Wanderlust for Wales : North Wales Driving Tour
Nothing compares to the majestic countryside of North Wales, where mist clings to the mountainsides late into the day, and the soft light makes the slate-stone buildings glisten with the morning damp. Driving through Snowdonia National Park — any of its 823 square miles — is stunning at every turn. With the highest peak in England and Wales, crystalline lakes, local history steeped in myth and legend, and a dense concentration of native Welsh speakers, North Wales is a jewel in the crown of UK destinations.
No better place to start in North Wales than Llanberis and the breathtakingly majestic Llanberis Pass. Rising between Mount Snowdon and Tryffan, the pass drops steeply into a valley with sweeping panoramas of scree slopes, springtime waterfalls and grazing herds of sheep amongst ancient drystone-walled fields. The town of Llanberis is nestled lakeside at the base of the valley, in the shadow of Mount Snowdon. Enjoy breathtaking views across the lake from the ruins of Dolbadarn Castle, or challenge yourself to the uphill struggle of summiting Mount Snowdon, Wales’ highest peak, using the historic miner’s path. For the less physically demanding route, a cog rail train can cart you to the summit café with pleasant views across the Snowdon range en route. Hold on to your hats, though, as the winds can be fierce even on pleasant summer days in the valleys below!
On rainy days, it’s nice to head underground to explore the power station and learn how this former industrial mining complex has been transformed into a clean energy provider for the nation. Visit the Arts and Crafts centre to purchase a few local Welsh handicrafts, visit the working woolen mill in Trefriw for Welsh winter wear, or grab a traditional Welsh teacake to savour while relaxing next to a log fire in a local village restaurant pub.
Plenty of excursions fall within a short distance of Llanberis. With a high concentration of castles, delve deep into medieval history at Caernarfon Castle or Conwy Castle, both built as part of King Edward’s Iron Ring of castles to show English subjugation of the Welsh. Situated at strategic defensive points along the seafront, they controlled trade from the more fertile farmlands of Anglesey Island to the poorer mining region of Snowdonia. For a superb view of the castles and Mount Snowdon, Caernarfon airfield offers scenic flights in small aircraft — a unique way to experience the concentrated beauty of mountains, seaside and historic architecture.
Other notable visits include crossing the historic Menai Strait suspension bridge — designed by celebrated engineer and architect Thomas Telford — built to connect the island of Anglesey with the Welsh mainland. Cross over the fast flowing waters of the strait to the well-known village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch and join the queue at the post office to send your postcards from the longest single-word place name in the northern hemisphere.
With so much packed into a small space, you won't want to leave a single stone unturned in the craggy mountains of Snowdonia National Park and North Wales.
Location: North Wales, United Kingdom
Type: UK Driving Tour
Recommended Journey Length: 5 days
Suggested Accommodation: Glyn Peris Guest House, a Victorian Bed & Breakfast on the lakefront.
Guideline base cost: £675pp*
*Price subject to variation according to season and availability. Based on two people sharing accommodation. Includes B&B accommodation, transportation in a private vehicle, entrance fees to paid attractions and my services as guide.
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