Highlights of Wales | Snowdonia National Park

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Highlights of Wales | Snowdonia National Park

More than half (52%) of Wales’ Snowdonia National Park or Eryri (“highlands”) in the western coast is covered by mountain ranges. In total, the park covers more than 2,000 square kilometres of diverse landscapes and beautiful scenery, perfect for those seeking an idyllic escape. The oldest and largest of the three national parks in Wales, Snowdonia is home to Mt Snowdon, the highest peak in the British Isles outside of Scotland, standing at 1,085 metres; Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake, “Lake of Serenity”), the largest natural lake in Wales; as well as tens of thousands of residents who live within the park in beautiful villages.

View of the mountains in Snowdonia, Wales, UK
View of the mountains in Snowdonia, Wales, UK
Yachts Lake Bala North Wales
Yachts on Llyn Tegid (Lake Bala), North Wales, UK

History of Snowdonia

As the site of a long Welsh history and the centre of Welsh and English conflict, Snowdonia’s terrain is dotted with castles and the seemingly impenetrable mountains that kept the Romans and Vikings away from invading the region. Before Wales fell under English rule, Snowdonia was ruled by the Welsh kingdom of Gwynedd. To protect Snowdonia from invading forces and other Welsh kingdoms, Gwynedd rulers built Dolbadarn Castle and Dolwyddelan Castle.

Dolbadarn Castle Keep in Llanberis, 13th century, near Padarn lake, Wales, UK
Wide shot of Dolbadarn Castle Keep on a clear summer’s day, showing the staircase and surrounding ruins, overlooked by mountains and lush green grass.

These fortifications eventually fell under the control of England’s Edward I, who built his own chain of castles called the Ring of Iron. The grandest of these was the medieval castle, Caernarfon.

Snowdonia National Park is now a popular destination for tourists and adventurers. Located in the Celtic heartland, Snowdonia is also filled with legends, with one saying that Mt Snowdon was the final resting place of a giant killed by King Arthur. The highest peak in Wales and England attracts more than 300,000 visitors.

Reaching the summit of Snowdon

Snowdon’s summit can be reached by riding the Snowdon Mountain Railway from the station in Llanberis. Travellers have been going to Llanberis since 1896 to experience this railway journey. A return ticket allows you 30 minutes at the summit to enjoy the views. Trains run to the summit beginning in May; between mid-March and May, the train would only take you as far as Clogwyn. From Clogwyn, it is an hour’s walk to the top.

Clogwyn Station on Mount Snowdon from Llanberis path
Clogwyn Station on the Snowdon Mountain Railway from Llanberis path with Nant Peris in the valley in the background

Snowdon Mountain Railway is accessible and wheelchair users and passengers with mobility issues are welcome. Calling ahead of booking is advised in order to discuss particular requirements.

Various Walks in Snowdonia National Park

For those who are keen to hike, there are also six main routes to the summit, with the longest and most gradual walking route–Llanberis Path–taking you across more than seven kilometres of amazing terrain.

Snowdonia National Park has walks for all activity levels, from rugged mountain hikes to accessible walks. Mawddach Trail, which runs south of Snowdonia National Park, is considered one of the best trails in Britain, following the track bed of an old railway line by the river Mawddach. This fourteen-kilometre walking route is good for beginning walkers who are after a leisurely walk with stunning scenery. There are plenty of accessible benches and picnic tables on his path as well.

Another good accessible walk is the Dôl Idris Path, also south of the park, which takes you through beautiful parkland at the foot of the iconic Cadair Idris mountain. This trail has car parks, a visitor centre, and a tea room.

If you’d like to stay in the park a little bit longer, you can stay in campsites in the area and enjoy a perfect outdoor experience with the stunning north Wales landscape as your backdrop.

Snowdonia National Park Sunset
Dusk in Snowdonia National Park

Articles about Wales published by Odyssey Traveller.

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External articles to assist you on your visit to Wales.

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