Not only is a ride on the Snowdon Mountain Railway a breath-taking experience, it is also the chance to see at first hand a remarkable feat of engineering.
The narrow gauge ‘rack and pinion’ railway takes visitors up and down the mountainside and for those that do reach the top they are rewarded by the stunning panoramic views and the knowledge that they are standing on the highest peak in England and Wales. This is the only public rack and pinion railway in operation in the UK. A third rail with teeth meshes with a third wheel under the locomotive to give traction on the steep slopes. The railway has been in operation for more than 100 years, taking walkers and sightseers up the side of Wales’s highest mountain throughout the seasons.
It has been a remarkable story of success but one that in the early history of the railway was not without its troubles. Opened in 1896, the line suffered from derailments and one passenger died after jumping from a runaway train. After the accident the line was closed for a year and an inquiry determined that the weight and speed of the trains had to be limited resulting in lighter carriages being brought and some mechanical changes were made to the track to enable the wheels to grip better. It was reopened in April 1897, after which there were no more accidents and normal service resumed.
During the early part of the Second World War the trains still ran but passengers were no longer taken to the summit. In 1946 normal service resumed but due to the lack of coal the railway even attempted to burn old army boots to fire the boilers.
The Snowdon Mountain Railway was the inspiration behind the fictitious ‘Culdee Fell’ Railway stories, written by Reverend W. Awdry of Thomas the Tank Engine fame.
Snowdon has much to offer people of all ages and abilities. The area designated as a National Nature Reserve. It is well known for the rare plants that can be found there with the most famous being the ‘Snowdon Lilly’ which can also be seen in the Alps and mountains of North America. The rocks that make up the area date back to the Ordovician Period, (geologic period millions of years ago).
This area is visited by thousands of people every year and is ideal for rock climbing, trek walking, artists and nature lovers.
Whilst this is a place of beauty, it has some of the most challenging and hostile weather conditions imaginable. The further up the mountain you go the bleaker the conditions can be. No one should contemplate setting off to ascend Snowdon without the correct clothing, food and equipment.
From the summit station of the railway it is possible, on a clear day, to see the beautiful lakes of the valleys below – including Llyn Coch. Local legends claim that the lake is the home of water faeries and other supernatural beings from that same realm. There is even a story of how a farmer once tricked a lovely water nymph from Llyn Coch into becoming his wife.
Camping in the Forest Campsite
A4085 (Road), Beddgelert
Gwynedd, Wales, LL55 4UU
+44 (0)1766 890 288
- Address: A4086, Llanberis, (Caernarfonshire) Gwynedd, Wales, UK, LL55 4TY
- GPS: 53.11639722,-4.119502778
- Phone: 0044(0)844 493 8120
- Part of UK: Wales
- Sat Nav Postcode: LL55 4TY
- Entrance Fees: Yes
- Disabled Access: Yes to train / Ramped access for a wheelchairs
- Visibility from Road: Excellent
- Image Credits: Header Image: Maisna