Take a trip back into the Victorian era at Llechwedd mines amid the wild hills of Snowdonia, where quality slate has been produced since 1836. Now part museum, part activity center and part working quarry, Llechwedd’s original Victorian mine is open for guided tours; the UK’s steepest cable railway leads 656 ft (200 m) underground to a subterranean world of lakes and vast chambers accessed through tunnels carved out by hand. Temperatures underground are at a constant and cool 12°C, so dress warmly as tours last an hour.
Back on the surface, a mock-Victorian village is manned by costumed characters who run a traditional tavern, blacksmith and retro souvenir store. There are regular demonstrations of slate splitting, a skill still executed by hand as it was in the mid-19th century. The workshop is found in the former Victorian quarry offices, where skilled craftsmen fashion slate address signs and placemats to sell as typically Welsh keepsakes. Youngsters can try their hands at decorating slate or bounce around in the world’s only subterranean playground, and outdoor activities at Llechwedd include zip lining and extreme cycling down sheer mountain tracks – the latter suitable for expert bikers only.
A470, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd LL41 3NB. Open daily 9am–5.30pm. Tour tickets adults £15.45, seniors and students 13.45, children aged 3–15 £9.95. Ten per cent discount for family tickets. Visitors staying around Porthmadog can take the scenic Ffestiniog Railway to Llechwedd.