Snowdonia is synonymous with physical challenge due in no small part to Mount Snowdon, the largest mountain in England and Wales. While many visit Snowdon to climb and push their personal limits, Snowdonia has a beautiful wild diversity and stunning coast with Blue Flag beaches, mountain villages and the famous Caernarfon Castle. The area is also renowned for festivals such as the Glass Butter Beach sports and music festival and Portmeirion Festival No.6.
There is much to see and do whilst in Snowdonia. Here are my top five Snowdonia activities and attractions:
The Ffestiniog Railway and the Welsh Highland Railway
The Ffestiniog Railway and the Welsh Highland Railway take visitors on an epic adventure. The Welsh Highland Railway is almost certainly Snowdonia’s most spectacular railway: you start your journey just a stone’s throw from the UNESCO-listed magnificent Caernarfon Castle, a majestic start for any journey. The Welsh Highland is the UK’s longest heritage railway and runs 25 miles to Porthmadog Harbour Station. You will be treated to some of Snowdonia’s most treasured sites, from the foothills of Snowdon to the Village of Beddgelert, which is flanked by Snowdon’s hills and is pretty as a picture with the river Glaslyn running through it. Next you will pass through Aberglaslyn Pass, voted the UK’s most beautiful spot by the National Trust. Your journey’s end is Porthmadog, where you can look around the Maritime Museum, venture outside and stretch your legs with a walk along the Lyn coastal path, or hire a bike and cycle along the Lon Ardudwy cycle route.
The Ffestiniog Railway starts its journey at Porthmadog, a scenic harbour town known as the gateway to Snowdonia National Park. From Porthmadog you will climb over 700ft as the track winds around the mountain side and passes through peaceful pastures and green wooded forest, glistening lakes and magnificent waterfalls. For more than 150 years Prince and Palmerston, the world’s oldest steam engines, have ran along this 13.5-mile track to Blaenau Ffestiniog, the former slate capital of the world.
Llechwedd Slate Caverns
Once in Blaenau Ffestiniog there is plenty to keep you occupied. Llechwedd Slate Caverns make up one of the biggest working slate mines in Wales, and will take you deep underground on an historical adventure. Slate quarrying dates back here to 1836 and you can travel deep underground and experience how Victorian families worked. With lighting and sound effects the Caverns are brought to life as the tour guides give a detailed account of life in the Caverns.
When back up top you can stop for refreshments in the Café, perhaps lunching on Lobscows, a traditional welsh stew which would have been eaten by the miners underground. There is also a shop so you can take home a little bit of Wales when you leave.
Llechwedd is also home to Zip World and early June sees the opening of the longest zip line in the world. Be one of the first to try this breathtaking experience.
Wild About Wales
If Wales and walking go hand in hand for you, look no further than Wild About Wales: whether you want to climb Snowdon, explore some of the low- and mid-levels or enjoy a family walk, Wild About Wales and their experienced and qualified guides can introduce you to the ideal walk/scramble/climb. There are even themed walks for flora lovers, history seekers or folklore enthusiasts!
Ropes and Ladders
For an outdoor experience with a difference your first stop should be Ropes and Ladders, situated in the 800-acre Padarn Country Park, providing some serious outdoor fun with stunning views of Mount Snowdon and the adjacent Lake.
Perfect for all of the family, with a dedicated rope adventure area for children aged between four and eight, it not only provides thrills for the younger members of the family, but also teaches them about the equipment and builds confidence for when they are ready to move on to the higher ropes. The experienced instructors have a real passion for ensuring your adventure is the best you could possibly have. Ropes and Ladders isn’t just another high ropes course; it really is much more – many cite their favourite parts of the day as the ‘Leap of Faith’ and the ‘3G Swing’, but don’t just take my word for it. Make sure you plan a visit whilst in Snowdonia.
High Ropes sister company Snowdonia Outdoor has qualified and experienced instructors who can take you rock climbing and abseiling or hill walking – all levels are catered for and you are guaranteed to be well looked after.
Staying with the great outdoors, Bach Ventures are a family-run business who love to share their passion for the joys of outdoor activities and deliver a host of pursuits run by an experienced and passionate team. Courses are tailored to individual requirements and ability. You can enjoy sea kayaking, group walking in the mountains, gorge scrambling, trekking and hill skills, and expeditioning. Making the most of what you have on your doorstep seems like an understatement; with mountains, lakes, gorges and a rugged and stunning coastline, the choices for exploring and enjoying this wondrous landscape are vast.
So there are my top five activities and attractions, just the tip of the iceberg in what you can look forward to from a visit to Snowdonia. Tailor your break to suit your individual passion, book a house or cottage, and enjoy exploring this beacon of Welsh beauty; the sense of freedom will be exhilarating.