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Snowdonia

Tyfen range courtesy Visit Wales Snowdonia, known in Welsh as Eryri (land of the eagles), is a land of high peaks, steep, plunging valleys and open moorland bounded on the west by the Lleyn Peninsula and the Cardigan Coast. Rocky mountains, glacial lakes, waterfalls and wilderness compete for attention.

Capel Garmon burial chamber courtesy Visit Wales Prehistoric man and Celtic chiefs left their mark here. The Romans built roads and forts. Pilgrims visited. The Welsh Princes of Gwynedd reigned from mountain strongholds-armies disappeared into the vastness of the remote countryside, eluding their enemies. The English came to conquer and marked the landscape by building castles. Industry destroyed mountains.

Llynnau Mymbyr courtesy Visit Wales Snowden summit view by Barbara Balard Today's visitor can experience the culture of the past while enjoying the beauty of today.

Snowdonia National Park's 840 square miles (1351 sq. km) stretch from the Conwy river in the north to Machynlleth in the south and eastwards to Bala. It includes the mountain ranges of Tryfan, the Glyderau, the Moelwynion, Aran and Arennig, Cader Idris and the most well known mountain, Snowdon, the highest peak south of the Scottish border at 3560 ft. (1113m.)

Waterloo bridge by Eirian Evans courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland Swallow Falls by Trish Steel courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland The Snowdonia National Park Visitor Centre is located at the Old Stables in Betws-y-Coed, a popular resort. There are many interesting bridges in the area. The cast iron Waterloo Bridge, built in 1815 by Thomas Telford, is inscribed "This arch was constructed in the same year the battle of Waterloo was fought. The famous Swallow Falls and its chasm are nearby. To the south of the village is the Fairy Glen, a narrow gorge of the River Conwy.

Snowden mountain railway by Barbara Ballard Llanberis Pass by John S Turner courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland Llanberis is a popular mountain centre in the National Park. It is flanked by two lakes, Llyn Padarn and Llyn Peris. The scenic Llanberis Pass is a not-to-be-missed driving adventure. From Llanberis, take the rack and pinion railroad to the summit of Mt Snowdon. It's a scenic wonder on a clear day.

Beddgelert by Barbara Ballard Beddgelert, a wooded stone village located amid steep mountain slopes, lakes and wooded hillsides, was featured on a stamp in 1997 and won a Gold Award for villages in a Europe in Bloom competition. It's a desirable location for exploring the Snowdon mountain range.

Lleyn peninsula view from train  by Barbara Ballard Tayllyn railway by Barbara Ballard
The Lleyn Peninsula is an area of remote bays and cliffs, wildlife inhabited islands and coastal resorts. The Talyllyn Railway is a narrow gauge steam operated train that runs for 7.25 miles through the Fathew valley on the peninsula. The historic train line was built to haul slate. The original carriages and locomotive are still in use.

Llunbedrogney beach near Abersoch by Barbara Ballard The largest coastal town is Pwlleheli with a long sandy beach and marina. It's a popular holiday resort. The old town still hosts a market, and the harbour is filled with pleasure craft. Aberdaron also has a sandy beach. Another sandy beach is found near Abersoch. Bardsey Island, two miles (3km) off the end of the peninsula, is an ancient place of pilgrimage. Aberech has a large medieval church.

Pile of slate by Barbara Ballard Ffestiniog rail courtesy the Railway Blaenau Ffestiniog, once the centre of the slate quarrying industry, is now a tourist attraction. The Ffestiniog railroad takes visitors to the historic site from Porthmadog, a 19th century terminus for shipping slate from the quarry.

Llechwedd slate cavern interior courtesy Visit Wales Welsh Slate Museum workshop courtesy Visit Wales At the Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Victorian mining conditions can be observed, and you can learn how slate was mined on the Miner's Tramway tour or the Deep Underground tour. The Welsh Slate Museum is at Pardarn Country Park. On view are the foundry, fitting shop, smithy, sawmill, carpenter's shop, pattern loft and all the old machinery used to dress the slate. Most spectacular is the 50.5 ft (15.4m) diameter water wheel that provided the power in the workshops. Roofing slate was made here for all of Britain.

Bala Lake by George Tod courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland Bala Lake, the longest lake in Wales, is a popular watersports centre. A narrow-gauge railway skirts the southern shore. The town was, at one time, the centre of the Methodist Church movement.

Barmouth bridge and ferry by Alan Fairweather courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland The Cardigan Coast and Bay area is known for its sandy beaches and holiday resorts. Barmouth is an old harbour town made popular by the Victorians. Look for the bridge built in 1866, with its 113 trestles and enjoy the Panorama Walk.

Shell Island dunes by Barbara Ballard Shell Island campers by Barbara Ballard Shell Island is a great place for camping and shell hunting. Scenic sand dunes dot the landscape. Wild wintering fowl like the island.

Dolbardarn castle view  by Barbara Ballard Dolwyddelan Castle by Barbara Ballard This area of Wales is famous for its castles, both Welsh ones and English ones. Dolbadarn commanded the Llanberis Pass, its round tower still dominating the landscape. Dolwyddelan Castle is an early 13th century Welsh castle built by Llewelyn the Great to guard the approaches to Snowdonia.

Conwy castle by Barbara Ballard The town of Conwy is famous for its rectangular castle built by Edward I in 1283. The walls encompass what was the medieval town of Conwy. There are eight round towers and two barbicans, a large great hall and royal apartments. The castle is considered one of Europe's most imposing fortresses.

Plas Mawr interior by Barbara Balard Also in the town is Aberconwy House, a medieval merchant’s house with an exhibition on life in Conwy from Roman times to the present. Plas Mawr Townhouse, in Conwy, is an intriguing Elizabethan townhouse, considered an architectural gem. It is especially noted for its ornamental plasterwork and original furniture.

Caernarfon castle by Barbara Ballard The town of Caernarfon is famous for its castle and medieval walls. The walls are 766yds (700m) long and are almost complete. They include eight towers and two gateways. Caernarfon Castle, on the Menai Strait, is the site of the investiture of the Princes of Wales. The first Prince of Wales, King Edward's son, was born here in 1283. More recently Prince Charles was invested here.

Harlech Castle by Barbara Ballard Harlech Castle view from window by Barbara Ballard Harlech Castle was made internationally famous by the song "Men of Harlech". It is now a World Heritage site. Part of its appeal is the viewpoint it commands from its 200ft high crag over Cardigan Bay, the Lleyn peninsula and the mountains of Snowdonia. It was captured during a national uprising by Owain Glyndwr in 1404 and recaptured by the English four years later. However, it was the siege during the Wars of the Roses that gave rise to the famous song.

Bangor pier by Alan Fryer courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland Penrhyn Castle courtesy Visit Wales Bangor, an historic university and cathedral city, lies at the eastern entrance of the Menai Strait. This ancient town began in 525AD with the building of a monastery. There's an ornate Victorian pier--considered one of Wale's finest. The Museum of Welsh Antiquities contains collections of prehistoric, Roman and other northern Wales finds. Bangor also has a cathedral, founded in the 6th century, and a university. Nearby Penrhyn Castle is a country house pretending to be a castle. It was built for the slate magnate Lord Penrhyn and completed about 1834.

Portmeirion village by Barbara Ballard Portmeirion is a famous fantasy Italianate village. Set in 85 acres of woodland gardens and overlooking a harbour, it was built by Clough Williams-Ellis’s and incorporates elements of Italian and Gothic design. It has been turned into a touristy place ala Disneyland.

Snowdonia Attractions

For opening times and full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.

Aberconwy House
Castle St, Conwy, Caernarfonshire; on the A55
Tel. 0 1492 592 246

Air World Aviation Museum
Off the A499, at Dinas Dinlle
Caernarfon airfield, in the great hangar
Tel. 0 1286 832 154
Web: Air World Aviation Museum

Bangor Cathedral
Bangor, Gwynedd; on the A5

Bangor Museum & Art Gallery
Ffordd Gwynedd, Bangor
Tel. 0 1248 353 368

Betws-Y-Coed Motor Museum
Betws-y-Coed, Gwynedd; on the A470

Bodowyr Burial Chamber
By minor roads, A4080, west of Brynseincyn
or B4419 southeast of Llangaffo

Boduan Garden
Bryniau, on the A497
Llyn Peninsula, Caernarfonshire

Brithdir Roman Fortlet
Between A470-A494, near Dolgellau, Gwynedd

Broom Hall Park and Woodland
Llanystumdwy, Caernarfonshire; on the A497

Bron y Foel Isaf Burial Chamber
Dyffryn Ardudwy village, Gwynedd

Bryn Bras Castle Garden
Llanrug, Caernarfonshire; on the A4086

Bryn Cader Faner Cairn Circle
On A496 near Talsarnau, Gwynedd

Brynmelyn Garden and Nature Reserve
Two miles south of Ffestiniog
At Cymerau Isaf, Gwynedd; on the A496
Tel. 0766 762 684

Bryn-y-Gefeiliau Roman Fort
Between Betws-y-Coed and Capel Curig, Gwynedd

Bryn Gwynant Garden
Beddgelert, Caernarfonshire; on A4085

Bwlch y Ddeufaen Standing Stones
Off B5106, near Rowen, Conwy

Caer Gai Roman Fort
Near Bala (A494), Gwynedd

Caerhun Roman site
Four miles from Conwy
1 mile south of Tyn y Groes, on the B5106

Caernarfon Castle
Caernarfon, Gwynedd; on the A487
Tel. 0286 677 617
For more on Wales castles see our article Castle Country

Capel Garmon Burial Chamber
On minor road to Capel Garmon
from A470 or A5, near Betws-y-Coed

Carndochan Castle
On the B4403, 2 miles west of Llanuwchllyn, Gwynedd

Castell Cynfael
Tywyn, Gwynedd; on the A493

Castell Garn Fadrun Hillfort
Six miles west of Pwllheli (A497)
On Lleyn peninsula, Gwynedd

Castell Y Bere
Minor roads from B4405
Near Tywyn and Abergynolwyn, Gwynedd

Cefnamlwch Garden
Tudweiliog, Llyn Peninsula
Caernarfonshire; on the B4417

Centre for Alternative Technology
Pantperthog, Powys
3 miles north of Machynlleth on the A487 to Dolgellau
Tel. 0 1654 702 400
Web: Centre for Alternative Technology

Cochwillan Old Hall
Tal y Bont, near Bangor, Gwynedd; on the A55

Conwy Valley Railway Museum
Old Goods Yard, Betws-y-Coed
Conwy, on the A5

Cors-y-Gedol Park and Garden
Dyffryn Ardudwy, Merionethshire; on the A496

Craflwyn Woods
Beddgelert, Caernarfonshire; on the A4085

Criccieth Castle
Criccieth, Gwynedd, on the A497
Sited above Tremadog Bay

Crug Farm Walled Garden
Caernarfon, Caernarfonshire
Two miles northeast off the A487 roundabout

Cymer (Cwmhir) Abbey
Llanelltyd, near Dolgellau; on the A470
Tel. 0 1443 336 000

Cymer Castle
Minor road off A494, near Cymer, Gwynedd

Deganwy Castle
Deganwy, Gwynedd; off the A546, on a hilltop

Deudraeth Castle
Off the A487 near Portmeirion, Gwynedd

Dinas Emrys Stone Keep
Off the A498, one mile north-east of Beddgelert, Gwynedd

Dolbadarn Castle
Near Llanberis, Gwynedd; off the A4086

Dolmelynllyn Garden
Ganllwyd, Caernarfonshire; on the A470

Dolwyddelan Castle
Dolwyddelan, Gwynedd; off the A470
For photos and more details see our article Dolwyddelan Castle

Ffestiniog Railway
For photos and more details see our article Ffestiniog Railway

Glan-y-Mawddach Woodland and Garden
Snowdonia
Barmouth, Caernarfonshire; on the A496

Glasfryn Gardens
Llanystumdwy, Caernarfonshire; on the A497

Glyn Cywarch House and Garden
Talsarnau, Merionethshire; on the A496

Glynllifon Park and Garden
Llandwrog; on the A499
Eight miles south-west of Caernarfon, Caernarfonshire

Greenwood Forest Park
Port Dinorwig (Y Felinheli), Gwynedd
just off the B4366 Bethel road—brown tourist signs
Tel. 0 1248 671 493
Web: Greenwood Forest Park

Gwydir Castle and Garden
Snowdonia
On the A5106; .5 mile west of Llanrwst, Gwynedd
Tel. 0 1492 641 687
Web: Gwydir Castle

Gwydir Uchaf Chapel
Forest road off minor road
South-west of Llanrwst, on the B5106
Tel. 0 1443 336 000

Harlech Castle
Harlech, Gwynedd; on the A496
Tel. 0 1766 780 552
For more on Wales castles see our article Castle Country

Lifeboat Museum
Pen-y-Cei, Barmouth, Gwynedd
On the A496
Tel. 0 1341 280 940

Llanaber Church
2 miles north of Barmouth, Snowdonia

Llanberis Lake Railway Museum
Gilfach Ddu, Llanberis; on the A4086
Tel. 0 1286 870 636

Llanfor Roman Camp
On A494, north end of Bala Lake

Llechwedd Slate Caverns
Blaenau Ffestiniog, off the A470
Tel. 0 1766 830 306
Web: Llechwedd Slate Caverns

Lled-Croen-Yr-Ych Stone Cirlce
Near Llanbrynmair, Gwynedd; off the A470

Lloyd George Museum
Llanystumdwy, on the A497
On the Lleyn Peninsula
Tel. 0 1766 522 071

Llyn Eiddew Bach III Stone Circle
In countryside off A496
North-east of Harlech, Gwynedd

Museum of Mold
Mold, Flintshire
In the library and TIC Centre on the A541
Tel. 0 1352 754 791

Nannau Garden and Park
Llanfachreth, Caernarfonshire; off the A470

National Slate Museum
Llanberis, on shores of Llyn Padarn
In Padarn Country Park
Tel. 0 1286 870 630

Parc Gardens and Park
Llanfrothen, Caernarfonshire; on the B4410

Pen Llystyn Roman Fort
On the east bank of the Afon Dwyfach near Bryncir
On the A487 trunk road from Porthmadog to Caernarfon

Penarth Fawr House
Four miles east of Pwllheli by A497 and minor road on the Lleyn peninsula

Peniarth Garden and Park
Llanegryn, Merionethshire; on the A493

Penrhyn House
One mile east of Bangor, Gwynedd
On the A5122
Tel. 0 1248 353084

Plas Brondanw Gardens
Llanfrothen, Gwynedd
Off the A4085, south of Beddgelert
Tel. 0 1766 770 000

Plas Gwynant Garden
Beddgelert, Caernarfonshire; on the A4085

Plas Mawr Townhouse
High St, Conwy, on the A55
Caernarfonshire
Tel. 0 1492 580 167 (info line)

Plas Penhelig Garden
Aberdovey (Aberdyfi,) Gwynedd; on the A495
Tel. 0654 72676

Plas Tan-Y-Bwlch Garden
Maentwrog, Blaenau Ffestiniog
Caernarfonshire, on the A487

Plas-yn-Rhiw House and Garden
Minor road from the B4413 to Aberdaron, Gwynedd
Tel. 0 1758 780 219

Portmeiron Village
Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd
Two miles south of Portmadoc, off the A487

Segontium Roman Fort and Museum
On the A487, Beddgelert Road, Caernarfon, Gwynedd
Tel. 0 1286 675 625

St Beuno Church
Clynnog Fawr, Llyn Peninsula, Gwynedd
On the A499

St Cybi’s Well
6.5 miles from Criccieth, by the B4354 and minor roads; then 10 minutes walk from Llangybi churchyard

St Engan Church
Llanengan, on the Llyn Peninsula, Gwynedd
Off the B4413

St Gallgo Church
Bangor, on the A4087 by Menai Strait northern Caernarfonshire

St Hywyn Church
Aberdaron, Llyn Peninsula, Gwynedd
On the B4413

St Maelrhys Church
Llanfaelrhys, Llyn Peninsula

St Mary and St Nicholas Church
Beaumaris, Anglesey on the A545

St Mary Church
Betws-y-Coed, on the A470

St Mary’s and All Saints Church
Conwy; on the A547

St Michael's Church
Betws-y-Coed; on the A470

Sygun Copper Mine
Beddgelert, Snowdonia
On the A4085/A498
Tel. 0 1766 890 595
Web: Sygun Copper Mine

Talyllyn Narrow Gauge Railway and Museum
Wharf Station, Tywyn, Gwynedd, on the A493
Tel. 0654 710 472
Web: Talyllyn Narrow Gauge Railway and Museum

Tomen-y-Bala castle earthworks
On the A525/B5431; six miles south-east of Ruthin

Tomen-y-Mur Roman Fort
Two miles southeast of Maentwrog, Gwynedd
On the A496

Vaynol Gardens
Pentir, Caernarfonshire; on the B4366

Welsh Slate Museum
On A4086, Llanberis, Gwynedd
Tel. 0 1286 870 630; Fax. 0 1286 871 906

Wern Gardens
Dolbenmaen, Caernarfonshire; off the A487

Photos of Tyfen range, Capel Garmon burial chamber, Llynnau Mymbyr, Llechwedd cavern, Welsh slate museum workshop, and Penrhyn castle courtesy of Visit Wales
Photos courtesy of Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Waterloo bridge by Eirian Evans; Swallow Falls by Trish Steel; Llanberis pass by John S Turner; Bala Lake by George Tod; Barmouth bridge by Alan Fairweather; Bangor pier by Alan Fryer.
Photo of Ffestiniog railway courtesy the railway
Other photos by Barbara Ballard

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