Coed y Bleiddiau

Near Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd

Overview

Set at the heart of breathtaking scenery in the Snowdonia National Park, Coed y Bleiddiau is a small railway cottage at a remote private halt on the restored Ffestiniog Railway. It was built in 1863 for the railway Superintendent, T. Henry Hovenden. If you time it right, you might even be able to arrive here by steam train.

  • CotCot
Sleeps
4
4 nights from
£364 equivalent to £22.75 per person, per night

A wild and beautiful setting

The name Coed y Bleiddiau means 'Wood of the Wolves', and it’s said the last wolf in Wales was killed on the heavily wooded slopes that surround the cottage. The walking and birdwatching are superb.

A horse tramway was laid between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog in the 1830s, transport for the Welsh slate industry. In the early 1860s, it was upgraded for steam locomotives, and in the winter of 1863/4, this cottage was built as an intermediate stop, today a few miles up from Tan y Bwlch station. It has its own private platform, where you can alight from a steam train if you time your arrival to today’s timetable. (There is also car access within at least a 20 minute walk over an unmade footpath).

One of the most scenic railways in Britain

Engineering marries Snowdonia’s sublime landscape as the railway line snakes discreetly through glorious landscapes. The Ffestiniog Railway fell out of use during World War 2 but was triumphantly restored by volunteers and enthusiasts. Its sister line, the Welsh Highland Railway, extends the line from Porthmadog to Caernarfon, a thrilling day out by steam.

A cosy cottage

Built of local slate and granite, Coed y Bleiddiau hunkers low into the mountain slope with woodland all around it. Its low eaves and thick walls were built for snugness, today just as when Mr Hovenden lived here with his wife and seven children. Later, this humble cottage was used as a holiday home by the renowned composer Sir Granville Bantock, and later still by the Arabist Harry St. John ‘Jack’  Philby. 

Floor Plan

Map & local info

Coed y Bleiddiau sits on the Ffestiniog Railway, which runs from the harbour in Porthmadog to the slate-quarrying town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Change at Porthmadog to experience the Welsh Highland Railway, the UK's longest heritage railway that passes through the stunning Aberglaslyn Pass on the way to Caernarfon. You can view timetables, book tickets and learn more about the railway by visiting the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway website.

There are plenty of walking routes nearby if you would prefer to travel on foot. The Landmark is perfectly positioned to explore 30km of footpaths on the Dyffryn Maentwrog/Llyn Mair footpath network, including the beautiful artificial lake of Llyn Mair - look out for nightjars, goshawks or even ospreys. Click here to download a map of the footpath network from the Woodland Trust. The Ffestiniog Railway Heritage Group have a great collection of walks around the railways on their Festpedia page.

Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    No.
  • How is the property accessed?

    The property can be accessed by railway or via a rough sheep track about 500 metres from the property. For more information about accessing the property please click the 'Access' tab.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    The nearest mainline station is Penrhyndeudraeth (5 miles). The nearest heritage line station is Tan y Bwlch (1 mile).
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes. You can park approximately 500 metres from the property then complete the journey on foot. If you are arriving at the property via train, you can park for free at Tan-y-Bwlch station.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    Heating is by Rointe electric panel heaters. There is a multi fuel stove in the sitting room.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    We are currently assessing the best way for guests to get fuel.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates and cutlery. There is a fridge with an ice box, a sink, storage shelves, a table and stools. There is also an electric cooker.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom containing a bath with a shower overheard, a toilet and a wash hand basin.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    There are steepish stairs.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    Yes.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • What time can I arrive and what time do I have to depart from the Landmark?

    Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there toilet rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

Do you have other questions?

Our Booking Office can help with information about each building.
History

Built in 1863 for railway Superintendent T. Henry Hovenden

As the Welsh slate industry took off in the early 19th century, a narrow gauge track was laid between 1833 and 1836 to carry slate in wagons from the quarries around Ffestiniog 21.7 km to the coast at Porthmadog. Gravity (managed by brakesmen) took the wagons downslope; they were hauled back up by horses.

By the late 1850s this line was reaching its operational capacity, with output from the Ffestiniog slate quarries still rising. In 1860, an Act was passed to upgrade the line for steam locomotives. The line of the track (still narrow gauge in this challenging terrain) was also gently modified where necessary, including realignment at the Coed y Bleiddiau stretch. The first official train ran on 23 October 1863, and in 1865, the Ffestiniog became the first narrow gauge railway in Britain also to carry passengers.

With its own small, 22ft long platform, Coed y Bleiddiau was built as an intermediate request halt between the stations of Hafod y Llyn (replaced in 1873 by Tan y Bwlch) and Dduallt. At the railway’s peak, nine trains a day puffed merrily past. 

The cottage originally had just three ground floor rooms, with a single first floor bedroom at the rear, for Superintendent T. Henry Hovenden. He would have two wives and seven children, and the Hovenden family lived here for many years, but by 1913 the railway no longer needed this intermediate stop.

Coed y Bleiddiau was then let as a holiday home, and here the associations of this humble cottage become more glamourous. From 1922 until 1935, it was rented by composer Granville Bantock, a leading figure in early 20th-century British music. Bantock was conductor of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and moved easily through the international worlds of the arts and classical music, counting as his friends Edward Elgar, Richard Strauss, Thomas Beecham and Sir Henry Wood, founder of the Proms.

Bantock was knighted in 1930. He enjoyed many family holidays at Coed y Bleiddiau with his family and friends. Their daughter Myhrra wrote that ‘No one who stayed at Coed y Bleiddiau was anything but happy there. The lovely mountains all round, the feeling of peace and of being completely cut off from the civilised world was peaceful to the spirit.’

From 1930, Bantock’s friend Harry St John ‘Jack’ Philby became a visitor to the cottage, taking it over in 1835 and keeping his lease until 1948. Philby was a leading authority on, and sympathiser with, the Arab world, who might not, some felt, be relied upon to put his own country’s interests first. In 1939 he stood as parliamentary candidate for both for the Labour Party and the British People’s Party founded by Oswald Moseley.

In 1951 Bob and Babs Johnson took up the lease. Still remembered by many, they were a popular couple on the line, who tended a well-kept flower garden in front of the cottage. The Johnsons lived at the cottage until 2006, until finally their advancing years made this no longer practical.

Meanwhile, from 1955 the Ffestiniog Railway Trust was heroically reviving and then operating the railway line. This continues to absorb all their resources and Coed y Bleiddiau became a sad eyesore, too remote to justify repair for permanent occupation. They approached Landmark for help, and we have taken a long lease on the cottage, to allow anyone who choose to experience the magic of the place, and of occasional steam engines passing right by the front door.

For a short history of Coed y Bleiddiau please click here.

To read the full history album for Coed y Bleiddiau please click here.

Restoration

A logistically difficult project

Even though it had been lived in until 2006, the cottage was severely dilapidated when we agreed to take it on in 2013. Since then, it has been completely repaired and refurbished. The roof was repaired first thanks to an unsolicited donation, and once we had met our overall funding target, work began in earnest in 2016.

First all rotten woodwork, plaster and ceilings was stripped out carefully, retaining all we could of the original fabric. New slate floor slabs were fitted through the ground floor, and wooden floorboards on the first floor replaced where necessary. We discovered that the cottage’s small rear extension was put on very soon after its first construction – perhaps due to Mr Hovenden’s growing family.

Although the building is tiny and its construction fairly simple, its isolated location made the project difficult logistically, even with sterling help from the Ffestiniog Railway. Delivery of materials took three days; a day to load up, a day to transport down the line, (sometimes in the old hand operated trolleys), and a day to unload.

The building was completed rewired and new services installed (including a septic tank) before re-plastering, putting in a new bathroom and kitchen and rebuilding the chimney stack. Sash windows and the tiny, rickety porch were dismantled and taken to our furniture store to be re-made. Externally, the joinery has been re-painted in brown and cream, traditional livery of the Ffestiniog line for its intermediate stops (the stations are painted maroon).

Two exciting discoveries were made: the first, an old railway mile post from the days of the horse tramway had been used as a lintel for the bathroom window. This is only the fourth such post to be found, and has been returned to the railway. And scratched into a window pane in curly script was the name ‘Hovenden.’ We can only speculate whether this was engraved by the Superintendent or by one of his mischievous children.

Supporters of Coed y Bleiddiau

We are hugely grateful to the 2152 donors who supported Coed y Bleiddiau, including:

Guardians: 
Mr R Broyd OBE, three further anonymous Guardians

Patrons and other generous individuals: 
Mr A Baker and Ms S Darling, Mr M Bennett, Mr H Channon, Mr and Mrs J Gibbs, Mr D Giles, Mr R Gurd, Mrs M Haddow, Mr G Kingston, Mr A Manisty, Mr A Murray-Jones, Dr H Parry-Smith, Mr M Power, Mr J Sharman, Mr P Skuse, Mrs M Williams

Charitable Trusts and Statutory Grants: 
The Nerquis Hall Fund, John R Murray Charitable Trust, The Mrs FB Laurence Charitable Trust

Legacies:
Mrs Kay Mills-Hicks, Miss Mary Alice East

We are also grateful to the generous Guardians, Patrons and other supporters who have chosen to remain anonymous and to everybody else who supported the appeal.

Access

Accessing the property from the end of March to the beginning of November

You can arrive at Coed y Bleiddiau via train on the Ffestiniog Railway between the end of March and the beginning of November. We suggest parking at Tan-y-Bwlch railway station (postcode: LL41 4AQ), where there is a small car park with free parking. You can also park at Porthmadog, Minffordd and Blaenau Ffestiniog, but you will need to pay for parking.

View the train timetable

Accessing the property out of season or via car

The Ffestiniog Railway is only open between the end of March and the beginning of November. If arriving out of season or if you do not wish to arrive by train you can drive and park to within 500 metres of the property. You will then need to walk along a rough open ground sheep track to reach the property.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day and why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.