Where: North Wales, Great Britain
Activities: See lakes of King Arthur legend, climb Wales’s highest mountain, take a steam train journey, or attend a rollicking Welsh culture festival
Remember to bring: Layers of clothing, waterproofs, and shoes with a good tread
Snowdonia, or Eyri as the Welsh call it, is the second largest National Park in England and Wales after the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. Over 25,000 people live within the park and Welsh is the first language for most of them. With mountains, beaches, forests and moorlands in its 823 square miles, Snowdonia offers a greater variety of landscapes in a small area than anywhere else in Britain.
Snowdonia is best known for its mountain range and the park takes its name from Mount Snowden, the highest Mountain in England and Wales at a mere 3,558 feet, which offers great climbing opportunities. 350,000 visitors reach the summit of Snowdon every year.
Eyri means ‘place of eagles,’ and the park is a haven for all sorts of wildlife including many rare species. The Snowdon lilly and rainbow-coloured Snowden beetle can only be found in this area.
There is a wealth of history and legends associated with Snowdonia. That stories of the mythological King Arthur have survived here tells you that it hasn’t changed much since the time the Romans came 2000 years ago. It was the natural fortress for Llywelyn, the last true Prince of Wales. It is also said to be the area where Merlin discovered a red dragon which became the national symbol of Wales.
Popular Mount Snowden climbing routes:
Snowden Ranger path
This is one of the easiest and probably one of the earliest routes up Mount Snowden. A public footpath sign by the Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel on the A4085 on the northern shore of Llyn Cwellyn marks the beginning of the trail.
This is the most popular of the tourist routes up Snowdon and also the longest. In summer it is one of the easiest paths but in winter the upper reaches of the path can be very treacherous. The path starts at the end of the first side road above the Snowdon Railway Station just outside Llanberis. The junction is clearly marked with a signpost which is marked ‘footpath up Snowdon’.
This is one of the most rugged and challenging routes up Snowdon. In winter especially this route is best left to experienced climbers. The path starts at the western end of thePen y Pass car park.
Horseshoe route (featured on Globe Trekker)
The Horseshoe is a very exciting route up and is classified as a scramble in which hands are required and a lot of nerve as the route is riddled with steep drops.
Cantilever – a spectacular huge rock balanced on another rock at right angles.
Castles in the Wind – an excessively tall and thin rock making a great photo opportunity with Snowdon ahead of you and Mount Crobgoch behind.
Crobgoch Ridge – take care on this long ridge with a 45 degree drop to one side and a complete vertical drop to the other. This challenging scramble offers beautiful views with Mount Snowdon behind and lakes in the background.
Llyn Glaslyn – this lake is associated with a haunting Arthurian legend. King Arthur was thought to have died and is sword was thrown into this lake. The arm of a lady reached out and caught the sword before a boat carrying three queens robed in black. Arthur was supposedly laid out on the velvet of their laps before they sailed away into the darkness. In silence, the King’s followers climbed up the steep cliffs of Lliwedd and disappeared, one by one, inside a dark crevice in the rock face. Fifteen hundred years later the knights are still waiting. Fully armed, the warriors sleep in chain mail, their arms resting on leather shields. Behind them the cavern walls glint with veins of precious minerals. At the entrance of the cave hangs a golden bell, ready to waken the sleepers. In their country’s greatest crisis their leader will return, then King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table will ride to battle again.
If you are going to climb any of the paths in the mountains you must make sure you are fully prepared:
– Plan your route in advance and give the details to a responsible person at your lodgings.
– Check the weather forecast by calling MOUNTAIN CALL SNOWDONIA on telephone: 09068 500 449.
– Wear several layers of clothing including warm, wind, and waterproof clothing.
– Wear strong footwear with a good tread.
– Take a map and compass with you and know how to use them.
Other things to see and do in Snowdonia National Park:
Snowdon railway journey
If you want a more leisurely way to enjoy the spectacular views from Mount Snowden, try the Snowden Railway, a real steam train which runs from Llanberis to the summit. The railway has been taking passengers on the four-and-three-quarter mile journey for over a century. At the top, for train passengers and trekkers alike, you will find the crowded and tacky gift shop and café where you can pick up a souvenir of the day you ascended the mighty Mount Snowdon.
International Eisteddfod Festival
In July every year, pay a visit to the small town of Llangollen for the International Eisteddfod – five days of hardcore competition in global music, singing, poetry and dance. Part of the festival is Celtic Day, a day purely dedicated to the Welsh and their Celtic brothers and sisters. Although this is a serious competition and winning it can make a career, sessions can kick off at a moments notice, so keep an eye out for surprise impromptu performances.
The Eisteddfod also lets visitors sample traditional Welsh produce and food. Sample a taste of:
– Cawl – a classic one pot meal of bacon, lamb, cabbage, swede and potato
– Welsh Rarebitt – a kind of sophisticated cheese on toast
– Laver bread – isn’t bread at all it’s actually boiled seaweed mixed with oatmeal and served with bacon and toast for breakfast
– Bara brith – a spicy fruit loaf made with tea and marmalade
– Welsh cakes – fruity little griddle scones
Where To Stay – Snowdonia
Wales LL55 4NT
Telephone:+44 (0) 1286 870211
A base for the first Everest climbing expedition training, Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, at the foot of the Mount Snowdon Horseshoe, remains a delightful and useful lodging for those exploring the Welsh mountains and has stunning views. Hillary memorabilia hangs in the cosy public area and bar, and hikers with packs and boots are as welcome as road travelers. Reach Pen-y-Gwryd along the A4086 Llanberis to Capel Curig road and the A498 from Beddgelert. The hotel sits at the intersection.
Huge Edwardian bathtubs, a mountain-stream fed swimming pond (cold but fun!), sauna, and endless hot water soothe the walk-weary. The dining room serves set meals at set hours, and elegant food and wine (£20 pounds for dinner), but dress is come-as-you-are. The kitchen prepares packed lunch for walkers on request and breakfasts are generous. Loaded with a quirky atmosphere, this is a great place to stay. Rooms are quiet and small but pleasant, costing from £28 ($45) to £35 ($60) pounds per night.
Snowdon National Park Authority
For climbing safety information visit or call +44 (0) 1766 770274.
Plas Y Brenin (as used by Globe Trekker)
Contact: Martin Doyle
Tel: +44 (0) 1690 720214
Fax: +44 (0) 1690 720394
PYB are a highly efficient group based in the National Park and come highly recommended for guiding you though Snowdonia.
Detail about this magnificent steam rail journey.
Dave Newbould Origins Photography
See the website of Dave Newbould for some spectacular photographs of the Snowdonia region.
By Sophie Mitchell