We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

The essence of North wales

Whangarei, New...
Level Contributor
752 posts
24 reviews
Save Topic
The essence of North wales

I wish to base our trip in and around Snowdonia, and to stay in a quintessential "Welsh village" Where The tongue is the norm, & overseas visitors are welcome. Any suggestions ? Our Main interest is in touring all the Welsh narrow gauage railways, so our choice of location is open.


5 replies to this topic
Scunthorpe, United...
Level Contributor
3,583 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: The essence of North wales

You have set a challenge here as the Great Little Railways are not usually done from a single base. Distances in Wales may not look far on a map but that is deceptive as driving times will be longer than you might expect.

Roads in Wales are narrow, often with stone walls and many bends. Passing may not be easy. In summer roads are busy with holiday traffic. Often this can be slow as people potter along at 40mph admiring the scenery and taking little notice of what is happening behind. Then there are caravans as well as farm traffic and animals on the roads.

One of the best websites for working out distances and estimated driving times is:


Remember these times are MINIMUMS and you will need to add on extra for stops (road works, slow moving traffic etc).

I've been giving a lot of thought for a suitable base. Snowdonia is a good base for the Welsh Highland, Ffestiniog and LLanberis Lake Railways, but completely impracticable for Talyllyn, Vale of Rheidol and Brecon Mountain Railway.

A compromise might be Dolgellau. This is possibly more 'quintessential Welsh' than many settlements in Snowdonia. Provided you are prepared for the long driving most of the railways can be reached from there.

Dolgellau to Porthmadog (for Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog) is about 25 miles and 40-45min drive time.

Dolgellau to Llanberis for the Lakeside Railway is 45 miles and about 75 min drive.

Dolgellau to Tywyn for the Talyllyn Railway is 20 miles and about 45min drive

Dolgellau to Aberystwyth for Vale of Rheidol is 35miles and about 50min drive.

Dolgellau to Merthyr Tydfil for the Brecon Mountain Railway is the furthest at 110miles which is going to take at least 2.5 hours each way.

Not strictly one of the Great Little Trains but never the less worth considering if you are in the area is the Fairbourne Steam Railway just 9 miles away and a 20minute drive:


Sorry I can't help with accommodation around here. A google search "Dolgellau self catering accommodation" throws up several ideas for you to have a look at.


Whangarei, New...
Level Contributor
752 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: The essence of North wales

Eleanor thanks for you thoughts and valuable input into my trip. We are planing to do 5 railways in 7 days - Ffestiniog,Welsh highland, Talyllyn,vale of Reidol, and lake Bala. I grew up in Uk so am familiar with driving times. Spent many years in Cumbria which i imagine is comparable. In our part of the world a 4 /5 hour drive is very much the norm, so i have no concerns with the time frames you have mentioned. Yes Dolgellau looks appealing as a central point and the town looks interesting but i have found little of interest in the cottages that have been thrown up on some sites . Trawsfynydd, looks nice , some very nice looking cottages, but perhaps a bit remote for evening entertainment ? Do you know if Dolgellau offers much as an evening destination ?

Many thanks for you help


Scunthorpe, United...
Level Contributor
3,583 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: The essence of North wales

If you are used to driving in Cumbria, North Wales will be very similar. I was a bit heavy on driving conditions as we get a lot of questions from Americans and Australians who seem to think driving here will be the same as back home and it isn't.

I don't think there would be much in the way of evening entertainment at Trawsfynydd as it really is in the middle of nowhere. Dolgellau should be better. However, we have always seen Dolgellau during the day so I don't know what there is on offer at night. Either try posting a specific question on Trip Adviser or else contact Dolgellau Tourist Information Centre who may be able to help.

Tourist Information Centre

Ty Meirion

Eldon Square



LL40 1PU

Tel: 01341 422888

Email: tic.dolgellau@eryri-npa.gov.uk

You will love the different railways and each is very different - scenery, history, motive power... The Ffestiniog is always my favourite with its double fairlie locos. The scenery at the top end of the Vale of Rheidol is amazing. If there is time do try and do the waterfall walks at the top end at Devils' Bridge.


Hopefully by the time you arrive the Welsh Highland will have reopened to Porthmadog. I've not done this run yet. Daughter went on it from Caernarfon to Rhydd Ddu a few years back and was very impressed - even better than the Ffestiniog, which was high praise from her as she used to be a volunteer fireman on the FR.

You will have a marvellous time.


4. Re: The essence of North wales

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This post was determined to be inappropriate by the TripAdvisor community and has been removed.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

Our staff may also remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason. Thanks for being a part of the TripAdvisor travel community!

Removed on: 11 February 2011, 13:05
Dunfermline, United...
Level Contributor
13,068 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: The essence of North wales

Last post reported as spam

Reply to: The essence of North wales
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted