Snowdonia, North Wales October 2016

by Emma Bumpus on November 7, 2016

Jagged mountains and plunging waterfalls amidst green fertile valleys present one BIG adventure for Careertraveller and family.

Dramatically wild and rugged landscape sets the scene for 823 square miles of Snowdonia National Park culture and geography triggers alpine wanderlust amongst the rocky peaks of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales’ and England.

Our journey begins with a stop at the YHA Snowdon Llanberis where outdoors sheep and cattle graze peacefully below the highest peak in England and Wales, all 3560 ft. Indoors is a warm and friendly welcome ticket to a fresh and contemporary bunkroom whose surprisingly firm mattress and energising crisp lime green bed linen reflects sublime mountainous window views.

A wander round the hostel’s dry room, lounge, dining room and self catering kitchen is a 21st century introduction to the charity, who for 85 years has inspired and helped thousands of young people experience travel.

Reception is a hub of activity and information covering attractions, eateries, weather conditions and trails, the type that effortlessly beckons king Snowdon exploration. Equipped with details of 8 tracks, and legendary Snowdon Mountain Railway, which celebrates it’s 125th anniversary, we kick start the children’s appetite with a hearty YHA full English breakfast that beams with anticipation.

We opt for the shortest Pyg Track that starts with a brief scenic drive on the local Sherpa bus to mountain Pen-Y-Pass, a whopping 359 metres high above sea level! Within a primal panoramic playground of craggy boulders and mystical upland mist we join a community of Snowdon revellers from families and hikers to pet dogs and enter the third largest national park in the UK. Our ascent is a journey fuelled by friendly conversation, majestic geography and child friendly energy bars, the sugary kind that sweetly usher us to the top of the world!

Llyn Glaslyn, Welsh for blue lake is a unique pit stop that commands epic east flank views of Snowdon. It is here we accept Mother Nature’s changeable weather and ‘scrambley’ descend to the lake’s shore via the Miners’ Track with menacing views of Crib Croch’s knife-edge ridge.

Hankering summit views evaporate with sight of Llyn Llydaw, Snowdon’s largest lake with a legend of being the lake where Sir Bedivere (Bedwyer) threw King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur. Sight of a causeway and abandoned mine are curiosities for the kids who take kindly to the wide waterside walk. Smallest Llyn Tayrn signals home is near with a wide and even road that ends with a mirage like hop on Sherpa bus, summoning warm comforts of the YHA Snowdon Llanberis.

Dinner is an economically tasty 3-course menu of home cooked soup, fish n chips or vegetable curry with generous portion of chocolate cake that makes travelling complete. Evening entertainment in the lounge is a an oasis of board games and books with comfy leather sofas adorned with woolly throws, designed to relax and take in full bodied views of Snowdonia’s green pastures.

A Welsh mountain slumber brings further pleasure with a ride on the Llanberis Lake Railway, which just a 15-minute walk from the hostel is an exciting trail of quaint village shops, eateries and attractions. Narrow gauge- tracks and shiny short carriages unite when a rosy red steam engine blows it’s whistle under an authentic cloud of 19th century locomotive vapour.

Charmed by lakeside views of the Snowden Mountain Railway and Electric Mountain we discover the heart of slate country as we step into the former land of Dinorwic Quarry and Elidir Mountain where slate was first dug. A mountain tunnel reveals the original slate train route from the quarry and takes us past the National Slate Museum which once housed the main workshops for the whole quarry. Contrasting hues of blue and green dazzle us with mountain range views above lake or Llyn Padarn and woodland Padarn Country Park, whose wildlife recognises fifty species of birds.

Perched high above the shore stands Dolbadarn Castle, which built in the 13th century adds a medieval dimension to Snowdon’s village, completing our 5-mile journey from the track bed of the beautifully maintained Padarn Railway.

Mountains to coast take us north to Caernarfon where UNESCO world heritage site Caernarfon Castle brings waterfront beauty to Snowdonia. Shaped like a figure eight stands this romantic fortress built in the 13th century with impressive Eagle Tower overlooking the Menai Strait towards the Isle of Anglesey.

Three grand storeys and lofty turrets crowned with battlement stone eagles reflect Snowdonia’s hidden history, kept alive with innovative art installations such as Poppies: Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. This handsome display of handmade blood red ceramic poppies exploding from the parapets of the castle marks the commemoration of the WW1 centenary and tributes Snowdonia’s rich culture with pride.

Homeward bound is a an ultimate stop in Blaenau Ffestiniog, an up and coming industrial mining town boasting legendary Zip World, a former working Victorian slate mine brimming with adventure and imagination.

Outside is a playground of airborne zip wires fit for trapeze amidst the slate and mountains whilst deep down inside awaits Bounce Below, a whopping 400 square metre space of giant trampolines and modern slides. Built for pleasure seekers, neon lights heighten the ambience and highlight the rock-strewn caves and tunnels as we bounce, roll and jump our way up and down the Llechwedd Slate Caverns.

Between the nets we watch swashbuckling adventurers zip line their way across the craters and embrace this subterranean ingenious playground that offers fun for all the family. A glance at the 500 foot underground Deep Mine Tour is a historical insight to the miners who worked in semi darkness over 100 years ago and tributes this attraction for preserving the heritage of the Welsh mining industry.

North Wales is one big adventure!

Further information:

YHA
Visit Wales
Lanberis Lake Railway
Caernarfon Castle
Zip World, Blaenau Ffestiniog

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