Snowdonia, North Wales


Mount Snowdon, the Snowdon National Park, Cader Idris and the surrounding area

 snowdon map


                               detail of Snowdonia                         where is Snowdonia in Wales?


                                    Snowdon  Mountain scenery    Snowdonia in winter  Llyn Ogwyn
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                             Lake Gwnant, Snowdonia                                  Mount   Snowdon
                                                                               Views in Snowdonia

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                                                                                              Cader Idris
harlech castle The rich man in his castle (here Harlech Castle)

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and the poor man in his home (Welsh stone and Welsh slate) snowdonia house

Now here is an extensive Gazetteer of most of the places to visit in Snowdonia, North Wales

Bala Lake

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Lake Bala, on the edge of Snowdonia, is 4.5 miles long and about a mile wide - it is the largest natural lake in Wales. The small town of Bala at the northern end of the lake is an excellent fishing and sailing centre

In the depths of the Lake live the rare white scaled Salmon - gwyniad. The lurk 80 feet down in the lake, and can only be caught by net.Snowdonia has some rare things to offer

As most places in Wales, Bala has a colourful Welsh history - there is the legend of a lost palace beneath the lake. Also the Welsh emigrants to Patagonia in Chile in 1865, came mainly from the Bala area - even today there are still Welsh speaking people in Chile, descended from these original emigrants. In the Andes instead of Snowdonia

Bangor Bangor is the cathedral and university city of North Wales. The city dates from a monastery in the sixth century which had a protective fence or "bangor" round it. It is only about 15 miles from Mount Snowdon, so an easy drive to see Snowdon from here.

The present cathedral is 19th century, but is on the site of the much older monk's church. Bangor Cathedral was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott - who also designed among other things, the Albert Memorial.

A mile to the east is Penrhyn Castle, now owned by the National Trust. The first castle here was built in the 12th century - a lot of Snowdon's castle were built then- but the present building was erected between 1827 and 1840 in a neo Gothic style and has a seven mile perimeter wall

Barmouth Where the mountains of Snowdonia sweep down to the sea!

A seaside resort dating from Victorian times, developed because of the 2 miles of sandy beaches. The cliffs just outside Barmouth were the first property that the National Trust acquired in 1895 - in Britain, not just in Wales. Just to the east of the town, a spectacular walk (the Panorama Walk), branches off to the north of the main road, and follows a series of terraces upwards, with views over the estuary. Snowdonia behind you, and the sea in front.

Beddgelert A small village, 10 miles inland from Caernarfon, where three valleys meet. It is close to the Beddgelert Forest, and Snowdonia towers above. There is a forest trail and a route up to Aberglasyn Pass, with view over the Glaslyn, a mountain torrent. Park you car near the bridge
Bethesda 6 miles inland from Bangor on the A5. North Wales has been a synonym for slate, and Bethesda is a synonym for Welsh slate. Apart from the 1000 ft deep slate quarries deep into the Snowdonia mountains, it is the starting point for the climb to Nant Ffracon Pass. A road with splendid views over the Snowdon Mountains, running between the peaks of Carnedd Dafydd and Glyders.

At the head of the pass is Llyn Ogwyn - a breathtaking Snowdon mountain pass

Betws-y-coed A popular Welsh tourist village that stands at the junction of three of Snowdonia's  rivers and their valleys.

It's name means "chapel in the wood" and indeed it is surrounded by the Gwydyr Forest. It is  deservedly known as a walking centre for Snowdonia - the Swallow Falls and the Fairy Glen are each about 2 miles walk from the town

Blaenau Ffestiniog The heart of the slate quarrying country in Snowdonia. The blue slate crags loom over the town on all sides - and there are a number of working quarries that you can visit. Snowdon is not all slate, but you might think so after seeing this

Grand walking and fishing country, with over a dozen lakes in walking distance of the town. A path a mile to the south west, from Tanygriseau takes you to waterfalls near Lake Cwmorthin.- some of Snowdonia's prettiest

From Ffestiniog, 2.5 miles to the south is also a good walking centre, try the 200 foot high Rheaadr-y-Cwm waterfall 3 miles east of  the town

And there is the 13.5 miles of narrow gauge Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog (on the coast) which was built to carry out the slate from the quarries of Snowdonia, but is now used for passengers to view the spectacular scenery of Snowdonia

Cader Idris A little south of Mount Snowdon,  Cader Idris   ("Arthur's Chair" in English) is 2927 feet high. There are a number of routes to the top, the easiest being from Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, 3.5 miles south west of the summit of Cader Idris

Not a mountain for beginners to attempt - there is a legend that anyone who sleeps the night on the summit will wake up blind, mad or a poet - I suppose it depends if you really want to be a poet and are prepared to take the chance. Snowdonia has much to offer!

Caernarfon On the northern edge of Snowdonia, this historically important town is on the Menai Straits, which separate Anglesey from North Wales. The wonderfully preserved castle dominates the town. Edward I was born in the castle in 1284. And in this century, both the Duke of Windsor in 1911 and Prince Charles in 1969, were invested as Princes of Wales in the Castle

Perhaps it owes its preservation to the fact that it was a Cromwellian stronghold during the Civil War

Capel Curig Another of the mountain villages tucked under Snowdon. A mountaineering centre, with also a National Nature Reserve and trout fishing in Lake Mymbyr
Dolwyddelan A village on Snowdon's spectacular winding road from Blaenau Ffestioniog to Betws-y-Coed. Just west of the village is the 12th century castle, the birthplace of Llewelyn the Great, which finally fell to the English King in 1283

There are a number of good walks from the village into the surrounding foothills of Snowdon

Dongellau South west of Snowdon, a picturesque town at the head of a long estuary. The buildings are mainly of local slate. There are a number of excellent walks ranging in strenuousness - the Precipice Walk circles a high ridge just north of the town. The Torrent Walk follows the River Clywedog for about a mile up a valley. There are other walks that will give you better views of Cader Idris in the distance
Harlech The vast castle built by Edward I in 1283, to help him rule Wales. It dominates the plain below. Again lots of history associated with the castle - Owen Glendower's wife was taken prisoner here by Henry V. And of course there is the song, "Men of Harlech", written to commemorate the bravery of the defence of the castle during the Wars of the Roses. It was the last castle in the country to be held by the Royalists during the Civil War. Contrast Caernarfon held by the Cromwellians - not all of Snowdonia, let alone Wales was no the same side

Today it is very peaceful, and there are spectacular views out to sea and to the Lleyn Peninsula

Llynberis The starting point of the easy way up Snowdon - the railway. It is also the starting point of the easiest path up Mount Snowdon

A narrow gauge railway also runs along the shore of Lake Padarn, which gives spectacular views of Snowdon

Llyn Ogwen In the heart of Snowdonia, approached via the Nant Ffrancon Pass from Bethesda, it is a shallow lake about a mile long.  Legend links it with Arthur - and is (perhaps) where Sir Belvidere may have thrown Excalibur. Like many Celtic cultures, Wales claims Arthur as their own

In Snowdonia's winter the shallow waters freeze over, in a wonderland setting

Llan Gwanant The Pen-y-Gwryd pub, 6 miles north east of Beddgelert, is the base for visiting Nantgwynant and Llan Gwynant. This pub was the training base for Sir John Hunt's team that was the first to climb Everest in 1953. Climbing on Snowdon is a good limber up for Everest

The waymarked walk from the road to Llan Gwynant takes about an hour

Llanwryst An old market town in the Conway Valley, due east of Mount Snowdon. A fine stone bridge , said to be designed by Indigo Jones, crosses the river
Portmeirion Portmeirion is perhaps the last place you would expect to see in Wales, surrounded by Snowdon and the Welsh Mountains

Built in 1926 by Clough Williams Ellis, a showpiece village based on Portofino in Italy. Williams-Ellis built a hotel, planted trees, erected many architectural fantasies including an Italian campanile, lighthouse and castle. There are splendid gardens full of exotic plants.

The village has been used for filming - The Prisoner. And Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit there


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Snowdon is not the highest mountain in Britain, it can claim to be the most spectacular. There are lots of walks up to the summit of Snowdon from villages all round the mountain, ranging from brisk walks to full climbing routes with crampons. Mind you for the less energetic, there is always the train from Llanberis to Snowdon's summit. It is a rack and pinoin railway that mounts gradients as steep as 1 in 5, as it wends its way 5 miles up to the top of  Snowdon

As for walks, the easiest route up Snowdon follows a track alongside the rack and pinion railway from Llanberis. Then from the top of Llanberis Pass, three other routes fan out, the easiest is the miners track ( the name dating from Snowdon,s miners needing to get to work) which climbs from the shore of Llyn Llydaw. The Pig Track from there is harder and the third route, over Crib Goch, is not for the inexperienced - Snowdon is not just a big pussy cat.

On the west of Snowdon, two tracks are worth mention. Beddgelert Track which starts 2 miles north of the village, is the harder of the two. The easier is the Snowdon Ranger Path starting from the shore of Llyn Cwellyn

The experienced climber might consider the Watkin Path from Nantgwynant on the south side of Snowdon. You need proper climbing gear for this ascent of Mount Snowdon

.above - two ways to climb Snowdon
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Snowdonia National Park - visit Mount Snowdon in North Wales