Dec. 14, 2010
-- The Snowdon Mountain Railway is one that has been operating for over 100 years. This popular tourist attraction is the only public rack and pinion railway in the United Kingdom. It is a Railway that is geared towards tourism hence why it is only 4.7 miles long. It starts at the village of Llanberis and ends at the summit of Snowdon (pending weather and season). Snowdon has the highest mountain peak in England and Wales. The line is owned and run by Heritage great Britain who also have a few other tourist attractions all over Britain.
The construction of the railway was first proposed in the middle of the 19th century but nothing came of it as it was thought that a railway would spoil the scenery. It wasn't until there was a proposal to build a railway to the summit of Snowdon from Rhyd Ddu that Llanberis started to show intent as they feared that it would drive tourists away. The work of the railway started in 1894 and finished in Easter of 1896.
The journey begins at Llanberis Station, once you leave the station it begins a steep incline up in which it goes along the first of two viaducts that crosses Afon Hwch. Along the way you will see a waterfall which there is a station by it where the train would stop so that people can marvel at it. But now this is closed, this station marks the beginning of the mountain. The next part of the journeys is the looping track at Hebron that is named after the nearby Hebron Chapel which is now in ruins. Up the halfway point of the mountain is the second loop of the track this is the part where the train stops so that water is taken aboard. There is a path here that leads to the Halfway House café where you can get a quick bite to eat, it is also here where you can get views of the other trains that are on the track as there are three passing points on the mountain. Once everything is done and the train is set to go then it sets off up to Rocky Valley is the point of the journey where it can end depending on what the weather is like. This part is that of a narrow platform that is protected by a rocky outcrop that lies on the east.
Beyond the Rocky Valley is an exposed ridge that runs for half a mile towards Clogwyn station this is another point in the journey where it can terminate. This is due to the snow from the mountains, so from March to the end of April this SMR usually stops at this station. From this point you can see fantastic views of Llanberis and the summit and on a clear day you can see the peaks of the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland and the Isle of Man. The final stop on the SMR is the Summit of Snowdon. Here lies the Summit Visitor Centre, Hafod Eryri which opened in 2009, it was built to look like it has grown out of the mountain, it was built out of granite which complements the mountain very well. In the building there are panoramic windows that give you a view of the whole mountain, it is dubbed the 'window on the world'. There is a postbox inside of the centre which means that Hafod Eryri has the highest post box in Wales. You could send a loved one a postcard that the centre sells also stamps too if you need one.
The trains operate from late March to the end of October and tickets are available daily although it is advisable to book ahead. They can be purchased in single and return trips. A journey to the summit can take 2½ hours this includes the 30 minute stop at the peak. Llanberis is a village and has nice Snowdonia holiday homes that aren't that far from the SMR railway station.
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