High Life – Our National Park
It’s guaranteed. Snowdonia’s National Park is one of the biggest in Britain. It’s certainly the loftiest, with Snowdon – Yr Wyddfa in Welsh – capping it all at 3,560ft, the highest you can go in Wales and England. The Park covers a whopping 823 square miles from the north coast all the way down to the Dyfi Estuary near Machynlleth. That’s more or less all of North-west Wales with a huge chunk of Mid Wales thrown in. We aren’t finished yet, for bordering the Park are the peaceful heather moors, forests and lakes of Hiraethog, the ‘Hills of Great Longing’.
Join the 3,000 Club
We have 14 (or possibly 15 – mountain accountants can’t agree) peaks over 3,000ft. You might have heard of some. Triangular Tryfan, a famous landmark in the Ogwen Valley and part of the Y Glyderau stretch from Mynydd Llandegai to Capel Curig, offers some of the best scrambling – and views – in Britain. Other dominant features include Y Carneddau, which includes the largest continuous area of high ground over 2,500ft in Wales and England.
2,000 and counting
We’ve given up counting the peaks above 2,000ft. There are just too many – Cader Idris in the south, for example, rears up from the shores of the beautiful Mawddach Estuary, only running out of steam at 2,927ft. The Moelwynion range (2,527ft) flanking the Vale of Ffestiniog and the Arans (2,970ft) above the lake of Llyn Tegid are big and bold too. But if you want to explore the last true wilderness in Southern Britain then head west to the remote, road-less Rhinogydd plateau, its 2,475ft summit lost amongst the rocks and heather.
Six of the best
The six official routes up Yr Wyddfa all offer sensational walking. They’re all around the same length (about eight miles there and back) so take your pick from the Llanberis Path, Miners’ Path, Pyg Track, Watkin Path, Rhyd Ddu Path and Snowdon Ranger. The six-hour there-and-back Llanberis Path is the most gradual. It’s no pushover, mind. You’ll climb 3,200ft. See our website for full details.
Room at the top
Hafod Eryri is the stunning visitor centre on the summit of Yr Wyddfa, constructed of local oak and granite with a glass ‘window on the world’. Clear-day views are suitably sensational. When it’s misty, cheer yourself up with a nice cup of tea and a welshcake.
What’s cooking in Devil’s Kitchen?
Find out by walking up into the dark, glacial landscapes of Cwm Idwal. A three-mile there-and-back path takes you from the shores of Llyn Ogwen to Llyn Idwal, a mountain lake shaded by the crags of Twll Ddu (‘Black Hole’), otherwise known as Devil’s Kitchen. For light relief look out for the delicate Snowdon lily, a rare arctic-alpine plant.
Snowdon Sherpa bus service
Go the green way and ditch the car. The hop-on, hop-off Snowdon Sherpa bus service runs on a properly joined-up network tailor-made for walkers and sightseers.
Here’s another green idea. Catch the scenic Cambrian Coast line from Machynlleth to Pwllheli. Get off at one of the many Cambrian Trailways along the way. These self-guided linear walks take in spectacular coastal and mountain scenery – the hills between Aberdyfi and Tywyn, for example, or across the lovely Mawddach Estuary on the footpath that’s part of the famous railway bridge from Llwyngwril to Abermaw (the Welsh name for Barmouth). All details on the website, plus information on ‘Seaside Strolls’, beaches, pubs, attractions and golf.
The largest, naturally
Bala’s 4½ mile-Llyn Tegid is the largest natural lake in Wales. The best way to see it? It has to be a trip along the south shore on the steam-powered narrow-gauge Bala Lake Railway. We have many other lakes, natural and man-made – the secretive waters of Llyn Geirionydd and Llyn Crafnant, for example, hidden from view in the Gwydyr Forest above Llanrwst.
‘Enjoy Snowdonia’ apps
Maps and information on walking, activities and attractions help you get the most out of your visit. Get the latest Apps from the Snowdonia National Park website.
Mountains are great to look at – but they can be dangerous places. For safety advice on the move visit www.llanberismountainrescue.co.uk or download the latest app.