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Wales has a very varied landscape of mountains and coast, and a long history of industry and tourism. Due to these factors, Wales has some unusual forms of transport. In Aberystwyth, a cliff railway takes visitors to the summit of Constitution Hill. This railway was built when the town developed as a holiday resort during Victorian times.
Another coastal town which developed during Victorian times is Llandudno. A tramway was built to take visitors to the upper slopes of the Great Orme headland. The trams are pulled up the hill by cables which run below the road, in a similar way to the cable cars of San Francisco.
Some of the most attractive features of Cardiff are its rivers and bay. Boat trips around the bay allow visitors to see the historic docks and the more recent Welsh Parliament buildings. Regular ferries run from the bay up the River Taff to the city centre. There is a landing-stage close to Cardiff Castle and the Millennium Stadium.
The Llangollen canal was built during the period of enormous canal development in the late 18th century. It takes its water from the River Dee, and runs along the side of the valley from Llangollen to reach the huge Pontcysyllte aquaduct, then continues to cross the border into England. Originally the canal narrow boats carried heavy cargoes such as coal and limestone. At the present day, trips from Llangollen are provided by horse drawn narrowboat.
Bardsey island is situated beyond the end of the Llŷn peninsula. For centuries its monastery was a destination for pilgrims. It is now a nature reserve, with sea birds nesting on its remote cliffs. Visitors can travel to the island by ferry, which is launched from a beach near the village of Aberdaron.
The village of Fairbourne was built in Victorian times behind a gravel embankment and sand dunes at the mouth of the Mawddach estuary. A system of horse drawn tramways was used to carry materials to the building site. Part of the tramway survived, and is now a narrow gauge railway taking visitors from Fairbourne to the ferry which crosses the estuary to Barmouth.
The most spectacular railway in Wales runs from Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon. The locomotives use a cog system, connecting with metal teeth along the centre of the track. The railway opened in 1896. Unfortunately on the first day of operation a train ran out of control and fell down the mountainside, killing one passenger. Following this accident, the design of the track was changed and the trains were reduced in size to only a single carriage.
Perhaps the most unusual bridge in Wales is the Newport transporter bridge. A gondola carries vehicles across the river. This hangs from a railway carriage which runs on a track along the high level girders. The bridge opened in 1902, and allowed ships with high masts to travel up the river without any obstruction. The bridge has recently been closed for major maintenance, but is due to reopen in 2024.
A number of old industrial sites in Wales have been opened to the public, and allow visitors to see for themselves how the industries operated. In Blaenau Ffestiniog, the Llechwedd slate quarry runs tours by train into the underground chambers where slate was mined.
At Blaenafon in south Wales, the Big Pit colliery was preserved as a museum when coal mining ended. Visitors are equipped with a helmet and lamp, and can descend the shaft to the underground workings. The cages in the shaft are operated by the original winding engine. Former miners then take visitors on a tour of the mine, visiting the rock face where coal was cut.
In recent years, Wales has become popular for adventure holidays. Many exciting activities are provided. At the old slate quarries in Blaenau Ffestiniog and Bethesda, thrill seekers can travel for more than a mile along a fast zip wire.
In Blaenau Ffestiniog, adventurers can hire a mountain bike and are taken to the top of the hill by minibus. They can they enjoy an exciting descent along the steep tracks back down to the valley floor.