A bustling harbour town of Porthmadog, in the crook of the elbow between the Cambrian Coast and Pen Llyn, would never have come about but for the enterprise of one man.
Tremadog, now just a picturesque adjunct to Porthmadog, was originally intended as the main town for the area. It was built by William Madocks in the mistaken belief that the ferry link to Ireland would go from Porth Dinllaen. Both towns were supposedly named after the Welsh Prince Madog, who some say, sailed from the nearby Ynys Fadog to America in 1170 – but the similarity between the names enabled Madocks to commemorate his own name whilst ostensibly remembering that of the exploring prince.
Porthmadog is rich in maritime history and offers visitors a number of craft shops and restaurants. The harbour opened in 1824 and became a busy slate harbour in 1836 when the Ffestiniog railway was built in across the Cob. At first the line was operated by gravity with horses travelling down on the train by truck to haul the empty wagons back until steam engines were introduced in 1863. Now a tourist attraction, the Ffestiniog Railway is one of the finest and oldest narrow gauge railways with the little engines chugging their way through the stunning scenery and making light of the steep gradients.