The leg from Bethesda to Llanberis takes you through the heart of the slate industry. After following the Afon Ogwen for a short while, the Trail climbs out of the Ogwen Valley to Mynydd Llandegai by riverside paths and minor roads. After crossing the wild moor of Gwaun Gynfi, good paths lead to Parc Padarn, the National Slate Museum of Wales and Llanberis.
Leave the High Street next to Londis, and follow the Afon Ogwen for a short while before starting the climb out of the valley along a woodland path and minor road to Mynydd Llandegai.
After walking along Gefnan lane, take to the open moors, initially on a good track, but which comes increasingly indistinct and, in places, wet, before following good field paths, minor roads and lanes into the woodland of Parc Padarn.
Follow the way marked route to the National Slate Museum of Wales, passing the recently restored Dinorwig Quarry Hospital, and crossing the Padarn Railway. Once you have looked around this very interesting museum, take the lakeside walk into Llanberis.
An overview of the section by Vicky Anne Jones
Along the way
Felin Fawr’s earliest building dates to 1803. The first building was the Western Slab Mill. Later buildings were added that included the Second Slab Mill opening in c.1830, a foundry, engineering facilities, a quarry railway and several slate mills.
Felin Fawr is currently owned by Felin Fawr Cyf with most of the buildings being rented out to a diverse range of local companies.
Penrhyn Quarry Railway Society
The Penrhyn Quarry Railway dates back to 1801 when Lord Penrhynlinked his slate quarries at Bethesda with Port Penrhyn.
The railway consisted of four levels divided by inclines and was operated by horses working between the inclines pulling up to around twenty rustic wagons laden with slate.
In the 1870’s competition from other quarries prompted action and the route was improved to avoid inclines.
A trio of DeWinton mainline locomotives were ordered in 1876, rather strange rare machines but of a conventional locomotive design featuring horizontal rather than their trademark vertical boilers, built in Caernarfon.
The DeWintons proved inadequate so Hunslet of Leeds were commissioned to design a new Penrhyn mainline locomotive. Charles of 1882 proved so successful that Penrhyn Quarries placed an order for a further two mainline locomotives with Blanche and Linda arriving in 1893.
The Penrhyn Quarry Railway officially closed to traffic on 24th July 1962. The railway track between was donated to the Ffestiniog Railway and was lifted in 1965. In 2004, an organisation was formed to restore part of the railway and the original slate works at Felin Fawr, Coed-y-Parc, near Bethesda. About approximately one mile of the original trackbed was acquired.
The village is distinguished by parallel rows of semi-detached quarrymen’s cottages constructed during the 19th century for workers of Penrhyn Quarry, each provided with approximately 1 acre of land to feed the family.
It was originally named Douglas Hill, but the name changed to Mynydd Llandegai in the 1930s after the inhabitants decided that they did not want to associate with the name Douglas, namely part of the Penrhyn family surname.
Padarn Country Park covers 800 acres including Coed Dinorwig, an ancient Sessile Oak woodland and Vivian Quarry. Both Llyn Padarn and Coed Dinorwig are Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Llyn Padarn is up to 30m (100ft) deep and is the sixth deepest lake in Wales. It is one of only three remaining natural localities in Wales to support the rare alpine fish, Arctic Char, a living relic of the lakes glacial origins..
Attractions within Park also include the old Quarry Hospital Museum, the Welsh Slate Museum, a number of lakeside picnic areas and various crafts and adventure activities.
Nearby is Dolbadarn Castle, one of the few Welsh fortresses.
National Slate Museum of Wales
The National Slate Museum is sited in the Victorian workshops of the vast Dinorwig quarry.
Here you can travel into the past of an industry and a way of life that has chiselled itself into the very being of this country.
The Workshops and Buildings are designed as though quarrymen and engineers have just put down their tools and left the courtyard for home, while an array of talks and demonstrations including slate-splitting give you a real insight into quarry life.
Dinorwig Quarry Hospital
Built in 1860, the hospital was largely maintained by the quarrymen’s contributions. It was one of the first buildings in the area to have hot and cold running water and electricity. General surgery continued here until the 1940’s and hospital had one of the earliest x-ray machines in North Wales. In the Post Mortem room, the slab is made from polished slate. Admission is free. http://www.penmorfa.com/Slate/Dinorwic%20Quarry%20Hospital.html
The Padarn Railway has the unusual gauge (width between the rails) of 4 ft (1,219 mm) and carried slate the seven miles (11 km) from Dinorwig Quarry to Port Dinorwic The line replaced the previous Dinorwic Railway from 3 March 1843, which initially used horses, converting to steam haulage on 23 November 1848.
The Padarn Railway is now a tourist railway, and small steam engines travel the five-mile return journey alongside Lake Padarn, the 13th century Dolbadarn Castle, across possibly Britain’s shortest river and past Llanberis’ twin lakes. From Llanberis the train runs non-stop through the Padarn Country Park, joining the 1845 slate railway route to run along the shores of Lake Padarn to Penllyn, and giving stunning views of Snowdon, the highest peak in England and Wales.
Electric Mountain is one of the modern industrial wonders of Wales, if not the World. This massive hydroelectric power station is built inside the mountain amidst miles of tunnels carrying roads and water. The main turbine and generator chamber is said to be the largest underground chamber ever excavated. A bus tour of the power station starts from the ‘Dragon in the Mountain’ exhibition in Llanberis.Unfortunately, the attraction is closed for the present.
Pete’s Eats, Llanberis