Snowdonia, North Wales
Some of the most beautiful countryside
in the UK
Snowdonia has become one of our favourite destinations for short breaks, particularly out of season. The area has beautiful scenery, mountains, lakes, and waterfalls as well as interesting small towns and a coastline with traditional seaside resorts. It is a wonderful place for outdoor pursuits, including walking and photography as well as more rugged activities such as rock climbing and canoeing.
More often than not we base ourselves in Betws y Coed, a small town and outdoor centre which relies heavily on visitors and tourists. During the summer and other peak times it can be crowded and we tend to avoid it then, but off-peak it is much quieter and becomes a pleasant town around which to wander, browsing in the local shops (many of which sell outdoor clothing and equipment) or find somewhere for a meal. Afon Llugwy (River Llugwy) runs through the centre of the town, tumbling over rocks beside Pont y Pair (Bridge of the Cauldron) and creating a pronounced waterfall after heavy rain. A couple of miles to the north Swallow Falls offers a much greater and more dramatic fall with access to various levels for a small admission charge.
One of the most attractive features of Snowdonia is its collection of lakes, some visible from the road but many only after walking into the surrounding hills. There are many walks to and around the lakes, some more strenuous than others, and varying considerably with the time of year.
A few miles from Betws y Coed, reached via a narrow country lane from the village of Trefriw, is Llyn Crafnant. The road runs along one side, passing a small cafe that is open during the summer, and there is a walk around the lake and up into the surrounding hills.
Llyn Idwal is one of those lakes that can be reached only after a walk of 20 minutes or so. Start at a car park on the A5 a few miles north of Capel Curig, along a path of local stone and boulders that has been laid to protect the grassland. It rises several hundred feet without many steep sections, and once you reach the lake itself the view can be spectacular (depending upon the weather!) The rock faces surrounding Llyn Idwal were used for practice by the team that first climbed Everest (in the 1950s), supposedly because they were thought to be similar to those the climbers would find on Everest.
Many of the mountains are spectacular, not least Snowdon itself. For those unwilling to attempt the trek to the top there is a mountain railway operating for much of the year, starting from Llanberis.
Other things to see and do? There is a visitor centre with Slate Museum at Llanberis, and castles at Caernarvon and Conwy. Bodnant Gardens (NT) is beautiful, both because of the planting and for the views. Llandudno was once a very popular Victorian seaside town, and still has plenty to offer with long promenade, beaches and pier. A drive around The Great Orme headland, adjacent, is worthwhile.
All in all we think that Snowdonia has much to offer. We have stayed at two sites in the area:
Riverside Touring Park, close to the centre of Betws y Coed - excellent facilities and easy walking distance of shops and restaurants.
Maes-y-Bryn Camping Site, Llanrwst - a small farm site, voted one of the best 10 sites in Wales, a few miles from Llanrwst.