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Monday, 13 August 2012

Llanberis Lake Railway

In a nutshell

Gauge:         1' 11 ½"

Length:  2.5 miles (4 km)

Opened: 1824 (horsedrawn) - 1842 (steam hauled) - 1971 (Heritage Railway)


Rheilffordd Llyn Padarn
Gilfach Ddu,
LL55 4TY 

Tel: 01286 870549 

View Larger Map


Date of visit: 11 August 2012


Key Facts

  • The route for the present day railway partly follows that of the 4' gauge Padarn railway which connected the Dinorwic Slate Quarries at Llanberis with Port Dinorwic on the Menai Straits.
  • The 2'(ish) narrow gauge wagons were loaded side by side on Padarn Railway transporter wagons
  •  One of the original 4' gauge locomotives, Fire Queen, is preserved in the museum at Penrhyn Castle
  • The slate quarries at Llanberis used a large number of 1' 10¾" gauge steam locomotives to haul slate wagons at different levels in the quarry. Two of the former Hunslet quarry locomotives now haul the trains on the Llanberis Lake Railway and one of the Hunlset locomotives on the line was used at Port Dinorwic
  • The actual gauge of 1' 10¾" was determined after measuring 2' between the centres of each rail rather than the edges
  • Other former Dinorwic quarry locomotives have been preserved and now run on the Bala Lake Railway and the Statfold Barn Railway
  • The former workings for the slate quarries at Gilfach Ddu, Llanberis are now the Welsh National Slate Museum which houses the largest working water wheel in mainland Britain



Map: © OpenStreetMap contributors/ / CC-BY-SA-3.0

My Impressions

 Although we could have boarded the train at Llanberis Station we decided to explore the area around Gilfach Ddu where there is much to see, including the National Slate Museum (free admission).......

the quarries with their several walks and trails........
 ....... and the former hospital for the quarries which give some indication of the dangerous working conditions for the quarrymen.

We bought our tickets in the station building, which houses a small souvenir shop and a café ......

..... and awaited the arrival of our train, which on this occasion was hauled by former quarry Hunslet, Thomas Bach.

After taking on water and refuelling, we departed for Llanberis Station, where Thomas Bach ran around the train.........

 ....... before departing back down the line, this time passing through Gilfach Ddu without stopping. As we clicked and clacked our way beside the lake we had some fine views of the Snowdon Range, the summit of which was shrouded in cloud

...... before reaching the end of the line at Penllyn,  where the loco once more ran round its train.

At about the midway point on our return journey we paused for ten minutes at Cei Lledan station........

........ where we were passed by one of the line's other former quarry Hunslet locomotives, Dolbadarn. which formerly worked on the quayside at Port Dinowrwic.

On reaching Gilfach Ddu we alighted, though we could have stayed aboard to reach the terminus at Llanberis.

Certainly, for a day out, Llanberis has much to offer for all members of the family. On the train journey we shared our carriage with a young family and in a strong Liverpudlian accent one othe children said, "Llanberis is the best place in the whole world!" and somehow, I couldn't disagree with him.


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