Many people underestimate the beauty of their home nation and us Brits are no different. I grew up only 100 miles from the beautiful Snowdonia National Park and The Lake District, yet I can count on one hand the number of times I have visited each of them. I’ve traveled to the great national parks of the Rockies and the north west United States, but never fully explored what is on my doorstep. For me, a trip to Snowdonia is long overdue and so here I present a guide to Snowdonia National Park by my friend Frankie Hughes.
As you walk through the natural forests of this park, the wind blowing through the Welsh Oak and Mountain Ash and the ravens giving hoarse cries, you could be forgiven in thinking that you had walked into a very old fairy tale. This rugged and mysterious wilderness is rich with atmosphere and within its overgrown forests and stony mountains you will find plenty of craggy old castles with their own ancient stories. The local signs that mark your way along the route are often in both English and Welsh and many traditional and historic aspects of Welsh life can be seen, making you feel like you are more in Middle Earth than in the UK.
Snowdonia National Park is home to the biggest mountains in England and Wales, as well as a coastline of sandy beaches, jaw-dropping cliffs and several excellent bird estuaries. This beautiful region is very popular for mountaineering, hiking, white-water kayaking and other active outdoor activities. It is also known for being home to Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, as well as for being the fortress for the last true Prince of Wales, Llewellyn.
On a holiday to this region, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do. You could be walking barefoot on the sandy of the beaches in the morning and then enjoying the view from the top of a mountain that very same afternoon.
Here are a few ideas of what you can do on your getaway to Snowdonia National Park:
Take the Snowdon Mountain Railway
See the stunning scenery in comfort on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, a 4 mile 2.5 hour long train ride that chugs its way slowly up Mount Snowdon to a height of 3500 feet. The railway itself dates back to 1896 and it is the only railway of this type, a rack-and-pinion style, in the UK. The first train of the day will depart at 9am and will stop for 30 minutes at the summit so that you can enjoy the view before returning. The train runs from March to October.
Explore a Castle
Throughout Snowdonia there are a number of castles that date back to the 12th and 13th centuries. These castles were built during the battles by the Welsh Princes of Gwynedd against King Edward I of England and King John. These castles were generally built high in the mountain country, where the Welsh princes hoped to have the upper hand. Check out Dolbadarn, a beautiful Welsh built castle that is located close to the town of Llanberis. Also, be sure to take the time to visit Castell y Bere, the most impressive fortress of the Welsh Princes and Dolwyddelan, which claims to be the birthplace of Prince Llywelyn.
Have an Extreme Adventure
Snowdonia National Park is known for its excellent extreme sporting opportunities and there are many ways to get your adrenaline pumping here. You could go rock climbing, white-water rafting on the River Tryweryn, kayaking, canoeing or even kite surfing here. There are several outdoor adventure companies that provide instruction and equipment for a wide range of activities. For example, the mountain biking on the trails within the Dyfi Valley Forest is considered to be come of the very best in the country. For the best experience, beat the crowds by avoid weekends in the summertime.
Just Relax and Enjoy
On your holiday to Snowdonia National Park, give yourself plenty of time just to soak in the stunning surroundings and breathe the fresh air. Within this area of outstanding natural beauty, the gorgeous views will recharge and invigorate you and leave you feeling energised and refreshed.
Frankie Hughes is a writer who loves a holiday which allows you to explore nature and history. She recommends renting a cottage from STS Holidays in Snowdonia to allow you to enjoy the beautiful and natural surroundings of the National Park.