The Fairbourne Steam Railway is a narrow gauge line running for two miles between Fairbourne Station and Penrhyn Point on the beautiful Mawddach Estuary, where passengers can connect with a pedestrian ferry to Barmouth. The line is a narrow gauge (15 inch or 381 mm) since 1916.
Entry to the Fairbourne Museum and Model Railway Exhibit, both situated at the Fairbourne terminus. It is free of charge, and return train tickets are valid all day on the day of purchase.
The 20-minute journey takes you first alongside Beach Road, over level crossings, and then turns right to run parallel with the beach and Penrhyn Drive. The halts are all request stops and we didn’t stop at any of them or even in the passing loop as there was only one train in operation that day. After the loop, the road comes to an end and the line passes through a short tunnel under the sand dunes before arriving at Barmouth Ferry station at Porth Penrhyn.
There is a balloon loop at Porth Penrhyn and a run round loop at the station, either can be used. Our driver used the run-round loop, the locomotive Sherpa, therefore, returning tender first. Of course, if the balloon loop was used, the whole of the next out-and-back journey would have been tender first.
Barmouth Ferry station is home to the Harbour View Café but it is only open in peak season when a two-train service is running. It is also where you can catch the passenger ferry to Barmouth, across the Afon Mawddach estuary. There are brilliant views from here including Barmouth Bridge which takes the Cambrian Coast line and a footpath across the estuary.
The train returns to Fairbourne about 10 minutes after arrival but if the weather is good and the Harbour View Café is open, there’s no need to rush back as this is a really nice spot to stay a while.