There’s a new series on S4C at the moment called Cynefin. It’s a series which focuses on various areas in Wales and gives insights to that area. The first episode was about my hometown of Blaenau Ffestiniog. I watched it a few days ago and it was fascinating. I must admit I got a little bit emotional. It made me realise how much I miss my home. Anyhow, today I’m going to focus on some of the best things about Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Blaenau Ffestiniog is huddled in the Moelwyn mountains and oh the views are stunning. No finer place in the world. When the weather is nice it’s absolutely beautiful. Even when the weather is a bit moody it’s still wonderful. Also depending on where you are, you can see down towards Porthmadog, over towards Trawsfynydd, down towards Dolwyddelan, down Cwm Croesor.
It’s an old slate mining town. At one time, the slate mines in Wales supplied slate for the world! Sadly those times have come to an end. Although there is still one working mine in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The Cynefin programme featured the Cwt Y Bugail mine and how they mine the slate there still. Not only that, the caverns at Cwt Y Bugail were used to house some of the nation’s most prized artwork (including some Michelangelo paintings) during the Blitz. It is well known about the artwork, but what the Cynefin programme also mentioned is that it is rumoured that some of the crown jewels were housed there as well.
Some of the old slate mines have been put to good to use including converting the old caverns in Llechwedd into an underground trampoline playground.
OK this really couples in with the first point but there are so many walks in and around Blaenau Ffestiniog. One of my absolute favourites is walking to Cwm Orthin. Take in the views of the old slate mines and the lake. There’s something eerie about the place but it’s an amazing walk.
If you’re looking for something a bit more leisurely, then you can take a stroll along the Tanygrisiau reservoir dam.
The Ffestiniog railway runs from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The original line has been there from the mining days – slate trucks would be carted down from the quarries and down the line to Porthmadog docks for shipping to the world.
These days the railway is a heritage railway ferrying tourists from Porthmadog to Blaenau. It runs right past the back of my childhood home. I love the smell of the steam trains.
(Image courtesy of Dave Newbould of the Love Snowdonia Facebook group – join for more amazing photos of Snowdonia!)
The town is well known for being one of the wettest places in Wales. It feels like it rains in Blaenau everyday! Whilst that isn’t quite accurate, it would appear that it rains approximately 2/3 of the year! For this reason, the town has a reputation for being dull and grey – especially when considering the rain and the slate. But, when we get a sunny day in Blaenau, it is beautiful! Just look at the above photo – how can you say that isn’t beautiful!