North to Mid-Wales, the Snowdonia National Park to Aberystwyth via Barmouth and Machynlleth A496-A493-A487. Alongside the roads for most of the route the Cambrian Coast railway line runs from Pwllheli on the Lleyn Peninsula around the coast to Aberystwyth; for further information telephone 0345 484950 or contact your local rail station for Freedom of Wales rail travel details.
Anticipated time needed to complete Trail: 3-4 days
Please contact museums and other venues in advance to confirm seasonal opening times. These may vary, as will entrance charges.
SNOWDONIA NATIONAL PARK
The Ffestiniog Railway runs from the sea at Porthmadog over 13 miles to Blaenau Ffestiniog, where hundreds of years of slate mining has radically altered the skyline. From here, on a clear day and after climbing some high ground, you will see the majestic sweep of the Snowdon mountain range with the vista of Cardigan Bay on either side.
As the train toils away from Porthmadog, the line winds upwards through Snowdonia National Park (National Trust) with views through the Vale of Ffestiniog towards civilization again at Blaenau Ffestiniog, and the famous Llechwedd Slate Caverns.
Trains run March to November and there is a fascinating museum at Porthmadog station with collections dating from the 1830s to the present day - from a tiny button to a full size locomotive.
N.B. Check for possible Foot and Mouth restrictions:You may not be allowed to alight at some of the stations on the line.
Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog, LL41 3NB Tel: 01766 830306
Other attractions in the vicinity of Porthmadog on Tremadog Bayinclude the award-winningLloyd George Memorial Museum and Highgate(his boyhood home) at Llanystumdwy, near Criccieth and Criccieth Castle with its striking 13th century twin-towered gatehouse on the headland.
Criccieth Castle Further information from Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments Tel: 01222 500200
Back at Porthmadog, the Porthmadog Maritime Museum on the harbour tells the story of the port in it's heyday as a major route for the export of slate in the 19th century.
From Porthmadog head South on the A496 for Barmouth, Barmouth Bay and the Cader Idris mountain range and around the Mawddach Estuary on the A496 for Dolgellau.
BARMOUTH AND DOLGELLAU
This is an area teeming with natural beauty with many outdoor attractions around Cardigan Bay. Don't forget to visit the beautiful Mawddach estuary, which is crossed by a very old wooden railway bridge carrying the Cambrian Coast line.
From Dolgellau head south on the A493 via Tywyn for Cardigan Bay and Machynlleth
Don't miss the fascinating Narrow Gauge Railway Museum for all kinds of locomotives, wagons and intriguing railway relics. Here you will find some of the oldest working steam locomotives in the world, and the Talyllyn Line itself is a charming experience, much smaller in scale than the Ffestiniong Railway. Both attractions are at Wharf Station (open Easter to October).
This is an ideal place from which to explore the Dyfi estuary and Mid-Walesgenerally, but do take time to visit a converted Wesleyan chapel in theheart of town, which has formed the cultural focus since 1986. YTabernacl or The Museum of Modern Art, Wales features changing exhibitions, arts festivals and events throughout the year.
Other interesting stops can be made at the following:
The Centre for Alternative Technology (one of Europe's best eco-centres complete with adventure playground and maze), Machynlleth SY20 9AZ Tel: 01654 702400
Experience the world of the Celts at Celtica: the history of Wales in sound and vision. Celtica,Y Plas, Machynlleth Tel: 01654 702702
From Machynlleth head south on the A487 for the end of the trail at Aberystwyth.
This attractive University town on the coast is home to several important institutions steeped in Welsh history: but it also reflects what life is like in Wales today.
The university runs theSchool of Art Gallery and Museum,which includes significant fine art, print and ceramic collections, with various exhibitions often featuring contemporary crafts.
The National Library of Wales houses such great treasures as the 12th century Black Book of Carmarthen - the oldest surviving Welsh manuscript. Here you will also find a busy year-round exhibitions programme, featuring both historic and more recent art in Wales.
Another arts venue not to be missed is the Aberystwyth Arts Centre, a multi-arts site with gallery space.
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Penglais, Aberystwyth SY23 3DE Tel: 01970 622882
The National Library of Wales, Penglais, Aberystwyth SY23 3BU Tel: 01970 632800
The Ceredigion Museum, situated in the original Edwardian Coliseum Theatre in the centre of town, displays varied collections relating to the history and events of the area.
Well done! You have successfully completed your journey. We hope that you will travel this route again and visit places you may have had to miss the first time as well as re-visiting your favourite venues.