Our season of reasons to stay in the UK this summer takes us to Snowdonia in North Wales. In this land of high peaks and even higher thrills, it’s possible to climb one mountain, fly down another and still have time and money for a sunset pint at the end of the pier. Kirstie Pelling from The Family Adventure Project asks why you’d want to go all the way to the Alps, and needless to say, she gives us some pretty good reasons not to.
Where am I?
I am on top of the world. With a crag to my right, rolling hills and a bay out in front, and an Alpine bar on hand for some après ski. I push off downhill, as the boys head upwards on the ski lift. But I am not in the Alps.
I am on top of the world. I am facing a steep slope of jagged rock leading down to a deep steely blue lake. I launch off and soar high above the mini-figure people on the longest zip wire in the northern hemisphere. I am truly flying, reaching speeds of up to 70mph. But I am not in the Alps.
I am on top of the world. On high ramparts leading to an ancient city wall that existed for generations before me. I am winding my way up and down Rapunzel-like towers which saw endless battles and crusades won and lost. I am feeling my way around ancient stone that has withstood invaders, tourists and harsh winters. But I am not in the Alps.
Why am I not in the Alps? Because, frankly, it’s an expensive schlep. Snowdonia, on the other hand, is easily accessible by car or train. The food is good, there’s no need to exchange currency and while some locals speak another language, they all understand English!
To be specific…
Ok, Snowdonia’s mountains may not be as tall, but they can be as rugged, enduring and demanding as an Alp. Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and is an accessible and stretching day’s walk. Or a lovely ride up in a train. It even has a café on top. The area also has some fine ridge walks like Crib Gogh to rival any Alpine experience. And Llanberis has Pete’s Eats, a legendary climbers café that can stuff you fuller than any French restaurant with one breakfast and an enormous mug of tea.
If you like your serious mountain expeditions, Snowdonia offers plenty of scope without the need to commit to multi-day, Alpine-style touring. And, if you prefer little mountains or lazy climbing there are places like Llandudno’s Great Orme where you can climb by choice of tram, bus or cable car. You can even walk up with the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit at weekends in summer on an engaging Alice and Wonderland tour. What Alpine resort has a Mad Hatter? If you find one, please let me know.
While it might not have real snow, there is a little Alpine-style resort in Llandudno where you can ski, snowboard, tube and toboggan on one of the UK’s longest dry slopes. And Penrhyn slate quarry in Bethesda boasts the fastest zip wire in Europe at Zip World. It is a brilliant family experience, a real thrill and the closest you will ever come to feeling like Superman.
Where it really wins
On a summer’s day North Wales has one big advantage over France and Italy. When you’ve had enough of mountains, you can head down to the coast for a swim and an ice cream. Or you can enjoy an old-fashioned afternoon cream tea in a beautifully preserved Victorian resort before having some fun at the end of the pier. As far as I know, there’s no bingo in the Alps. And at the end of the evening when your tired and full of great food, retreat to a holiday home close to the action in Snowdonia.
Discover more about Snowdonia and Wales at the Visit Wales tourism board site.
Kirstie Pelling is Editor and co-founder of The Family Adventure Project, a family adventure lifestyle blog that aims to inspire families to get out, get active and have fun adventuring together. You can follow her and get more family adventure ideas, inspiration and tips on Twitter @familyonabike, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
With just one post to go, we’re almost finished looking at summer holidays in the UK, but we hope we’ve inspired you to look towards home when planning your next summer getaway. Whether you like beach holidays or rural retreats, wandering gardens or experiencing the world’s best festivals, the UK has a lot to offer; so why jet off half way around the world, when there are a world of experiences right on your doorstep?