Welcome to Porthmadog
The small Welsh town of Porthmadog exists because a man built a wall in 1811. It was a very important wall though, as it was a sea wall, which allowed the creation of a harbour from which the slate, mined from nearby quarries, could be exported all over the world. The famous "Cob" was built, allowing a railway to run between the newly claimed agricultural land the sea. The railway served the demand from English architects and builders for slate.
Named after William Maddocks, who built the Cob and so created rich agricultural land, Porthmadog is now home to around 4000 people. The single biggest employer in the town now is the Ffestiniog and West Highland Railway, which is also a catalyst for a tourism, the main source of income.
The town sits at the edge of Snowdonia and the view from the Cob of constantly changing light and colour as the weather flirts with the mountains is spectacular. Porthmadog largely consists of one main street, filled with shops, cafes and churches. The harbour lies just behind the Ffestiniog Railway station.
The town is surrounded by wonderful hills and mountains and it's worth walking up the hill at the far end of the harbour for a view back into the town and across to Snowdonia.
There are plenty of pleasant spots for a drink, such as the The Big Rock Cafe, which serves homemade cooked food using local produce and offers free wifi, and Cadwalladers Coffee House which has a lovely choice of ice-cream.
There are several good charity shops along the high street,and Huw Williams Antiques is tucked away down a little lane opposite the Edinburgh Woollen Mill. There's often a very eclectic mix of items for sale. Cob Records, opposite the railway station, is famed for its stock of second-hand CDs and vinyl and many a man has parked himself here for several hours.
Browsers Bookshop, about half-way down the main street, is a delightful independent shop with a section at the back selling artists materials, should you be suitably inspired by the surrounding magnificence.
If you're not in the mood to draw or paint your own work then you could visit the Rob Piercy Art Gallery on Snowdon Street, just off High Street . He's lived and worked in the town for most of his life and sells prints and original artwork of the local landscape. The best chippy in Porthamdog, Allports, is further down this street too.
There's a few restaurants in the town with one of the most popular being the Thai Harbwr, which is located in the Madoc Yacht Club behind the harbour. The Royal Sportsman at the far end of the high street has 2 AA Rosettes for its cooking.
Welsh is widely spoken in the area and you'll often hear it as the first language amongst the local population. Listen out to hear English phrases such as "mushy peas" translated into Welsh. "Dim" means "no".
There's plenty of free on-street parking and several car-parks. The town isn't big, so it's easy to walk around. If you're staying in a local self-catering residence, there's a large Tesco at the far end of the town.