Since 1998, Hafod y Llan has thrived under the management of the National Trust, who acquired this ambitious venture with the help of the Snowdonia Appeal, supported by the illustrious Sir Anthony Hopkins. Not content with its recognition as a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest, it is also a working farm. This 4,000-acre estate extends from the valley floor to the summit of Snowdon, and is a living, breathing piece of Wales's rural upland heritage.
As well as offering breathtaking vistas of Snowdonia and its majestic mountain ranges, this farm is particularly important to wildlife. Today, farming is practiced in an environmentally sensitive way, working with nature. The land is organically and sensitively grazed, which has helped to restore some of the native heather and scrub habitats of these mountains.
Every year, thousands of people visit this dramatic landscape. From the remains of Victorian tramlines that would have transported quarry workers, to archaeological sites and even a population of feral goats, there is plenty to explore. The area also has a campsite, ideally located for those wishing to walk up Snowdon via the Watkin path.
Feel free to follow the enchanting Hafod y Llan Farm Family Interest Trail, which begins at a bridge near the River Glaslyn, an important sight for spawning Salmon and Brown Trout. Further along, the River Glaslyn is met by Afon y Llan, which tumbles down from the pinnacles of Snowdon. The bend in the river is a perfect place to look for tadpoles in the spring. During your walk, you may observe the dry stone walls and traditional farm buildings that characterise the valley floor. Lower slopes typically comprise woodland and rocky outcrops, whilst the upper slopes have cliffs, screes, mines and quarries.
As you amble along the trail, there are a rich variety of plants and animals to discover. These include the Common Otter and Weasel; along with various bird species such as the Peregrine, Grey Wagtail and Chough, as well as Heron and Dipper, often spotted beside the riverbank. Notably the area is also home to the Heath Fritillary, a rare Butterfly, and the Lesser Horseshoe Bat. During spring/summer, the ground flora is vibrant with Harebells, sweet smelling Bluebells and Heath Spotted Orchids.
The farm breeds traditional Welsh mountain sheep and has recently re-introduced pedigree Welsh Black Cattle, who are well suited to the area and thrive in the harsh mountain conditions. Cattle graze less selectively than sheep and keep the aggressive grasses such as purple moor grass and matgrass under control, which increases the biodiversity of the land.
There is an adequate car park located next to the Hafod y Llan Campsite; as well as a nearby car park at Bethania (just off the A498), which joins the Watkin Path.