Porthmadog

A busy harbour town with a good range of shops and attractions, including nearby Portmeirion. You can’t keep narrow-gauge railway enthusiasts away. Porthmadog is a major hub, with no less than three lines – the Ffestiniog (running to Blaenau Ffestiniog), the Welsh Highland Railway (running all the way to Caernarfon) and the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway (with its excellent hands-on railway museum). Actually, there are four, for the Welsh Highland Heritage also has a tiny miniature line which uses coal from its bigger brother broken down into smaller lumps!

Trains were not the only mode of transport in Porthmadog’s history as an important hub based on the slate industry. The town’s Maritime Museum tells the story of the town’s rapid 19th-century growth into a thriving slate exporting and shipbuilding port for handsome three-masted schooners known as Western Ocean Yachts. Porthmadog’s best-loved landmark is The Cob, a mile-long embankment across the estuary that shaped the destiny of the town. Porthmadog is a good base for walkers and cyclists – follow the Wales Coast Path and Lôn Ardudwy bike route.