Spanning a mammoth 823 miles of picturesque serenity, Snowdonia National Park in Wales can most aptly be described as a land of superlatives. Tucked away along Britain’s west coast, it bears the honour of being the oldest National Park in Wales and the third oldest in all of Britain. Established in 1951, the region is home to the Snowdon, the highest mountain peak in Wales, from which it derives its name. The Snowdon and its fellow mountains descend into flourishing valleys, gushing rivers, massive lakes, placid beaches and raging waterfalls flanked by little market towns and villages. The climate, though best described as wet and rainy is in no way dampening to one’s spirits.
Speckled generously across the scenic landscape, one can find distinct markers of history and culture in the castles, museums and villages of the area. Brushing up on your Welsh is an added bonus as the park is home to over 20,000 inhabitants, more than half of which speak Welsh.
Providing some of the best opportunities globally for adventure, relaxation, symbiosis with nature and cultural exploration, Snowdonia National Park offers a little something to lift the spirits of every tourist. It’s no wonder then that over 6 million visitors visit the park annually, making it the most visited National Park in Wales.
History of the Area
For a region that boasts staggering views of untouched natural beauty, the region of Snowdonia bears generous traces of history and cultural heritage across the landscape. Snowdonia National Park served as a natural fortress for the Princes of Gwynedd and for Llewellyn, the last true Prince of Wales. Here, one finds a host of castles dating as far back as the 13th century including the Castell y Bere and the Harlech Castle built by King Edward I.
On traversing through some of the remote villages, one may come across the ancient practice of witchcraft transmitted orally across generations, so integral to the history of the region. This is evident from the many myths and legends of witches and wizards that took shape here, the most iconic being the story of the Wicked Witch of Snowdonia.
The industrial history of the region is quite rich as well. Snowdonia is home to one of the highest railway stations in the U.K. and the iconic Welsh Highland Railway. The Talyllyn Railway is said to have inspired the film The Titfield Thunderbolt. The Llechwedd Slate Mines at Blaeneau Ffestiniog are a marvel and serve as phenomenal indicators of the flourishing Welsh slate mining industry way back in the 18th Century.
One can reach Snowdonia National Park by train, bus, sea, plane or car and commute within the park by train, bus or car.
Words can never be enough to describe the staggering views of natural beauty one experiences in the region.
The heroic Snowdon Mountain stands majestically at 3560 feet and lords above the park. It takes a bit of training and fitness to summit the peak, but the breathtaking views at the top are absolutely worth it. Dressing appropriately and wearing the right footwear is necessary owing to freezing temperatures and slippery paths due to the rains. Besides the Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park houses over 90 other peaks including the Tryfan and the Y Garn amidst several mountain ranges.
The region has its fair share of lakes, Lake Bala and Padarn Lake being the most iconic, offering expansive views, water activities and marine life. For a change of scenery, one can walk along the seashore at Snowdonia National Park’s beaches, the most visited being Harlech Beach flanked by beautiful mountain peaks in the background.
The area boasts a mélange of exotic flora and fauna. A variety of birds such blackbirds, robins, finches, owls, buzzards and many many more make Snowdonia National Park an ornithologist’s nirvana. Keep your eyes peeled for The Snowdon Lily, a protected, rare species, the Gwyniad (a freshwater fish), found almost exclusively in Bala Lake and the Freshwater pearl mussel, an endangered species. Bats, badgers, polecats, dolphins, porpoises and seals are also found here.
The landscape of Snowdonia National Park is peppered with castles dating back to the 13th century including the Castell y Bere, the Doldabarn, the Dolwyddelan and the spectacular castle at Harlech built by King Edward I.
St. Mary’s Church and St. Grwst Church are two of the most frequented churches in the area.
The Welsh Slate Museum at Llanberis, the Conwy Valley Railway Museum and Model Shop at Betws-y-Coed and the Conwy Mussel Museum at Conwy among others enrich the tourist’s historical knowledge of the region in various aspects. A cocktail of ancient and modern Welsh culture can be seen in the area’s many villages with ancient arts and crafts still being practiced even though villagers are tolerant and well integrated with tourists.
Make sure you pay a visit to Plas Mawr, Conwy Town Walls, Conwy Suspension Bridge and the smallest house in Britain while you are in Conwy.
Scoring high on the list of Britain’s premier hiking destinations, you can summit over 90 mountain peaks and check them off your bucket list within the limits of Snowdonia National Park. Other adventure sports include rock climbing, canyoning, kayaking, gorge walking, canoeing, ziplining, underground tours, treetop adventures, kite surfing and white water rafting to get your adrenaline pumping.
After a bit of thrilling adventure, you can take it easy and take in the beautiful sights with guided tours of various regions including walking tours, cycling tours, and cruises.
A village pub characterizes the dining culture of Snowdonia’s villages. Almost every village has its own pub that serves food as well. Try some of the local delicacies at popular pubs such as The Albion Ale House at Conwy and the Cellb at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Very few nightclubs are found limited to luxury resort areas.
A variety of hotels, inns, cottages and resorts are found all over the area ranging from plush luxury resorts to bed and breakfast hotels. There are arrangements for fully residential farmhouse cottages, hostels and camping in the area.
A perfect destination for your next holiday, Snowdonia National Park is sure to leave you with picture perfect memories that you will treasure forever.