5 mile return journey which lasts around 1 hour alongside the beautiful Llyn Padarn lake, in the heart of Snowdonia. The journey begins in Gilfach Ddu takes you past a castle, across a river and through Llanberis’ twin lakes to Llanberis village. Next, this great little train then takes you through Padarn Country Park and along the shores of the Lake to Penllyn, offering spectacular views of Mount Snowdon.

Talyllyn Railway

The Talyllyn railway is the world’s first preserved steam railway and has been running along the same route since 1865. The 14.5-mile round trip on board this great little train takes you through the delightful Fathew valley in the Southern Snowdonia National Park. The round trips last 2.5 hours including a 30-minute break at Abergynolwyn, where there is a café and toilet facilities.

Fairbourne Railway

The Fairbourne Railway has been running for over 100 years, connecting Fairbourne to the ferry across the harbour to Barmouth. This great little train journey is  2-mile long starting in Fairbourne village, along the beach, out to the end of the peninsular and back. There is an indoor model railway, museum and café to enjoy at the station.

Brecon Mountain Railway

What a great way to explore the Brecon Beacons National Park aboard this wonderful 10-mile round trip. The Brecon Mountain railway travels from Pant near Merthyr Tydfil to Torpantau high in the Brecon Beacons, passing by the Taf Fechan Reservoir. Pulled by a vintage steam locomotive, this great little train of Wales gives you fantastic views from the all-weather observation carriage.

Vale of Rheidol Railway

Rheidol Railway – Mid-Wales Steam Railway – Image by John R Jones

Opened in 1902, this Great Little train of Wales is a wonderful way to explore the stunning Rheidol Valley.  Starting the journey in Aberystwyth, the narrow-gauge steam train climbs up 700ft (200m) to Devil’s Bridge, home to the famous Waterfalls. The 11.75 mile journey takes approximately one hour in each direction.

Welshpool & Llanfair Railway

The Welshpool and Llanfair Railway opened in 1903 linking the market town of Welshpool to the community of Llanfair Caereinion. The narrow-gauge steam train takes you through the lovely Mid-Wales countryside. This wonderful 8-mile train journey to Llanfair Caereinion takes around 45 minutes.

Great Little Train of Wales Coach Holidays

Many coach operators offer tours featuring rail journeys all over the UK and Europe. Some of the most popular coach holidays are the Great Little Trains of North Wales and the Vale of Rheidol Railway