Snowdonia

Snowdonia. Image : snowdoniamountainguides.com

Snowdonia National Park in North West Wales is a beautiful wild and rugged location. Carved by glaciers 20000 years ago it has v-shaped Valleys cut steep and wide by the retreating ice, beautiful Valleys such as  the LLanberis pass,Conwy Valley, Ogwen Valley and Nantlle Valley. Each of these is a spectacle in itself and has its own mountain ranges that surround. Snowdonia in North Wales its famed for its walking and hiking. There are more than 14 Peaks over 1000m in height.  Snowdon is the highest mountain in England and Wales. Snowdonia is the only mountain in the UK that has a railway steam train that takes visitors to the summit where there is a wonderful open-plan visitor centre with panoramic views over Anglesey and beyond. From the summit of Snowdon on a clear day you can see the mountains of Mourne in Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland. You can also see across into England. It’s a fantastic day’s walk and there are many different walking paths and hiking paths up to the summit of Snowdon (see our previous blogs on this). Snowdonia, however is not just famous for its walking and hiking, it is also famous for its adventure. Snowdonia has become the centre for adventure in Europe and it was crowned  The adventure capital of Europe just a couple of years ago. It boasts fantastic outdoor activities such as climbing, paddle boarding, surfing, zip wiring, cycling, mountain biking, hiking, winter climbing, fell running, motorbiking paragliding, sailing and many other outdoor sports besides.

There are many flagship outdoor centres that have opened up in the area in and around Snowdonia. Providers like Zip world, Surf Snowdonia, Plas y brenin, Plas Menai,  Rib ride, One planet adventure, Beacon Climbing Centre, the Indefatigable Climbing Centre, white water rafting centres and many more. Zip world within Snowdonia have been expanding dramatically in the past five years, opening a further five centres including underground trampolines at their flagship centre, Bounce below, a Zip World Forest roller coaster centre, a Treetops Adventure centre, two of the most amazing zip lines in the world, both velocity and Titan and also the slate caverns adventure tours.  Surf Snowdonia which began their fantastic beginnings as a inland surf centre Lagoon in the Conwy Valley have now also expanded to include Zip line’s indoor climbing centres and activities Park. With more and more activity centres and providers sprouting up, you will never be short of anything to do here on your stay.

There are some very beautiful and quaint towns throughout Snowdonia to visit on your stay, towns such as Beddgelert,  Betws-y-Coed, Portmeirion, Llanberis, Bethesda, and Llangollen famous for its Eisteddfod an hour’s drive East of North Wales. Each one has its own charm, character and beautiful surroundings.  

 

Geography

Snowdonia is an important location for conservation of habitat and wildlife in the region, as approximately 20% of its total area is protected by UK and European laws. Snowdonia is located on the western coast of Britain and covering an area of 823 sq. miles. Snowdonia houses the highest mountain peak in England and Wales and the largest natural lake in Wales. Bethesda near Snowdonia is the wettest area in the entire UK, with an average rainfall of 4,473 mm for the last 30 years. So with all that rain comes a healthy lush green landscape that echoes life and vibrancy in the valley.

History

Image : WalesOnline.com

Snowdonia is renowned for its rich history. It is full of prehistoric sites like Tre’rCeiri also known as the Town of Giants. It is a significant Iron Age monument that is prominent in the Llyn Peninsula and is located on the slopes of Yr Eifl, 400 feet above the Irish Sea. Snodownia was under the Roman Empire and after they left there were other invaders. Snowdonia was invaded by the Romans who were able to eventually overpower the Celtic tribes and took control of the land. It was invaded by the Vikings, Anglo Saxons, and later by the Normans. Each of these invaders left their mark on the history and society of Snowdonia over time. The Princes of Gwynedd built many castles to protect their lands from invaders and also from each other. Edward-I built the mighty ring of castles in North Wales. The Caernarfon Castle is located on the banks of river Seiont and the Menai Strait, and is a World Heritage Site.

As Christianity started to spread its roots, many churches and monasteries were established in Snowdonia. Bangor Cathedral is one of the oldest cathedrals near Snowdonia and can be traced back to the Celtic times. Beuno Church, another popular monument in Snowdonia is also believed to have been built during the Celtic times and it was an important resting place for pilgrims travelling to Bardsey Island.

Snowdon 

Image : snowdonia.gov.uk

Snowdon Mountain is the highest point in England and Wales standing tall at 1085 meters. It is the busiest mountain in the UK and third most visited attraction in Wales. The Snowdon Mountain is a popular tourist attraction and active outdoor spot for  for rock climbing. There are different ascent routes to the summit of Snowdon Mountain with the Llanberis path being the gentlest of them with the shallowest gradient. It is also the longest path-14km long- to the summit. The view from the summit of Snowdon Mountain is mesmerizing. You get some of the best views of the British Isles and on clear days of Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. You can also view the 24 counties, 29 lakes, and 17 islands from the summit on a clear day.

Snowdon Mountain Railway

Image : Tripadvisor

The Snowdon Mountain Railway is a narrow-gauge mountain railway. The train departs from Llanberis station and goes all the way to the top of the mountain- Yr Wyddfa- which is 1085 meters high. This train route was officially opened on 6thApril 1896 and since then more than 12 million people have enjoyed its ride. You start your journey from Llanberis and experience the Ceunant Mawr waterfall which falls beautifully into the gorge below. You pass through the Waterfall station and get the first view of the Summit of Snowdon. The train stops at the Halfway station for refilling its water tanks before beginning its final ascent. You can see the black volcanic rock face of Clogwyn du’r Arddu in the distance. You pass the beautiful and lush green valleys as the train approaches the Rocky Valley station. The views of the Llyn Peninsula become visible in the distance as the train continues its journey to the top. During early spring season when ice and snow prevent the train to go further, the train stops at Clogwyn station. Once you pass through  Clogwyn station, you finally arrive at the summit of Snowdon. Hafod Eryri is the highest visitor center in the UK and provides you with breathtaking panoramic views of the surroundings. The Snowdon train ride and the view from the summit is a lifetime memory and experience for visitors.

Slate Mountains

Image : Snowdoniapass.co.uk

Snowdonia is blessed to have some of the highest quality slate mines in the world, some of these mines  are no longer active, however, they have become sites of activity providers who have tuned the sleeping mountains into a hub of activity.

Slate Mountain Adventure tours is one of the must-do visits in Snowdonia. It takes you a journey across a 2,000-acre site. You start your expedition with an off-road trip in an ex-military truck to heights of over 1500 feet. On your route, you will experience some old mining sites at Llechwedd, some of them dating back more than 300 years. You will then make a brief stop and continue to head underground on the steepest cable rope in Britain to experience the caverns and tunnel systems that miners used to work regularly during the Victorian era. Once you arrive back at the surface, your adventure tour will conclude with a slate splitting demonstration by your tour guide. During your  visit to the Slate Mountains, you can enjoy three amazing and thrilling zip lines and fly down Europe’s largest zipping zone. You will remember the adventure  to the Slate Mountains for a long time to come.

 

Snowdonia – Places to visit and things to do

Image : Snowdoniamountainguides.com

Those who visit Snowdonia will find that it is a perfect blend of natural sight-seeing spots and man-made attractions.  The major attractions are the 14 peaks including Snowdon which is 3560 feet high. Crib Goch, Garnedd Ugain, Lliwedd and Yr Aran are some of the other peaks. They are all set in the spectacular Snowdonia National Park. The peaks can also be viewed from the Nantlle Valley and Porthmadog. Capel Curig village provides the most awe-inspiring views of the peaks. The lengthy hiking trails and the enchanting scenic beauty all around make the visit the most enjoyable as well as exciting for visitors. The Mountain Railway, rock climbing, white water rafting, paragliding, ziplining and the National Slate Museum are some of the man-made places of interests and activities. Those who plan their holiday in Snowdonia have various options for accommodation. There are  campgrounds, hostels, inns run by families, bed-and-breakfast and more. Apart from the natural beauty Snowdonia is also known for its world-famous historical sites. Six million people visit Snowdonia every year and the visitors enjoy the magnificent scenery, delicious food, comfortable accommodation and the various outdoor experiences.

 

Mount Snowdon

Image : Tripsavvy

 

 

 

Snowdonia National Parks top attractions 

Image : msm.com

This park covers an area of 823 square miles and is spread between Penmaenmawr and Caernarfon. The most popular part of the park can be comfortably reached by Snowdon Mountain Railway. This park has more than 50 lakes and the Welsh hill farms, the historic stonewalls, the ancient circles and the Roman ruins illustrate the rich cultural heritage of the area.

Snowdon Mountain Railway

Image : Snowdoniarailway.co.uk

 

The 100-year-old Snowdon Mountain Railway starts from Llanberis and takes the visitors up through the five-mile narrow gauge to the summit. It has a maximum speed of a little more than 5 mph and passes through Hebron, Halfway and Clogwyn stations. The passengers enjoy the scenery and views of the flora and fauna along the way. Refreshments are available at Llanberis station. It is advisable to book the train journey in advance and discounts are offered for online booking.

 

The National Slate Museum

Image : Snowdoniapass.co.uk

At Llanberis you can visit the National Slate Museum, the largest working waterwheel of Britain and the 19th-century workshop as well as machinery here.This museum, located at the Dinorwig quarry on the Elidir Mountain reminds visitors about an industry on which Wales and the people of Wales depended upon once upon a time. There are demonstrations of quarrying and slate splitting Some of the features displayed here reveal the miserable conditions which the workers here had to endure.

Beddgelert

Image : Berddgelerttourism.com

Quaint Beddgelert is a tiny, beautiful village which is at the confluence of the two rivers – Colwan and Glaslyn. This village is one among the loveliest in Wales. From this place one can reach Moel Hebog after a two hour’s climb. The panoramic view across the Cardigan Bay from here  is really awe-inspiring. The road northeast from here proceeds to Nant y Gwynant which is one of the most beautiful valleys in Wales. Beddgelert is on the route of the Welsh Highland Railway that connects this  directly to Porthmadog and Caernarfon.  There is an abundance of accommodation in the area from quaint hotels to  guest houses and B&Bs.

 

Caernarfon Castle

Image : Caernarfon.com

This castle was constructed in the year 1283 on the orders of King Edward I. The castle is a symbol of new English rule in Wales. The castle is known for its series of murder holes and advanced arrow slits. During the English Civil War this castle resisted three sieges. The first son of Edward I, who was the first Prince of Wales was born here in the year 1284. In the year 1969 Prince Charles was invested as Prince of Wales. Caernarfon Castle is a UNESCO world heritage site.

 

Waterfalls in Snowodnia 

Image : dioni.co.uk

When visited after heavy rains the waterfalls in Snowdonia appear highly impressive. Among them the most popular waterfalls are Swallow and Conwy which are close to Betws-y-Coed. Swallow is the longest continuous waterfall in Wales and is on river Llugwy. Conwy Falls are at the confluence of Conwy and Machno rivers and feature a fish pass.

 

Portmeirion

Image : Tripadvisor.ie

 

This small, beautiful village on the estuary of the River Dwyryd was built by Sir Clough Williams – Ellis in fifty years. Visitors come to this village to experience its mild climate, peaceful surrounding and the exciting Mediterranean colours. The famous television series The Prisoner was filmed in Portmeirion in 1967. There is a 4-star hotel with 53 rooms, spa, shops, tea-room, restaurant, beach and 70 acres of open grounds. Portmeirion is a popular attraction of Snowdonia.

The Glyders

Image : trailman.co.uk

The Glyders – the 994 metre Glyder Fach and the 999 metre Glyder Fawr are among the most beautiful mountains of UK. These glyders provide the most spectacular views of Snowdon and its surrounding mountains in the south-west. To the north-east one can view the front ridge of the Cameddau.

 

Betws-y-Coed and The Ugly House

Image : Tripadvisor.co.uk

Betws-y-Coed is a highly preferred holiday spot in Snowdonia and during summer this place attracts thousands of visitors. This is a beautiful small town located in the Gwydyr Forest and is at the junction of three valleys – Conwy, Lledr and Llugwy. The very beautiful surroundings consist of the Fairy Glen and Swallow as well as Conwy waterfalls. The picuresque 15th century stone cottage known as The Ugly House in Capel Curig,  Legend has it that there was a time when, if you could build a house in a day and send smoke up the chimney, it would give you the right to throw an axe as far as you could from each corner of the house to claim the land as yours. It was said that it was also a place used by robbers to hide. Apart from eating at the fine restaurants the visitors can enjoy the exciting shopping of original products of Welsh craft, artworks and souvenirs at the galleries and the boutique shops.

 

National Whitewater Centre

Image : Visitbala.org

All visitors can enjoy a variety of paddle sport adventures at the National Whitewater Centre near the town of Bala. The rafting and the training centre for kayakers are the major attractions.

 

Dolwyddelan Castle

Image : betws-y-coed.com

This castle was built between 1210 and 1240 by Llwelyn the Great, who was a very powerful prince in the Welsh history. This castle was used during the wars between Edward I and the Welsh before falling to English forces in 1283. The small village of Dolwyddelan is also very interesting to walk around and  beautiful 500-year old  St. Gwyddelan Church is also situated here.

 

Bala Lake

Image : Visitbala.org

The market town of Bala and the awe-inspiring Bala Lake are on the eastern edge of Snowdonia. This popular holiday spot is at the foot of Aran and Berwyn Mountains. The 4-mile long Bala Lake is the major attraction. This is the longest lake in Wales and is ideal for sailing, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. The narrow-gauge Bala Lake Railway runs along the shore of this lake and also passes through a picturesque part of the Snowdonia National Park.

 

Electric Mountain

Image : Dayoutwiththekids.com

The Electric Mountain which is a major attraction for the young as well as old is on Padarn Lake in Llanberis. Visitors enjoy the fun experience at the Dinorwig Power Station which can provide power to entire Wales. The hour-long journey by minibus starts from the visitor center and goes through one of the world’s largest manmade caverns. The indoor playground can be used by children over the age of 4 years.

 

Sygun Copper Mine

Image : Tripadvisor

This underground fun adventure provides the opportunity to explore different types of winding tunnels in Snowdonia. Visitors can view the magnificent stalactite and stalagmite formations and a lot of colourful, well-lit caverns. The other attractions are the visitor centre and museum, the abandoned mines and the play area for children.

 

Cadair Idris

Image : graigwen.co.uk

Cadair Idris which is 893 metre high is one among the most beautiful mountain peaks of the Snowdonia National Park. This peak is known for its beauty. According to legend this peak was used by the Welsh giant Idris as a chair for star-gazing. It is believed that this mountain has many bottomless lakes and it has been said that those who spend a night on the mountain will wake up either as a poet or as a madman.!