Our visit to the National Slate Museum in Wales was in October 2014. I had gone with school when I was in year 6, and I don’t think I’ve visited since then, but I could clearly remember the yard and train, so to say this place made a lasting impression is quite true – cough 25 cough years later I was thrilled to go back to see what had changed or stayed the same about this place deep in the heart of Snowdonia.
The scenery on the way to the museum is stunning – tall, imposing hills and sheep dotted about a grey and green landscape. The odd little abandoned slate and stone house are here and there, and the views are so spectacular you begin to wonder if you could live off the grid and set up in one of the cottages. The rumbling of the coaches travelling through Snowdonia would put me off – the road is a very busy one, for all it is quite narrow and twisty-twiney.
So, eventually we arrived and parked in the car park next to the entrance. There are public toilets in the car park, and it’s pay and display, though I don’t recall how much it is but seem to remember a day rate was quite reasonable. The museum itself is free.
The museum has trains outside, and the carpark is right next to the station where you can jump on a steam train, so this is a brilliant space to base yourself for a lovely day out with a toddler!
Inside, there is a courtyard with rooms all around, and cranes and rail trucks to have a look at spread about. It is exactly as I remembered it – I could even recall some of the conversations I had with school friends next to the crane!
In the rooms there are various displays, multimedia exhibits and also staff-led talks about various activities that used to go on here. Sadly we missed the talk twice – so do be there on time if you want to see some of the skills and methods for getting the slate out.
We wandered around the sheds, looking at the train and other machinery.
The waterwheel is quite imposing – you can go right next to it and all that water rushing about it quite loud. There is a lift to take you to the top of the wheel.
We noticed the play area that is adjacent to the outdoor seating of the café, but didn’t go in because we’d decided to go on the train when we’d finished looking all around the Slate Museum. The Llanberis Lake Train is not cheap – nearly £16 for two adults (James was free) but it is a lovely scenic route through some of Wales’ best landscapes.
The train takes you along five miles of track, through the forest and past lakes, until it stops at a station. I think in high season you can buy a cuppa, and probably ice creams, at the station, but although it was busy and the weather lovely, the little shop was closed, so we had a wander around the grassy area next to the lake. Overhead there were fighter jets whooshing about. The train waited at that station for quite a while before we all jumped back inside the carriages and we set off back again.
We all enjoyed our day out at the National Slate Museum in Wales. We’d love to go back to the area, but next time we’d go on the train up Snowdon, which is something I’ve never done, because I’ve walked up the few times I’ve been there.