This area of North Wales is a paradise for Steam Railway enthusiasts, or just those who like a good ride on a traditional steam train!
The Talyllyn Railway's Dolgoch Falls station is just a couple of minutes walk from our garden gate, and from there you can catch a train east to Nant Gwernol, or west down to Tywyn. The Talyllyn was the first railway to be taken over and saved by volunteers, and boasts continuous operation for over 150 years. The railway runs a regular passenger service along its seven and a quarter miles of track, from the coast into the hills.
The railway still owns and operates its two original steam locomotives and its original carriages, and regularly runs trains comprising only the original Victorian rolling stock - and even when one of the newer locomotives pulls the train, all its regular service trains are steam hauled (subject only to rare unexpected issues).
For details, fares and timetables see www.talyllyn.co.uk.
Corris is a much smaller railway with about a mile of track, again built to serve the local slate industry. Whilst the trip is much shorter, at the far end you are greeted by volunteers who will tell you about the history of the railway and show you around their workshops whilst explaining the expansion plans they have. See www.corris.co.uk for more details.
The Fairbourne railway runs from the town of Fairbourne to the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary where it connects with the Barmouth ferry, giving you an alternative route to this seaside town which doesn't involve a longish trip inland! There is even the possibility of using the mainline train to complete a circuit back to Fairbourne if the steam railway timetable doesn't work out for you. See www.fairbournerailway.com for timetables and more information.
Further afield is the Ffestiniog railway, with its double headed Fairlie locos, running from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog (about an hour's drive to either end), where it meets the Welsh Highland Railway (details of both these can be found at www.festrail.co.uk).
Porthmadog is also home to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway. A 90 minute drive also takes you to the Llanberis Lake railway (www.lake-railway.co.uk) at the foot of Snowdon itself, and of course the iconic Snowdon Mountain Railway (www.snowdonrailway.co.uk).
In the other direction (towards Aberystwyth) is the Vale of Rheidol Railway (www.rheidolrailway.co.uk), and depending on your route to or from the cottage you may pass close to the Bala Lake Railway (bala-lake-railway.co.uk) or the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway (www.wllr.org.uk).
Although they share much in terms of history, each of these railways offers a unique experience, showcasing different landscapes as well as a variety of locomotives and rolling stock. To find out more you can visit the individual railways, or see the Great Little Trains of Wales.