Porthmadog

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Porthmadog is a large coastal town that is located close to the Lleyn Peninsula. The town once served as the major port for the export of Welsh Slate from the mines of Snowdonia but today has settled into a tourism hotspot.

Porthmadog is ideally placed for touring both Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsula. Two narrow-gauge railways have stations in the town.

You can enjoy a ride on the Ffestiniog Railway, the oldest narrow-gauge passenger train in the world, high into the hills above the beautiful Vale of Ffestiniog to the slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Trains runs all the year but are less frequent in winter. The Welsh Highland Railway, opened in 1980 by volunteers, starts from a modern terminus near the British Rail station and has a scenic route to Pen-y-Mount.

There the more adventurous can walk the old track bed towards Beddgelert amidst the wild beauty of the Aberglaslyn Pass, or explore the tunnels near Nantmor (strong shoes and a torch recommended).

The Porthmadog Maritime Museum on the old slate wharf describes the achievements of the Porthmadog ship and schooner builders and the traders who sailed in them.

The town has a cinema and at Porthmadog Pottery in Snowdon Street you can try your hand at throwing pots. There are also guided tours of the workshops.

The Rob Pierce Gallery and Tea Rooms, also in Snowdon Street, features prints by local artists. The industrial estate has a pottery and a car and motorbike museum. Two-and-a-half miles out of the town at Penmorfa is the Ty’n Llan Farm Museum in a wooded hollow at the end of a twisting, leafy lane. As well as a range of farm buildings there is an old church near the site of a stone circle.

The small seaside resort of nearby Borth-y-Gest has a crescent-shaped bay and pleasant coves. Morfa Bychan has a fine beach with the famous Black Rocks at the end.

There is a golf club and a trout farm nearby. Traeth Workshop at Llanfrothen, near Pearhyndeudraeth, sells custom-made dolls’ houses and original wooden toys.

The best of the coast and country is combined in this area – large beaches, a popular harbour town, a charming Victorian seaside resort and a beautiful wooded vale leading into the mountains. The expansive Black Rock Sands lie between Porthmadog and the pretty resort of Criccieth, crowned by the headland castle.

Close by is Llanystumdwy, where statesman David Lloyd George was brought up – his life is recalled at the memorial museum in the village. Tremadog is a popular climbing centre, while neighbouring Porthmadog is a lively harbour town with a rich maritime heritage. Slate – brought from Blaenau Ffestiniog was shipped all over the world from here. The slate was transported by a narrow-gauge railway (which now carries passengers) along the Vale of Ffestiniog, one of Snowdonia’s lovliest valley’s. Blaenau Ffestiniog is now a popular tourist town, with the attractions based at the old slate caverns. Another attraction not to be missed is Portmeirion, the amazing Italianate Village, which overlooks the sea.

Portmerion is one of the most remarkable and beautiful attractions in North Wales. Here, after the horrors of the First World War, dough Williams-Ellis created a magical village of beauty and peace. On a wooded peninsula framed by sea and mountain he lovingly constructed a pastel-coloured Italianate fantasy village resembling Sorrento or Portofino. Here he founded a home for ‘fallen buildings’ from all over Britain. The village was the setting for the Prisoner’ TV series. At nearby Llanfrothen, off the Beddgelert Road, you can see the gardens of dough Williams-Ellis’s former home, Plas Brondanw, including the ‘folly’ castle he built.

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