Exploring Snowdonia National Park feels in many ways like having been transported to another world; where clouds roll between high peaks and water shimmers in mountain tarns, cotton sways in the breeze on prairies and waves crash into rocky shores. Yet only an hour and a half from Liverpool or two hours from Manchester, Wale’s largest National Park is certainly not a world away from civilisation. Indeed, on a sunny Saturday in July it can be crowded with people, while on a Tuesday in November you’ll have the mountains all to yourselves. Regardless, it’s not hard to find a quiet corner in a forest to escape it all - Snowdonia has 2000km of greenery and coastline to be explored.
Probably most famous for Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales at 1,085m, Snowdonia National Park actually has over 90 peaks, 100 lakes and 200 miles of coastline. Activities include hiking, climbing, canyoning and mountain biking, while surfing, wake-boarding, sailing and paddle-boarding can be enjoyed on the coast. Villages like Beddgelert and Betws-y-Coed are iconic and picturesque, while the beautiful scenery of the Ogwen Valley and dramatic features of places like Devil's Kitchen are what make Snowdonia be considered so epic.
With mountain peaks, rich green forest and a picture perfect coastline, it would take much more than a few days in Snowdonia National Park to experience it all. Our guide will help you make the most of your trip to this beautiful Welsh corner of the U.K.
A glittering tarn nestled amidst the craggy peaks of an area known as Devil's Kitchen, beneath the hills of Y Garn and Glyder Fawr. At the northern edge there is a small beach area - the perfect place to stop, sit down, take off your boots and watch sparkling water lapping against the shoreline. Probably one of the most serene and beautiful places in Snowdonia National Park.
Getting there: Park in the pay & display carpark at Ogwen Cottage, just off the A5. There is also plenty of free parking in lay-bys along the road beside Llyn Ogwen.
Hike: From Ogwen Cottage, follow an easy path for less than a kilometre to reach the tarn. Alternatively, link with longer walks to Y Garn, Glyder Fach or Glyder Fawr. Find more information from the National Trust here.
Snowdon via Pyg Track & Miners Track
The highest peak in England and Wales, and one of the UK’s renowned Three Peaks, Mount Snowdon sits at 1,085m and is one of the most popular destinations in the National Park. With six possible paths you can take to the summit, we’d recommend starting early and taking the Pyg Track there and Miners Track back. A route that takes you past the glistening lakes of Llyn Llydaw and heart-shaped Glaslyn, before the final strenuous ascent to the summit. The Snowdon summit offers a 360 degree eagle eye’s view of the Welsh Coastline and surrounding mountain ranges - a highlight of Snowdonia National Park.
Getting there: This route begins from the carpark at Pen-y-Pass. The carpark fills up early in the summer (sometimes before 7am on a weekend), so alternatively you can park roadside at Pen-y-Gwrd (A498), from where there is a 3 miles off-road track to Pen-y-Pass. Loose change required, not accepting the new pound coin (visited May 2017).
Hike: This is a hard mountain walk. The whole route is around 7 miles and takes between 4 and 6 hours. Use OS Explorer Map OL17.
Gear: We’d recommend walking boots and bringing plenty of water, food and warm clothing. There is a cafe at the summit serving drinks and snacks.
Stay: There is a Youth Hostel at Pen-y-Pass open all year. There are also a number of surrounding campsites. We’d recommend Nant Gwynant campsite for the great facilities or the R. O. Jones & Sons campsite at the edge of Llynau Mymbyr for the idyllic location.
Food & drink: The YHA Youth Hostel at Pen-y-Pass serves drinks and food, however we’d highly recommend Moel Siabod just a ten minute drive away for the hearty post-hike meals and atmosphere.
The little village of Llanberis is a great place to stop for a bite to eat during a day in the National Park. Pete’s Eats serves excellent burgers and an array of hearty post-hike meals. Visit Georgio’s on a hot, summers day for creamy Italian ice cream, or have a barista-style coffee and slice of cake in the garden at Pantri. Then sit by the lake and take in the beautiful mountain views. A wonderfully Welsh, idyllic mountain village in the heart of Snowdonia National Park.
Getting there: Llanberis is situated on the A4086.
Views from the summit of Y Garn are arguably some of the best of any hill climb in the whole of Snowdonia National Park, looking down onto Llyn Idwal, Llyn Ogwen and the mountainous layers of the Ogwen Valley. The route takes you first past the craggy shores of Llyn Idwal, nestled within the beautiful glacial amphitheatre of Cwm Idwal, then you can ascend through Devil's Kitchen (which is definitely quite a scramble!), or up the north east ridge to Y Garn. This walk is highly recommended as a beautiful but strenuous half-day walk, taking in the breathtaking scenes of the Ogwen Valley.
Hike: The hike is 4.5 miles and is a strenuous hill walk. Use OS Explorer Map OL17. Find further route details here.
Gear: Wear walking boots due to the scrambly sections. Bring a warm, windproof jacket for the summit.
Food & drink: We'd recommend heading to Moel Siabod after the walk for a hearty meal, or nearby Bethesda has plenty of pubs and restaurants. you can buy snacks ad drinks from the Visitor Centre at Ogwen Cottage, at the start/finish of the hike.
Llyn Crafnant Lakeside Cafe
The Llyn Crafnant Lakeside Cafe is located on the banks of Llyn Crafnant and serves light meals such as toasted sandwiches, homemade soup and jacket potatoes, a range of delicious and generously portioned homemade cakes, and a selection of teas and coffee. Enjoy an easy ramble around the lake before settling in at the cafe’s gardens, looking out onto the gently lapping waters and surrounding forest-ladened hills. One of the most beautiful locations to spend a lazy afternoon in Snowdonia National Park.
Getting there: Head north from Betws-y-Coed on the B5106 before taking Crafnant Road from Trefriw to the reservoir. There is a carpark at the northern end of the reservoir or a few spaces directly at the cafe itself.
Walk: Link a visit to the cafe with a 2.5 mile walk around Llyn Crafnant, starting from the carpark at the northern end of the lake. Find details of the trail here.
Located in the wilds of the Carneddau mountain range, Dulyn Bothy is an idyllic little mountain hut nestled beneath towering peaks and surrounded by thick moorland born with winding streams, wild horses and grazing sheep. It is a relatively large bothy that could fit 10-15 people at a push, with two rooms, a log-burner, tables, chairs and a selection of pots and pans. Originally a worker’s hut for people working at the reservoir, today the bothy is maintained by MBA volunteers and is an ideal place to spend the night on cold winter nights, or sit outside with friends and a fire in the summertime. Take a dip in the reservoir in the morning or link with a walk along the Carneddau ridge if the weather is fine.
Getting there: From the village of Tal-y-bont, take a road to the left leading to Llanbedr-y-cennin. Follow the road uphill before taking another road on the left. There is a small carpark at the end of the road. Use OS Explorer Map OL17 and a compass to reach the bothy.
Food & drink: Take food to cook your dinner and breakfast at the bothy. Visit the Ye Olde Bull Inn pub in Llanbedr-y-cennin on your return or head into Betws-y-Coed for breakfast or lunch at the Alpine Coffee Shop.
Gear: For staying in a bothy, you will need the usual camping essentials; sleeping mat and bag, warm clothes, head-torch, etc. You may also wish to carry in coal for the log-burner, though there was wood when we visited. We’d recommend taking a tent in case the bothy is full, especially during the busier summer months. There is water available from a small stream just below the bothy. Some may wish to take a water filter or carry in fresh water.
Respect the Bothy Code.