376km (233 miles) W of London; 11km (7 miles) SE of Caernarfon
The starting point for going up Snowdon by mountain railway, Llanberis nestles between Lake Padarn and Lake Peris. Views of outstanding beauty greet your eyes, both man-made sights and natural wonders.
The Snowdon Mountain Railway runs from Llanberis to within a few yards of the top of the Snowdon peak at about 1,085m (3,560 ft.). The only rack-and-pinion train in Britain, it is also the steepest train ride, and the view from the top platform, where the train stops, is one of the most panoramic in the country. It's possible to see some 160km (100 miles) away into Ireland, especially the peaks of the Wicklow Mountain chain, on the clearest and brightest of days. Another "great little train" in the region is the Llanberis Lake Railway, which takes you along Lake Padarn. The purpose of the trains in this area and in the Vale of Ffestiniog to the south was to bring the "gray gold" from slate caverns for shipping all over the world. For information and schedules, call tel. 0871/7200033 or visit www.snowdonrailway.co.uk. Note: If you book by phone at least a day in advance for a 9am departure, ticket prices are cut in half. Trains run to the summit between May and October, costing £23 for adults round-trip and £16 for children 14 and younger.
Padarn Country Park (tel. 01286/870892; www.gwynedd.gov.uk), open daily until dusk, has marked footpaths that will take you past the Vivian Quarry, with its dramatic slate cliffs and deep pools, through galleries where slate was worked, and to lookouts from which the Snowdon range and the lakes can be viewed. The entrance to these 283 hectares (700 acres) of countryside is signposted from High Street and begins .8km (a half mile) north of the town center.
Craft workshops and a woodcraft center are open at the park, where you can watch artisans work in clay, copper, slate, and wood. One workman specializes in Celtic folk harps, including miniature models and do-it-yourself kits.
Dolbadarn Castle ruins overlook Lake (Llyn) Padarn in the Llanberis pass, .8km (a half mile) east of Llanberis, a relic of the time when the pass was used by the conquering armies. It is notable for its location and a mortared masonry tower that still stands. You can take a look around the meager ruins for free.