With the majestic mountains of the Moelwynion dominating the landscape, and the dark blue-grey slate heaps a complete contrast between nature and industry - his corner of Snowdonia has its own special character...
Blaenau Ffestiniog - the city of slate!
Blaenau Ffestiniog (or just 'Blaenau' as it is known locally) is the main town of the Ffestiniog area. It is a relatively young town that developed as a result of the boom in the area's slate industry from the eighteenth century onwards. Blaenau Ffestiniog was, at one time, one of the largest slate centres in the world, and supplied roofing slate to the four corners of the earth.
When the National Park boundary was drawn up back in 1950, as the quarry and its slate heaps did not satisfy the criteria of exceptional scenic beauty, Blaenau Ffestiniog itself was omitted from the Park. Today, we are very proud of Blaenau Ffestiniog and its industry, and are keen to ensure the distinct culture of the town and area are celebrated and appreciated, and seen as an integral part of Snowdonia's special character.
How to get here?
Regular buses run between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog, Llandudno and Dolgellau, and the CLIPA Blaenau bus services the town itself. Regular trains run between Blaenau and Llandudno (via Llandudno Junction which links with the national rail network). For more information and for train and bus times go to www.traveline-cymru.info or phone 0871 200 22 33. Bus and train time tables can also be obtained at any local Tourist Information Centre and designated Tourist Information Points.
An historic area
Although Blaenau Ffestiniog is a relatively young town, another part of the parish, Llan Ffestiniog dates back some centuries. Llan Ffestiniog was a regular stop for the drovers on their eastward journey to the English markets, and they would quench their thirst in the village inn before carrying on with their journey over the moors.
There are some prehistoric remains in the area too - an old hillfort, Bryn y Castell which dates back to the Iron Age stands around 1½ miles to the north east from Llan Ffestiniog, and Tomen y Mur - an old Roman fort with many military remains stand around 2 miles south. Passing near both sites is the Roman road - Sarn Helen, which runs between Aberconwy in north Wales and Carmarthen in the south.
The locality of Ffestiniog (or 'Stiniog as it is known locally) is a fantastic area if you want to spend your time roaming the countryside - there's a good variety of paths offering fantastic views of the area. You can venture up to the summits of the Moelwynion or Manod mountains, through the otherworldly Cynfal gorge and its beautiful cascading waterfalls, or through the ancient oak woodlands of Dyffryn Maentwrog valley. Other walks can be found on the Blaenau Ffestiniog website.
The southern rock faces of Moelwynion are considered amongst the best rock climbs in Britain. The roughness of the rock is ideal in damp weather, and the rock dries quickly as they are south-facing.
If you enjoy fishing, you won't be short of choice in Ffestiniog! There are plenty of lakes and rivers in the area that are full of brown trout. Llyn Tanygrisiau lake is a good spot for rainbow trout and brown trout, and is accessible to people of all ability. For more information about fishing opportunities in the Ffestiniog locality go to www.cambrianangling.com.