Snowdonia National Park: Wikis

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Snowdonia (Eryri)
Protected Area
Tryfan's north ridge (seen on the left in this picture) in the Snowdonia National Park.
Country  Wales
Councils Gwynedd, Conwy County Borough
Highest point Snowdon
 - elevation 1,085 m (3,560 ft)
 - coordinates 53°04′08″N 4°04′32″W / 53.068865°N 4.075588°W / 53.068865; -4.075588
Area 838 sq mi (2,170 km2)
National Park of Wales 1951
IUCN category V - Protected Landscape/Seascape
A map of Snowdonia National Park shown in relation to North Wales.

Snowdonia (Welsh: Eryri) is a region in north Wales and a national park of 838 square miles (2,170 km2) in area. It was the first to be designated of the three National Parks in Wales, in 1951.

Contents

Name and extent

The English name for the area derives from Snowdon, which is the highest mountain in Wales at 3,560 ft (1,085m). In Welsh, the area is named Eryri. One assumption is that the name is derived from eryr ("eagle"), but others state that it means quite simply Highlands, as leading Welsh scholar Sir Ifor Williams proved.[1] In the Middle Ages the title Prince of Wales and Lord of Snowdonia (Tywysog Cymru ac Arglwydd Eryri) was used by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, whose home was at Garth Celyn on the north coast; his grandfather Llywelyn Fawr used the title Prince of north Wales and Lord of Snowdonia.

Today the word "Snowdonia" is largely synonymous with the Snowdonia National Park, although prior to the designation of the boundaries of the National Park, the term "Snowdonia" was generally used to refer to a much smaller area, namely the upland area of northern Gwynedd centred on the Snowdon massif, whereas the national park covers an area more than twice that size extending far to the south into Meirionnydd. This is apparent in books published prior to 1951 such as the classic travelogue Wild Wales by George Borrow (1862) and The Mountains of Snowdonia by H. Carr & G. Lister (1925). F. J. North, as editor of the book Snowdonia (1949), states "When the Committee delineated provisional boundaries, they included areas some distance beyond Snowdonia proper." The traditional Snowdonia thus includes the ranges of Snowdon and its satellites, the Glyderau, the Carneddau and the Moel Siabod group. It does not include the hills to the south of Maentwrog. As Eryri (see above), this area has a unique place in Welsh history, tradition and culture.

Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park (Welsh: Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri) was established in 1951 as the third National Park in Britain, following the Peak District and the Lake District. It covers 838 square miles (2,170 km2), and has 37 miles (60 km) of coastline.[2][3]

The Park is governed by the Snowdonia National Park Authority, which is made up of local government and Welsh representatives, and its main offices are at Penrhyndeudraeth. Unlike national parks in other countries, Snowdonia (and other such parks in Britain) are made up of both public and private lands under central planning authority. The makeup of land ownership at Snowdonia is as follows:

Snowdonia National Park
ownership type share (%)
Private 69.9
Forestry Commission 15.8
National Trust 8.9
CCW 1.7
National Park Authority 1.2
Water companies 0.9
Other 1.6

More than 26,000 people live within the Park, of whom about 62% can speak at least some Welsh.[4][5] The Park attracts over 6 million visitors annually, split almost equally between day and staying visitors, making it the third most visited National Park in England and Wales.[6]

Whilst most of the land is either open or mountainous land, there is a significant amount of agricultural activity within the Park.

Since the local government re-organisation of 1998, the Park lies partly in the county of Gwynedd, and partly in the county borough of Conwy. It is governed by the 18-member Snowdonia National Park Authority; 9 members are appointed by Gwynedd, 3 by Conwy, and the remaining 6 by the National Assembly for Wales to represent the national interest.[7]

Unusually, Snowdonia National Park has a hole in the middle, around the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, a slate quarrying centre. This was deliberately excluded from the Park when it was set up in order to allow the development of new light industry to replace the decimated slate industry.

The Snowdonia Society is a registered charity formed in 1967. It is a voluntary group of people with an interest in the area and its protection.

Mountain ranges

Panorama of some of the Snowdon Massif including Snowdon (centre right) taken from Mynydd Mawr. The Glyderau are visible in the distance.

Snowdonia may be divided into four areas:

  • The third area includes the Rhinogydd in the west as well as the Arenig and the Migneint (this last being an area of bog), and Rhobell Fawr. This area is not as popular with tourists as the other areas, due to its remoteness.
  • The southernmost area includes Cadair Idris, the Tarren range, the Dyfi hills, and the Aran group, including Aran Fawddwy, the highest mountain in the United Kingdom south of Snowdon.

Mountain walking

Southern edge. Waymarked path near Llyn Barfog in Gwynedd
Rain coming in over Llyn Cowlyd north of Capel Curig

Many of the hikers in the area concentrate on Snowdon itself. It is regarded as a fine mountain, but can become quite crowded, particularly with the Snowdon Mountain Railway running to the summit.[8]

The other high mountains with their boulder-strewn summits—as well as Tryfan, one of the few mountains in the UK south of Scotland whose ascent needs hands as well as feet—are also very popular. However, there are also some spectacular walks in Snowdonia on the lower mountains, and they tend to be relatively unfrequented. Among hikers' favourites are Y Garn (east of Llanberis) along the ridge to Elidir Fawr; Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd (west of Snowdon) along the Nantlle Ridge to Mynydd Drws-y-Coed; Moelwyn Mawr (west of Blaenau Ffestiniog); and Pen Llithrig y Wrach north of Capel Curig. Further south are Y Llethr in the Rhinogydd, and Cadair Idris near Dolgellau.

The Park has 1,479 miles (2,380 km) of public footpaths, 164 miles (264 km) of public bridleways, and 46 miles (74 km) of other public rights of way.[9] A large part of the Park is also covered by Right to Roam laws.

Nature, landscape and the environment

The Park's entire coastline is a Special Area of Conservation, which runs from the Llŷn Peninsula down the mid-Wales coast, the latter containing valuable sand dune systems.

Disused quarry near Llanberis in the foothills of the Glyderau

The Park's natural forests are of the mixed deciduous type, the commonest tree being the Welsh Oak. Birch, ash, mountain-ash and hazel are also common. The Park also contains some large (planted) coniferous forested areas such as Gwydir Forest near Betws-y-Coed, although some areas, once harvested, are now increasingly being allowed to regrow naturally.

The Gwydir Forest lies in an elevated position, and offers views towards the Glyderau and the Carneddau ranges.

Northern Snowdonia is the only place in Britain where the Snowdon Lily, an arctic-alpine plant, and the rainbow-coloured Snowdon beetle (Chrysolina cerealis) are found, and the only place in the world where the Snowdonia hawkweed Hieracium snowdoniense grows.

A large proportion of the Park is today under designation (or under consideration for designation) as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves, Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Biosphere and Ramsar sites.

One of the major problems facing the Park in recent years has been the growth of Rhododendron ponticum.[10] This fast-growing invasive species has a tendency to take over and stifle native species. It can form massive towering growths and has a companion fungus that grows on its roots producing toxins that are poisonous to any local flora and fauna for a seven-year period after the Rhododendron infestations have been eradicated. As a result there are a number of desolate landscapes.

Rare mammals in the park include Otters, Polecats, and Feral goat, although the Pine Marten has not been seen for many years.[11] Rare birds include Raven, Peregrine, osprey, Merlin and possibly Red Kite.

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Climate

Snowdonia is one of the wettest parts of the British Isles; Crib Goch in Snowdonia is the wettest spot in the United Kingdom, with an average rainfall of 4,473 millimetres (176.1 in) a year over the past 30 years.[12][13]

References

  1. ^ Ifor Williams, Enwau Lleoedd (Liverpool, 1945), p.18. Compare the late professor's article in Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, vol. iv, pp. 137-41. The plural of Welsh eryr (eagle) is eryrod or eryron, with no example of a form eryri being attested. A second word eryr, plural eryri, means "shingles" in modern Welsh; in the old Welsh place name this suggests uneven or upraised ground, a land of hills; "the uplands" or "highlands"
  2. ^ Culliford, Alison (24 July 1999). "National Parks - The complete guide to Britain's national parks". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/travel-national-parks--the-complete-guide-to-britains-national-parks-1108194.html. 
  3. ^ "Our national parks". MSN. http://estb.msn.com/i/26/9D3386135C8A465B0C44431A53D2F.swf. 
  4. ^ Thomas, Helen (28 October 2001). "Make the most of Snowdonia". The Independent. 
  5. ^ "The Welsh Language". Snowdonia National Park Authority. http://www.eryri-npa.co.uk/page/index.php?nav1=learning&nav2=2&nav3=13&lang=eng&contrast=1&view=graphic. 
  6. ^ Park Profile 2007. Snowdonia National Park Authority.
  7. ^ Walkey, Mike; Swingland, Ian Richard; Russell, Shaun (1999). Integrated protected area management. Springer. pp. 91. ISBN 978-0412803604. 
  8. ^ Parker, Mike; Whitfield, Paul (2003). The Rough Guide to Wales (4 ed.). Rough Guides. pp. 385. ISBN 978-1843531203. 
  9. ^ "Walks for region - Snowdonia Mountains and Coast". Walking in North Wales. http://www.walkingnorthwales.co.uk/home.php?walks_by_region;rid=11. 
  10. ^ "Important plant areas in the UK". The Daily Telegraph. 24 July 2007. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/3301402/Important-Plant-Areas-in-the-UK.html. 
  11. ^ Turner, Robin (3 August 2009). "If you go down to the woods today you might find an endangered pine marten". WalesOnline. http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2009/08/03/if-you-go-down-to-the-woods-today-you-might-find-an-endangered-pine-marten-91466-24300490/. 
  12. ^ Clark, Ross (28 October 2006). "The wetter, the better". The Independent. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/3354276/The-wetter-the-better.html. 
  13. ^ Philip, Catherine (28 July 2005). "40 die as one year's rain falls in a day". The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article548749.ece. 

External links

Snowdon at sunrise, across Llyn Y Dywarchen


Coordinates: 52°54′N 3°51′W / 52.9°N 3.85°W / 52.9; -3.85


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Britain and Ireland : United Kingdom : Wales : North Wales : Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park [1], Eryri in Welsh, is like a little slice of the Alps tucked above the rolling moors and hills of North Wales.

Snowdonia
Snowdonia

Understand

Lakes, castles, waterfalls, and steam railways create a surreal experience right out of Lord of the Rings. Local signs are often both English and Welsh and many aspects of traditional Welsh life, including food, clothing, and crafts, are still to be found.

The region is very popular for hiking, mountaineering, white-water kayaking, and other outdoor pursuits. It features Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales at 1,085 m (3,560 feet).

History

Snowdonia National Park was established in 1951 as the third national park in the UK, and the first in Wales. It covers 2,142 km² (840 square miles, 217'000 hectares) of the Snowdonia region of north-western Wales. It is also an area steeped in history and legend as the natural fortress for the Princes of Gwynedd and for Llewellyn, the last true Prince of Wales

Landscape

Dominated by Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park is to Wales what the Lake District is to England. An area of outstanding natural beauty, this National Park is set in northern Wales and visitors can paddle their feet on a sandy beach in the morning and be sitting atop the highest peak in England and Wales that same day.

Lakes are almost as much of a feature of Snowdonia as the peaks, so much so that several hydro-electric schemes have been built to harness the potential energy stored within them (See Dinorwig Power Station in the Do section). The water sports that feature so prominently in this region are fed from the high rainfall in the park and this in turn feeds into the rivers and lakes. Much of this water is exported to England; Liverpool's water comes from here.

Much of the world's slate comes from this region and the landscape is dotted with the scars of slate pits, some of which are still active today. The casual walker needs only bend down and pick up a handful of shale to see where much of the local industry came from.

The mountain Y Garn which begins the Nantlle ridge is reflected in the calm waters of Llyn y Dywarchen
The mountain Y Garn which begins the Nantlle ridge is reflected in the calm waters of Llyn y Dywarchen
  • Snowdon Group - Consisting of Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), Crib y Ddysgl, Crib Goch and Y Lliwedd.
  • Glyders and Tryfan - The two Glyders (Fach and Fawr) and Tryfan are the most spectacular but the group also includes Y Garn and Elidyr Fawr.
  • Carnedds - the most northern group including Carnedd Llewellyn, Carnedd Dafydd, Pen yr Olewen, Yr Elen.
  • Moelwyns - a lower group near Blaenau Ffestiniog. Cnicht, sometimes described as 'the Welsh Matterhorn' because of its shape (in spite of its lack of height) is often included.
  • Rhinogs - spectacular heather growth makes for some hard walking - inland from Harlech.
  • Nantlle Ridge and Moel Hebog - to the far west and separating Snowdonia from Lleyn.
  • Cadair Idris and the Tarrens - in the southern end of the National Park. South of Dolgellau and inland from Tywyn. Softer and greener than some of the northern ranges.

Flora and fauna

Snowdonia National Park is an ornithologists paradise with buzzards, ospreys, choughs, peregrines, thrushes, blackbirds, robins, wrens, tits, finches, owls, cuckoos, jays.... you get the idea. Perhaps suprisingly, there is only one RSPB [2] reserve actually located within the National Park — at Mawddach Woodlands, on the beautiful Mawddach estuary between Dolgellau and Barmouth.

The Snowdon lily (lloydia serotina), as the names suggests, is only found in Snowdonia National Park, where it is a rare and protected species. Populations are small and currently make up six different locations, each with small numbers. Distant cousins of this species can be found in Europe. This species is undergoing a biodiversity action plan in order to spread awareness of its importance to this region of Wales.

Another species unique to Snowdonia is the Gwyniad (Coregonus pennantii), a freshwater fish of the salmon family. The Gwyniad is native only to Bala Lake and until recently existed nowhere else in the World. A project to introduce it to another nearby lake has recently been undertaken, to mitigate the risk of its extinction should some tragedy (pollution or similar) befall Bala Lake. The deep waters of the lake are also said to be home to Tegi, Bala's answer to the Loch Ness Monster. Visitors can make up their own minds as to the likelihood of her existence.

The critically endangered Freshwater pearl mussel is another important freshwater species which makes its home in the area.

Mammals including bats, red squirrels, badgers, weasels and polecats may also be glimpsed in this region, while seals, porpoises, dolphins, and even the occasional turtle can be spotted offshore.

Climate

Due to the topology, Snowdonia gets its fair share of rain and then some. Even if it is not raining on the tops, they are often shrouded in mist or cloud. Care should be taken when walking them (see Stay Safe).

Get in

By train

Mainline train services in North Wales are run by Arriva Trains Wales [3].

  • The Conwy Valley Line stretches from Llandudno Junction along the Conwy Valley to Betws y Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog, and connects with trains on both the North Wales Coast line and the Ffestiniog Railway.
  • Regular ferry services operate between Holyhead and Ireland, (Dublin and Dun Laoghaire), and is provided by two carriers. Stenaline[5] and Irish Ferries[6] both offer multiple daily service between the two ports for passengers and vehicles. Bookings can be made through their respective websites.

By plane

An air service connecting RAF Valley in Anglesey to Cardiff International Airport in South Wales has recently opened charging £50 each way, and the journey takes about an hour. For flights from other destinations Manchester and Liverpool airports, across the border in England are the closest bet, or Birmingham airport for the Cambrian Coast area.

By car

The main roads into Snowdonia are the A55 which runs along the north coast, connecting with the M56 and M53 near Chester, and the A5, which leaves the M54 at Shrewsbury and heads west to Betws y Coed and then north-west to Bangor

Fees/Permits

There are no fees for entering or leaving Snowdonia National Park.

Get around

By train

(See also Get in above for details of lines into and across North Wales)

  • The narrow-gauge Ffestiniog Railway connects the Cambrian Coast line at Porthmadog with the Conwy Valley line at Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Another narrow gauge line, the Welsh Highland Railway will connect Porthmadog to Caernarfon via Beddgelert but the last link is as yet unfinished (June 2009.)
  • Bws Gwynedd [7] operates a network of services throughout the National Park, covering almost every community. Some more remote areas have only a very sparse service.

By car

Even trunk roads in the area are generally single-carriageway, the exception being the A55 dual carriageway, which hugs the north coast. Even minor single-track roads are generally well surfaced and suitable for any road-worthy vehicle. As with all rural areas, allow for low average speeds when journey planning, even more so at the height of the tourist season when roads throughout the park can become very busy.

  • Llechwedd Slate Mines at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Multi-award winning attraction, and one of the most popular in North Wales. Two separate underground tours describing the lives of the 19th Century miners. Plenty to see on the surface too. It's all done very well - this is a great place to spend a half day.
  • Dinorwig Power Station at Llanberis [8] — Tours of this power station are, despite the somewhat outdated multimedia presentation at the beginning, a must see. A huge cavern was carved out of the mountain and six turbines installed which sit in tunnels between two lakes, one high up, the other at close to sea level. When Britain switches on the kettle during the advert break in Coronation Street, water is released from the upper lake and the most expensive electricity in Britain is generated to cope with demand. Later at night, when demand is low and electricity is cheaper, water is pumped back up to the top lake from the lower one. Wheelchairs are exceptionally well catered for and the cafe is not a bad place to stop in whilst waiting for the tour to begin.
A Talyllyn Railway train passing a level crossing near Brynglas Station
A Talyllyn Railway train passing a level crossing near Brynglas Station
  • Snowdon Mountain Railway [9], departs from Llanberis. This spectacular 4 mile, roughly 2.5 hour train journey climbs 3500 feet up Mount Snowdon and is the only rack-and-pinion railway in the UK, dating to 1896. Trains depart first at about 9AM. 30 minute stop at summit. Costs £21 roundtrip, discounted if first train of day is taken, or if you go one way. Open mid-March to October, several trains a day, more in summer.
  • Bala Lake Railway [10], Bala
  • Corris Railway [11], near Machynlleth
  • Ffestiniog Railway [12], runs from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog
  • Llanberis Lake Railway [13], Llanberis
  • Talyllyn Railway [14], Tywyn. The World's first heritage railway and inspiration for the Ealing comedy film The Titfield Thunderbolt. Features in the popular Railway Series of childrens books by Rev W Awdry as the "Skarloey Railway".
  • Welsh Highland Railway [15]. Due to reopen Easter 2009, connecting Porthmadog, Beddgelert and Caernarfon.

Castles

There are a number of castles in Snowdonia dating from the 12th and 13th centuries. They were constructed at the time of the battles by the Welsh Princes of Gwynedd to resist the rule of King John, and more significantly, King Edward I of England. Most of the castles are in the care of Cadw[16], the historic environment service of the Welsh Assembly Government. Most of the English-built castles forming the "Ring of Steel" around North Wales lie outside the National Park, as they were sited on the coast. The Welsh princes tended to stick to the mountain country where they hoped to hold the upper hand.

  • Castell y Bere - Last stronghold of the Welsh Princes, and their most impressive fortress. Stunning location in Bro Dysynni.
  • Dolbadarn - Welsh built castle situated between Llyn Peris and Llyn Padarn lakes, close to the town of Llanberis
  • Dolwyddelan - Welsh castle, in the village of the same name on the main A470 road between Betws-y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog. Reputed birthplace of Prince Llywelyn the Great. The Disney film Dragonslayer was filmed here.
  • Harlech - One of Edward I's "ring of steel". Looks menacingly across Tremadog Bay at the Welsh Criccieth Castle.
Snowdon
Snowdon

Snowdon

Wales' highest mountain and the highest in the UK south of Loch Lomond, Snowdon is also the most popular mountain in Wales, climbed by an estimated 500,000 people every year.

The most spectacular way up Snowdon is via the Crib Goch arete — not for the fainthearted, and not unless you know that the weather will hold up. If you descend via the Lliwedd ridge then you have done the Snowdon Horseshoe. Start and finish at Pen y Pass at the top of the Llanberis Pass on the Llanberis to Capel Curig road. Easier on the heart are the Pyg track and Miners track also starting from Pen y Pass. These are gentle at first before the big climb, and pass by the lakes that sit in the middle of the horseshoe.

Other routes include the Llanberis Path, which follows the train track and is rather boring; the Snowdon Ranger Path from the train station (Welsh Highland Railway) and youth hostel of the same name; the Rhyd Ddu path from the village of Rhyd Ddu (also served by WHR trains), and the Watkin Path from Nantgwynant, which starts at only 60m above sea level and therefore requires the largest gain in altitude, though fortunately there are several waterfalls along the path which are popular for cooling off in on hot days.

Of course you can also get the train to the top, but try to resist standing at the summit looking proud of your "achievement"!

The Glyderau

Looking like a giant fossilised Stegasaurus, Tryfan is said to be the only mountain in the country that cannot be climbed without using the arms. At the summit are two large standing rocks known as Adam and Eve, and you're supposed to jump between them to earn the freedom of the mountain. It's not a physically difficult jump, but you'll need a really good head for heights in order to attempt it.

Bristly Ridge links Tryfan to Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr, the main peaks of this range. Don't miss a great photo opportunity at the famous Cantilever on Glyder Fach.

Cadair Idris and the Tarrens

Walking on Cadair Idris
Walking on Cadair Idris

This range is to be found at the southern edge of the national park. The largest (892m/2927ft) and best known mountain is Cadair (sometimes spelt Cader) Idris, which is the 2nd most climbed mountain in Wales. The most popular and arguably, best route is the Minffordd Path which starts from the hamlet of the same name, near Talyllyn Lake. The mountain can also be climbed from the village of Llanfihangel y Pennant at the head of the Dysynni valley, and there are also a number of paths from the northern side, accessed from Dolgellau.

Legend has it that there are only 3 potential outcomes if you spend the night on Cadair Idris. Either you will die in the night, you will wake up insane, or you will wake up as a bard (poet). If you want to test this out then there are some excellent wild camping spots on the shores of Llyn (lake) Cau (accessed from Minffordd), or Llyn y Gadair on the Dolgellau side. Check out the article on Leave-no-trace camping before you go.

The lower Tarren range of hills between Tywyn and Abergynolwyn provide excellent walking, without the crowds that can sometimes be found on Cadair Idris. Ordnance Survey Explorer Map sheet OL23 Cadair Idris and Bala Lake is essential.

  • Outward Bound Aberdyfi (Outdoor Activity Centre), Aberdyfi, 01654 767464, [17]. Outward Bound was one of the first Outdoor Pursuits centres in the UK. They also have centres in Cumbria and Scotland, but Aberdyfi was where it all started. They offer courses for companies, schools, families and individuals.  edit
  • Plas y Brenin[18] - the National Mountain Centre, Capel Curig. 01690 720214. Offers courses in Hillwalking, Rock Climbing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Orienteering, Skiing and more. The centre has a pool, climbing walls, ropes course and a dry ski slope.
  • Kitesurf Wales, Aberdyfi, 01654 791342 (), [19]. Kite-surfing and kite-buggying equipment sales and tuition. Kite-surfing is one of the newest and most exhilarating board sports. Prices range from £25 for a taster session to £250 for a full 3-day course.  edit
  • AC Adventures [20]. 01654 711 389. Based in Tywyn and run by experienced adventurer Ross Ashe-Cregan. Offers tailored activity breaks, activities include climbing, gorge walking, mountain biking, navigation skills training and more.
  • Rock Climbing Company, 01492 641430, [21]. High quality climbing and scrambling courses in Snowdonia, North Wales with one of the Britain's best female climbers.  edit
  • Mountain Biking[22]. There are a number of marked trails in the Dyfi Valley Forest, centred around Machynlleth[23], including the purpose-built CliMachx route. Coed y Brenin Forest, near Dolgellau, has 6 waymarked trails, and Beddgelert and Betws y Coed also have trails in their surrounding forestry. The ascent of Cadair Idris from Llanfihangel y Pennant near Tywyn is classified as a bridleway, and therefore can be used by mountain bikes. It's a tough slog up (you'll be carrying in places), but the descent (from 892m at the summit to only a few metres above sea level in the valley) must rank as one of the finest in the country (not recommended for summer weekends due to the number of hikers).
  • Canolfan Tryweryn - The National Whitewater Centre[24], Frongoch, Bala. Tel: 01678 521083. White-water rafting and canoeing on the River Tryweryn. The flow of water in the river is governed by a dam controlling the flow of water from Llyn Celyn reservoir, meaning that conditions in the water are predictable - though this does not make the experience any less exhilarating once you are actually on the river!

Eat

As in the majority of the UK, the focus of most Snowdonia communities is the pub. Rare is the village pub that doesn't offer food, and many of these are very good quality. The Wales the True Taste [[25]] campaign has been very successful in promoting the use of local ingredients in recent years, and your waiter or chef will often be only too happy to tell you exactly where the lamb that provided your chop, the cow in your burger or the scallops in your fish pie grew up. Most pubs serve lunch from about 12.30 until 14.30, and dinner from around 17.30 to 20.00 or 21.00. Where the pub has a restaurant separate from the main bar they may serve later.

As well as the pub, most villages have at least one cafe or tearoom, opening from breakfast time until mid-afternoon. The main focus is usually on tea/coffee and "light bites", such as sandwiches and (usually homemade!) cakes, but in many cases there will be 1 or 2 more substantial hot dishes available at lunchtime.

Larger villages and towns will generally have at least a couple of take-away food shops. Traditional Fish'n'Chips is still the most popular, but you will find Chinese, Indian and Kebab shops springing up too.

Drink

As mentioned in #Eat, most villages and towns in Snowdonia have at least one pub. Generally, pubs in the area open from 11.00 or 12.00 and close at 23.00 or midnight. Some close for 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon but this is less common than in the past.

Nightclubs are few and far between in the area, with the exception of the more commercialised seaside resorts such as Barmouth. The University city of Bangor, just outside the park to the north, is the place to go for nightlife and (relatively) bright lights.

Sleep

Principal towns and villages within and around the National Park

All the places listed have a variety of accommodation.

Hostels

The Youth Hostels Association (YHA) [26] has a dozen hostels in, or close to, the National Park. Most of these are located in the northern part of the park, around Snowdon itself. Only Kings hostel, near Penmaenpool and Ffynonwen hostel, near Bala cover the southern or eastern areas of the park.

There are also numerous private hostels, especially in the popular outdoor activity centres such as Llanberis, Betws y Coed and Bala.

Camping

Snowdonia has a large number of campsites and finding a pitch is rarely a problem. Facilities range from the most basic with nothing more than a drinking water tap in the corner of a small field, up to plush "Holiday Parks" with electric hook-ups, laundry facilities, on-site restaurants and night-time entertainment. See the relevant town and village articles for listings.

Backcountry

Wild camping is possible but remember that in Snowdonia, like other UK National Parks, the vast majority of the land is in private ownership. Generally at low-level and/or in the busy tourist season, it's better to stick to "official" campsites. On higher ground, in less popular areas, or out of season, you're less likely to encounter any problems. Use your discretion as to what constitutes an appropriate site, and where possible gain the permission of the farmer or landowner. Please follow the guidelines in Leave-no-trace camping.

Stay safe

Snowdonia presents no exaggerated danger to personal safety on a social front. Locals are well-used to tourists and appear to tolerate them admirably given the heavy footfall.

The greatest personal threat comes from conditions on the peaks. These can turn at short notice, often from a clear warm day to heavy cold rain, the latter of which Wales has in a plentiful supply. It is therefore strongly advised that warm clothing and waterproofs are packed for the peaks along with a good supply of water and some food high in carbohydrates. Always carry a suitable map. The Ordnance Survey [27] 1:25000 scale Explorer series are ideal, covering the whole national park on 3 (double-sided) sheets. Alternatively the 1:50000 scale Landranger series, though these are less detailed due to the smaller scale. Harveys Maps [28] also produce excellent quality maps of the main mountain areas, specifically aimed at hillwalkers.

Some 70 people a year are injured seriously on Snowdon alone and around 10 lose their life. Accidents occur mostly on descent where fatigue and speed is greater. Follow the Mountain Safety Code to reduce your chances of becoming part of these statistics:

Before You Go

  • Learn the use of map and compass
  • Know the weather signs and local forecast
  • Plan within your capabilities
  • Know simple first aid and the symptoms of exposure
  • Know the mountain distress signals
  • Know the country code

When You Go

  • Never go alone
  • Leave written word of your route and report your return
  • Take windproofs, woollens and survival bag
  • Take map and compass, torch and food
  • Wear climbing boots
  • Keep alert all day
  • Avoid disturbance to farming, forestry and field sports

If There is Snow On The Hills

  • Always have an ice axe for each person
  • Carry a climbing rope and know the correct use of rope and ice axe
  • Learn to recognise dangerous snow slope
  • Lleyn is the tapering peninsula running westwards into the Irish Sea from the northern part of Snowdonia. A designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, its landscape is lower and less harsh than that of Snowdonia, but with spectacular sea-cliffs, quiet sandy coves, and rolling green hills, it has a lot to offer.
  • The island of Anglesey (Welsh: Ynys Môn) lies to to the north-west of Snowdonia, connected to the mainland by rail and road bridges. Most of the coastline is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while the hinterland is flat and extremely fertile. The Welsh expression Môn Mam Cymru, literally Anglesey, Mother of Wales indicates the importance of this farmland in keeping the whole country well-fed. As intended by those who named it, the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch is an unashamed tourist trap, if an irresistible photo opportunity (bring a wide angle lens!), while visitors on a romantic break should not miss the mercifully un-touristy Llanddwyn, home to Santes Dwynwen, Wales' answer to Saint Valentine.
  • Holyhead, on the far side of Anglesey, is the departure point for fast ferries to Dublin and Dún Laoghaire in Ireland.
This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information about the park including attractions, activities, lodging, campgrounds, restaurants, and arrival/departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!

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