Snowdownia is the name given to the mountainous area in the county of Gwynedd, with 14 peaks over 3,000ft/915m, culminating in Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa itself (3,560ft/1,085m), followed by Crib Goch (3,023ft/921m), Crib-y-Ddysgl or Garnedd Ugain (3,493ft/1,065m), Lliwedd (2,947ft/898m) and Yr Aran (2,451ft/778m). The best view of the whole group is to be had from Capel Curig, but the peaks themselves can be seen from Porthmadog or the Nantlle valley.
Snowdownia National Park
Snowdownia National Park is a recent creation and covers a much wider area than the traditional Snowdownia, extending inland from the coast between Penmaenmawr and Caernarfon by way of Bethesda to Bala Lake and Llanfairfechan. Access to a beautiful part of this area, including Snowdon itself, is made easier by the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which starts from Llanberis.'Eryri' is the Welsh name for Snowdonia, the Land of the Eagle. This park is one of the most popular hiking and climbing places in Britain. Not only does it offer rugged mountain scenery, but also beaches, dunes and valleys. It contains over 50 lakes and smaller pools. The park features a rich cultural heritage; roman remains, prehistoric circles, stone walls and sheep farms.
Llanberis (pop. 2,330) lies in a magnificent setting at the beginning of the Llanberis Pass. The twin lakes of Padarn and Peris have one of the largest pumping stations in Europe for the purpose of supplying water. Between them is Dolbadarn Castle, with an early 13th century round tower, and 2mi/3km to the south is Bryn Bras Castle.
Llanberis Lake Railway
The Llanberis Lake Railway is a historic, narrow gauge steam train that will take you on a 40 minute trip alongside the lake. Take in the spectacular views of Snowdonia's mountains in comfort and luxury.One of the train's cars has been adapted for wheelchair users.
Address: Padarn Country Park, Llanberis LL55 4TY, Wales
Entrance fee: FREE
Useful tips: Train schedule varies but runs most days. Telephone or visit website for schedule information and fares.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Facilities: Restaurant or food service
Gilfach Ddu - National Slate Museum
The workshops of the National Slate Museum in Gilfach Ddu were built in 1870 for the slate quarry of Dinorwic, which at the time was the largest in the world, and consists of a huge amphitheater carved directly into the slopes of the Elidir mountains.
Snowdon Mountain Railway
The easiest method of ascending Snowdon from Llanberis is provided by the tiny Snowdon Mountain Railway. It steams up to the summit of Snowdon at a speed of little more than 5mi/8km an hour, passing through Hebron, Halfway and Clogwyn stations. There is a bus service, the "Snowdon Sherpa", serving Porthmadog, Beddgelert, Llanrwst, Betws-y-Coed, Capel Curig, Caernarfon and Llanberis, all good starting points for trips into Snowdonia. There are National Park information centers at Llanrwst, Llanberis, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Harlech, Bala, Conwy, Aberdyfi and Dolgellau. A variety of waymarked trails, each only a few miles long, enable visitors to become acquainted with the scenery, flora and fauna and geology of the region. There are five waymarked and relatively safe and easy routes to the summit, starting from Llanberis, Pen-y-Pass, Beddgelert, Nant Gwynant and the Snowdon Ranger. The most direct route, albeit the least attractive, is the one from Llanberis; the best ascent is to start from Beddgelert and return to Pen-y-Pass, or vice versa.
Snowdon itself (Welsh: Eryri) comprises many peaks, the highest of which Yr Wyddfa (3,560ft/1,085m) affords incomparable views in all directions. But there are a large number of other mountains in the area which are also well worth climbing. All over Snowdonia there are good walks and climbs, offering far-ranging views of beautiful mountains and valleys.
Beddgelert (pop. 500), the village at the confluence of the rivers Colwan and Glaslyn, is one of the most charming little places in Wales, a favorite starting point for walks and climbs, situated as it is at the junction of three main roads. From Moel Hebog, a 2 hours' climb from here, there is a splendid panoramic view extending out into Cardigan Bay. One road from here descends to Caernarfon, another runs northeast through Nant Gwynant, the valley of the Glaslyn and one of the most beautiful in Wales.
Sygun Copper Mine
Sygun Copper Mine is a Prince of Wales Award - winning site. Follow the winding tunnels under the heart of Snowdonia where you will discover magnificent stalactite and stalagmite formations, and colorful caverns.
The road running through the valley of the Glaslyn leads to the delightful little town of Bettws-y-Coed (pop. 770) ( "temple in the wood"), situated in Gwydyr Forest at the junction of the Conwy, Lledr and Llugwy valleys. This is a very popular holiday place, crowded with visitors in summer. The ruin of Pany Mill and the 15th century Pont-y-Pair bridge are attractive to look at. The immediate surroundings are very beautiful, with the Fairy Glen, the Swallow Falls and the Conwy waterfalls.
Dolwyddelan Castle is located in Snowdonia on a ridge set against Moel Siabod. It was built between 1210 and 1240 by Wales's most powerful medieval prince and saw active service during the wars between the Welsh and Edward I. The castle fell to British forces in 1283 and was refortified, then later it was restored by the Victorians. A visit to this sentinel is worthwhile for the views alone.
Penmachno - Ty Mawr Wybrnant
From its outer appearance this stone cottage seems of little importance, but it is the site of Bishop William Morgan's birth. Bishop William Morgan was the original translator of the Holy Bible into Welsh.
Address: Penmachno, Betws-y-Coed LL25 0HJ, Wales
Opening hours: Mar 24 to Oct 30: 12pm-5pm; Closed: Mon, Tue, Wed
Always opened on: Spring Bank Holiday - Britain (last Monday, May), Summer Bank Holiday - Britain outside Scotland (last Monday, Aug)
Entrance fee in GBP: Family £7.50, Adult £3.00, Child £1.50
Useful tips: Last admission 30 minutes before closing.
Disability Access: Partial facilities for persons with disabilities.
Penmachno - Woollen Mills
Trefriw - Woollen Mills
Visitors to Trefriw's Woollen Mills can see operating weaving and hydro-electric turbines which turn raw wool into traditional bedspreads and tweeds. The mills have been owned and run by the Trefriw family since 1859.
Llyn Ogwen, Wales
Llyn Ogwen is a beautiful mountain lake with a waterfall (Benglog Falls). 0.5mi/1km to the south is Llyn Idwal, in which the son of Prince Owain Gwynedd is supposed to have been drowned by his stepfather.
Cwm Idwal Nature Reserve
High in the mountains is the Cwm Idwal nature reserve (Alpine flora), and nearby is an almost inaccessible gorge known as the Devil's Kitchen, 6ft/2m wide and 500ft/152m deep. This and one or two other spots in Snowdonia are the only habitats in Britain of the rare Snowdon lily, Lloydia serotina, a protected species.
At the south end of Llyn Ogwen is the triple peak of Tryfan (3010ft/917m), much favored by climbers.
Capel Curig, Wales
The holiday village of Capel Curig is a good base for mountaineering and walking in the Snowdonia area, and is also popular with anglers and painters.
On the eastern edge of Snowdonia the A 4212 leads to Bala Lake, with the little market town of Bala (pop. 1,600), a lively holiday place at the foot of the Aran and Berwyn Mountains. Its main attractions are the 4mi/6km long lake, which offers ideal conditions for sailing and angling, and the Bala Lake Railway, a narrow-gauge railroad which runs along the shore of the lake.
Llanuwychllyn - Bala Lake Railway
The Bala Lake Railway takes passengers on a scenic ride through Snowdonia National Park, around Wales' largest natural lake.