Travel info for Snowdonia National Park in the United Kingdom

The highest mountain in the United Kingdom

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Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd LL48 6LF, United Kingdom

GPS: 52.927837598438, -4.0762001396076

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Located in the counties of Gwynedd and Conwy borough in northern Wales, Snowdonia National Park is the country’s oldest and largest protected natural area. Its valleys include nine rugged mountain groups totalling over 90 peaks and exceeding 600 metres in height. The park derives its name from Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and England combined at 1,085 metres.

This place is steeped in history and is home to hundreds of lakes and a diverse landscape covering an area of over 2,140 km². Submerged in the ocean 500 million years ago, Snowdonia National Park has exceptional geological resources dating back to the Ice Age, as evident in the presence of numerous mines and quarries. This mountainous region of the United Kingdom is also home to the world’s oldest railway company, operating steam trains since 1836. Initially used to transport building materials (slate, copper…) mined in the park area, the railway line ceased to operate in 1946. It was reopened by retired railwaymen and is now used to transport passengers who are nostalgic about trains of yesteryear in century-old steam locomotives and wagons.

Established in 1951, Snowdonia National Park is renowned for its walking trails, rural landscapes and historical heritage. It is a fantastic adventure playground for a wide range of outdoor activities and the discovery of medieval castles and small Welsh villages. From the top of Mount Snowdon (called Eryri or Yr Wyddfa in Welsh) it is sometimes possible to see the Wicklow Mountains, based on the east coast of Ireland, in the distance on a clear day. In 2015, Snowdonia National Park became the tenth site in the world to be awarded International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR) by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), making it one of the least affected places on the planet by light pollution.

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  • The beauty and diversity of the park’s landscapes (valleys, mountains, lakes, rivers, swamps, marshes, peat bogs, forests, hills, sandy beaches and rocky shores); the giant Snowdon massif with its many peaks joined by wide or narrow ridges.
  • The natural sites of Llŷn Peninsula, Anglesey and Bardsey Islands; the Dyfi, Dwyryd, Dovey and Mawddach estuaries; Shell Beach on the Shell Island Peninsula; mounts Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Tryfan; the Moelwynion, Glyderau, Arenigau, Carneddau and Rhinogydd mountain groups; Ogwen Valley; Gwydir Forest and Celtic Rainforest; the enchanting Fairy Glen; Swadow Falls, Rhiwargor Falls and Pistyll Rhaeadr Falls; the numerous lakes, including Blue, Llŷn Cwm Bychan, Vyrnwy, Llŷn Llydaw and Bala (or Llŷn Tegid, the largest in the country).
  • The medieval castles of Harlech, Caernarfon, Dolbadarn and Conwy (all built in the 13th century); the picturesque villages of Capel Curig, Llanberis, Beddgelert, Trefriw and Betws-y-Coed; the whimsical and Italian-inspired architecture of the town of Portmeirion.
  • The 1st century Roman remains on Tomen y Mur Hill (north-east of the man-made lake Llyn Trawsfynydd); the townhouse Plas Mawr(Conwy); Bodnant Garden (near Tal-y-Cafn); National Slate Museum (Llanberis); dry stone walls; the ancient Roman road Sarn Helen near Betws-y-Coed (remains of an ancient 250 kilometres route between Caerhun and Carmarthen).
  • Llechwedd Slate Caverns (at Blaenau Ffestiniog) and Chwarel Hên Llanfair Slate (near Harlech); Sygun Copper Mine (near Beddgelert).
  • The steam train journey on the world’s oldest railway (Ffestiniog Railway & Welsh Highland Railways) operating between the towns of Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog for 22 kilometres; the Snowdon Mountain Railway (linking the town of Llanberis to the summit of Mount Snowdon); the free-ranging population of wild goats and billy goats in the Snowdonia mountain range; the flocks of sheep in the meadows.
  • Gypsy Wood Park (Caernarfon); Falconry Experience Wales (Machynlleth); King Arthur’s Labyrinth (Corris); Rob Piercy Gallery (Porthmadog); Mermaid Spa (Battery Square).
  • The many outdoor activities (hiking, climbing, mountain biking, horse riding, canyoning, golf…); water activities on Lake Bala or Llyn Tegid (fishing, canoeing, rafting…); the longest zip line in Europe (Zip World Fforest) at Betws-y-Coed; the Wales Coast Path, which runs uninterrupted along the entire Welsh coastline from north to south for 1,400 kilometres.
  • The many sporting events (rallies, hikes, marathons…) held within Snowdonia National Park; the art and music festival held each September in Portmeirion (Festival Number 6).
  • Mount Snowdon is the rainiest place in the United Kingdom. It is said to have been the site of an ancient battle won by the legendary King Arthur against the giant ogre, Rhita Gawr. According to medieval accounts of the Knights of the Round Table, King Arthur’s magic sword (known as Excalibur) is said to lie in the waters of Llyn Llydaw Lake, near Mount Snowdon.
  • The Wild Swim Snowdonia brings together a group of swimmers who organise nightly cold water swims under the stars in various lakes in Snowdonia National Park (participation in the outings is open and free for visitors to the area).
  • For several years, the Snowdonia National Park Service has been fighting a proliferation of plants introduced in the 19th century (rhododendrons ponticum), threatening most of the park’s endemic plants.
  • Over the next 20 years, Wales has embarked on a major forestry programme which aims to plant many trees and hedgerows to link existing forests with new natural areas (sort of green corridors for flora and fauna).
  • A bus service (Snowdon Sherpa) serves the main destinations in the park.
  • The most popular attraction in Snowdonia National Park is the climb up Mount Snowdon, also known as the Great Tumulus. The 19th century steam train operates from mid-March to the end of October (Snowdon Mountain Railway from Llanberis) or on foot the rest of the year. The Llanberis Path is suitable for leisurely walks while the Watkin Path is more appropriate for hikers with more experience.
  • Another alternative to Mount Snowdon is to try climbing Mount Cnicht overlooking the Glaslyn Valley from the small village of Croesor.
  • Other routes follow the peaks of the Snowdon Range and form part of the Snowdon Horseshoe trail network, (such as Pyg Track, Watkin Path, Y Lliwedd Route, Miners Track and Crib Goch Route).
  • For the more experienced walkers, the Welsh 3000s is a long-distance trail that runs for almost 40 kilometres through 15 Welsh mountains in Snowdonia National Park. The route is one of the most challenging in the United Kingdom and is more of a mountaineering than a walking route. Another long-distance route explores the history and heritage of the slate industry on the Snowdonia Slate Trail (130 kilometres loop).

Where to eat

  • Caffi Gwynant
    (gourmet coffee with a smile)
  • Pantri
    (charming café)
  • Y Meirionnydd
    (elegant location & balanced meals)

Where to go

  • Beaumaris Castle
    (gigantic defensive stronghold)
  • Great Orme
    (high picturesque cliffs)
  • South Stack Lighthouse
    (lighthouse with a spectacular view)

Where to stay

  • Dolronwy Bed & Breakfast
    (hospitable hosts)
  • St Curig's Church
    (old chapel)
  • Sunray Guest House
    (superb location)