Snowdonia Mountains & Coast | Wales | Towns | Accommodation | Activities | Events | Walks
To describe Snowdonia as simply an area of outstanding beauty is an understatement. The sheer scale of the mountains, the scope of the vistas and the majesty of the glacial valleys betray an awe inspiring majesty that speaks of ancient forces. The landscape harbours not only a unique geology, but a rich diversity of wildlife; put simply, nature abounds.
Snowdonia is an Eden for walkers, a haven for those who value clean air in their lungs and the raw earth beneath their feet. Every sort of outdoor pursuit is available, from the pedestrian to the pulse racing. The towns and villages that adorn the rugged hills offer respite and relaxation, history and hospitality. Harlech, Barmouth and Aberdovey hug the coastline; their picturesque streets open out onto award winning beaches cast in the shadow of imperious mountains.
Dolgellau, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Bala nestle at the feet of these slopes, their histories woven between livelihood and landscape. Suffice to say, Snowdonia is a truly unforgettable region that invites awe and affection in equal measure. No trip to snowdonia would be complete without a visit to the famous Portmeirion Village or Harlech Castle, a World Heritage site.
‘Men of Harlech on to glory, This will ever be your story, Keep these burning words before ye, Welshmen will not yield’, or so the song goes. The song dates back to a seven year siege of Harlech Castle in the 15th century, but the Castle itself has a much longer history. Whilst its origins are marred in the myth of Princess Branwen and tales of endless feasting, recorded history remembers it as the scene of many a bloody battle. Harlech Castle has witnessed some of the most momentous periods of British History but has remained remarkably well preserved in spite of them. Today it is a designated Unesco World Heritage Site.
Snowdonia National Park
Home to some of the most famous mountain ranges in Britain and the source of inspiration for a nation, Snowdonia National Park acquired its status in 1951 making it the second oldest in Britain. From the windswept peaks of mount Snowdon, to the balmy shores of lake Bala
, the Snowdonia National Park is a truly diverse dominion. Aside from the spectacular landscape and all its associated pleasures, the Park also includes the warm hospitality of its inhabitants, their charming towns, ancient cultures and excellent local produce.
Designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in 1925, Portmerion Village was built in imitation of a rustic Italian village. Sitting at the feet of Snowdonia it makes for a charming dislocation that is truly unique. Portmeirion’s place in popular culture has been set in stone as a result. The iconic sixties spy drama, The Prisoner, led to an avalanche of programmes using the village of Portmeirion as a setting, and many more as an inspiration (Jools Holland, Noel Coward, Paul McCartney, Steven Fry, Supergrass and Iron Maiden are just a few names on that roll call). Previously the village had entertained Frank Lloyd Wright, Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman, making Portmeirion undoubtedly the jewel in the glittering crown of Snowdonia.
SIGHTS OF SNOWDONIA
The iconic peak of Cadair Idris stands at the southern edge of Snowdonia not far from Dolgellau
. It was a favourite of Wordsworth and has been a favourite of thousands of walkers since. The name of the mountain is often explained as the ‘Chair’ (Cadair) of Idris, Idris being a giant from Welsh mythology
who is said to have used the mountain as a chair from which to gaze at the stars.
The Mawddach river flows from the lofty peaks of Snowdonia and though some of the most picturesque valleys in the world before it opens its wide mouth to the Irish Channel at Barmouth
. Wordsworth dubbed it “the sublime estuary” for good reason. You can walk, cycle, drive or ride round it, you can even swim, fish, sail or sieve for gold in it, but you must see it.
Bala Lake: Bala
Lake is the largest lake in Wales, a shimmering oasis of flat calm in the midst of the mountains. The shores of Bala Lake, or Llyn Tegid as it is known, are a home to wide range of water sports including everything from kayaking to wind-surfing, whilst the unique species of fish that populate the lake attract many anglers
The Berwyn Mountains:
Home to the original Arthurian Legends the Berwyn Mountains are at the darker edges of Snowdonia. The sparsely populated and rugged moorland is home to sinking bogs, wild beasts and perpetual mystery. Despite meriting the epithet the ‘Brutal Berwyns’, they are also sublimely beautiful and encapsulate a true sense of wilderness.
The highest peak in Wales, and the mountain that gives the National Park its name, needs little introduction. The views are unsurpassed in these isles, the ways up and down are varied and it can even be scaled by train. Snowdon is quite simply the most popular mountain to climb in the UK.
The Talyllyn Railway
is a historic narrow-gauge steam railway set in the beautiful Snowdonian countryside. Running from Tywyn
to Abergynolwyn and Nant Gwernol through the Fathew valley, the line passes the delightful Dolgoch Falls and the dark forests of Nant Gwernol at a very gentle and leisurely pace.
Welsh Highland & Ffestiniog Railway:
The Welsh Highland & Ffestiniog Railway
is a narrow gauge heritage railway and is run by the oldest, unamalgamated, independent railway company in the world. One line runs from the harbour at Porthmadog to the old slate mining town Blaenau Ffestiniog
, through the heart of Snowdonia. The other line runs from Porthmadog to Caernafon.
The Corris Railway
was originally built in 1859 and was the first narrow gauge railway in Mid-Wales. Appropriately the Corris Railway also has its own free admission museum which brings the history of the heritage railway to life. Running from Corris to Machynlleth
, passenger services ceased in 1930 but the railway re-opened as a tourist attraction in 2005.
Welsh Highland Heritage Railway:
Not to be confused with the Welsh Highland Railway
, the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway
is a railway with a difference. The heritage railway will take you on a wonderful educational journey around Porthmadog and into the history of steam railway. It is also possible to drive the train yourself with one on one experiences available for the true train enthusiast.
The Centre for Alternative Technology
is a truly unique place. Home to pioneering technology, academic research and several post-graduate schemes CAT has a global audience. It also is a fantastic educational resource that is unparalleled anywhere else in the UK. CAT is devoted to spreading awareness of sustainable living and progressive attitudes towards the environment that is suitable and fun for all ages.
King Arthur’s Labyrinth:
Found deep beneath the mountains of Southern Snowdonia in the village of Corris, King Arthur's Labyrinth
is one of the most mysterious visitor attractions in Snowdonia. Join your hooded boatman and sail underground, through a waterfall and back across a thousand years. Submerged in the darkest of the Dark Ages, enjoy tales of King Arthur and other ancient Welsh legends.
forests are home to the tree top adventure playgrounds of Go Ape
. The UK’s number one forest adventure facility has got it all; from zip wires to Tarzan swings the Go Ape team can guarantee fun for all ages in groups as large as 300.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
The Waters of Bala:
not only provides visitors with beautiful Snowdonian scenery it also offers a range of high octane activities. Bala Watersports
are specialists in everything from windsurfing and kayaking to abseiling and gorge walking. Meanwhile the National White Water Centre
is the largest white water rafting centre in the UK.
Coed-y-Brenin: Coed-y-Brenin Forest
is a haven for outdoor activities. It is home to the first and largest mountain bike trail centre in the UK. There are also number of walking trails, orienteering opportunities and geocaching facilities. The visitors centre also runs dedicated arts and crafts programme.
Internationally renowned, Royal St David's
is one of Wales' premier golf courses. It provides a challenging test of golf in a breath-taking setting in the most beautiful and scenic part of the Principality and is dominated by the brooding presence of Harlech Castle
. Whilst the links course
comes highly recommended by legendary sports writer Bernard Darwin.