Claims to Fame:
The jagged peaks of Snowdonia are among the most ancient rocks on earth. The local culture is also rather ancient, with music and poetry dating back to the Bronze Age. About 65% of the local population speak Welsh, one of the oldest spoken languages in Europe, as their mother tongue. Snowdonia also has:
- The highest peak in England and Wales
- Swallow Falls, the highest continuous waterfall in Wales
- The Fairy Glen, also called Fairy Falls, a green and mist filled gorge on the River Conwy
- Betws-y-Coed, a village named for prayers in the forest.
- At Morfa Dyffryn, the best nude beach in the UK
Statistics and Superlatives:
Snowdonia National Park covers 840 sq.miles of northwest Wales, 570 sq.miles protected for conservation or special scientific interest. 20% is legally protected because of its wildlife. The park also has:
- 90 summits above 2,000 ft. and 15 over 3,000 ft.
- 9 mountain ranges covering 52% of the land
- 1,700 miles of public footpaths, bridlepaths and rights of way
- 75% of its area in private ownership with the rest owned by the Crown, National Trust, MOD, Forestry Commission, other public bodies.
- The highest peaks are Snowdon (3,560 ft.) in the north and Cader Idris (2,929 ft.) in the South.
Towns and Villages:
Most of Snowdonia's population - about 26,000 - is concentrated along the coast, between Barmouth and Harlech.
The rest live in a scattering of small market towns:
- Bala One of the park's larger towns
- Beddgelert Burial place of the legendary Gelert, the faithful hound of Medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great
- Betws-y-Coed Gateway to Swallow Falls and the Fairy Glen, and one of the prettiest towns of North Wales
Snowdonia is dotted with castles, some only ruins, some magnificent and at least one converted to a B&B!
- Conwy Just outside the park but worth a visit
- Dolwyddelan Castle
- Castell y Bere
- Dolbadarn Castle
- Gwydir Castle A privately owned, fortified Tudor House, the paneled dining room was recently returned from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's a B&B and open, in season, for day visits as well.
- Penrhyn Castle This National Trust property is a 19th century fantasy worth visiting for the contents, grounds and views
More National Trust Properties in Snowdonia:
A selection of historic houses, gardens and countryside areas owned by the National Trust and open to the public:
- Aberconwy House 14th century townhouse in Conwy, believed to be the oldest in Wales.
- Conwy Suspension Bridge Elegant suspension bridge, designed for Conwy Castle by Thomas Telford in 1826
- Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant A 16th century farmhouse, birthplace of William Morgan, first translator of the bible into Welsh
There are nine mapped trails up Snowdon and Cader Idris all graded as hard mountain walks.
Helpfully, the Snowdonia National Park website includes ascent and descent videos so that walkers can judge the level of difficulty for themselves.
- Llanberis PathThe most popular tourist path up Snowdon
- Snowdon Ranger Path
- PYG Track For experienced, equipped walkers
- Miners Track A safe mountain walk for the less experienced
- Rhyd Ddu Path Easier and less used
- Watkin Path Victorian path
- Tŷ Nant Path Pony Trail up Cader Idris
- Minffordd Path Short and steep on Cader Idris
- Llanfihangel y Pennant PathEasier but longer on Cader Idris
One of the best aspects of Snowdonia for walking enthusiasts is that there are paths and trails at all levels for all abilities. The Mawddach Trail, considered to be one of the best trails for cyclists as well as walkers in Britain, is among several easier walks suitable for people with limited mobility.
Getting Around by Car:
Except for a stretch of the M4 in South Wales, Wales is motorway free. There are, nevertheless, good quality "A" roads that zig zag through the park. The A470 runs north-south through Snowdonia, intersected by the A5 (Betws-y-Coed-Bangor), the A494 (Dolgellau-Bala)and the A487 (toward Porthmadog and Caernarvon). Use the A493 and A496 for the beaches.
Driving is easy, and roads are usually quiet but they are not fast and you may be sharing them with cyclists, pedestrians and, occasionally, sheep. During the summer, on bank holidays and weekends, roads around Betwys-y-Coed can be busy.
Getting Around By Train:
Check National Rail Enquiries for routes and schedules to these main rail stations within the National Park:
and at the Snowdonia gateway towns of:
Three scenic railway services operate within the park:
- The Rheilffordd Ffestiniog Railway between Porthmadog harbor and the slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog - the world's oldest operational passenger railway.
- The Welsh Highland Railway joins Caernarvon to Rhyd Ddu, a village on the slopes of Snowdon.
- Conwy Valley Railway links the north coast to the heart of the park.
The Snowdon Sherpa - The Best Travel Bargain in Snowdonia:
Sherpa Buses crisscross the northern (Gwynedd)section of Snowdonia National Park, connecting villages, recreation areas and trailheads. A day pass, for unlimited, hop on-hop off travel on the day of purchase costs only £4 (£2 for children).
More information and timetables for the Snowdon Sherpa.
Seven More Cool Things To Do in Snowdonia
- Get on your bike Mountain biking is popular in the Gwydyr Forest near Betws-y-Coed.
- Have Tea in the Garden Visit world-famous Bodnant Garden, owned by the national Trust, for its lovely woodlands, its views of Snowdon, its azalea gardens. Then stop for a cup of tea with home made goodies.
- Go Down The Mines at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns. Descend Britain's steepest passenger railway for an underground son et lumiere in the Victorian slate mines.
- Go Up The Mountain Climb Snowdon the easy way on the Snowdon Mountain Railway a really spectacular 2.5 hour journey to the summit.
- Ride 'em Cowperson Pony trekking is a tranquil way to see the best of the National Park. Snowdonia Riding Stables has information on how to organize a vacation on horseback.
- Get very, very wet white water rafting at on the the Tryweryn from the National White Water Center. This is a dam released river, flowing when other UK rivers are dry and providing year round white water experiences.
- Get Natural, strip off an flaunt it at Morfa Dyffryn regularly selected as one of UK's best, official, nude beaches.
See views of Snowdonia
Not sure whether you'd enjoy a visit to Snowdonia? These pictures will give you an idea of what to expect:
Be safe and check the weather before your Snowdonia Walk