Snowdonia is probably best known for hiking, mountain climbing and activity holidays – which of course it is simply perfect for! However, there is so much more to Snowdonia than that – Wild scenery, rich in history, views to die for, we absolutely love it! There are beaches a plenty, however Snowdonia offers much more than a bucket & spade holiday. Dog friendly attractions which you can adapt to fit in with a good walk with your furry friends mean you can tick the boxes with the family and your pets, all in one day out! Waterfalls, mountains, lakes, castles – does it get any better? Whilst Snowdonia is well known for being rugged & mountainous, there is a softer side to this beautiful area so here you can it all. Beautiful beaches, set against incredible breathtaking scenery. There are too many places to list them all, however the following villages & towns are all popular places to visit!
Caernarfon Town – The Royal town of Caernarfon has an imposing and well preserved castle in the centre of the town which is definitely worth a visit and is often host to events such as pop up cinemas & re-enactments! (Sadly, dogs are not allowed in this castle). With a good selection of shops on the vehicle free main shopping street, a weekly market on ‘The Maes’, some great restaurants & bars, all just a two minute stroll from the pretty harbour where you can indulge in crabbing with the children, or take five on the bench watching the boats bobbing away on the water, it is easy to lose a day enjoying the sights and sounds of Caernarfon. Make sure you try out the amazing sweet or savoury pancakes at ‘Scoops Pancake Parlour’ too!! On the other side of Caernarfon, take a stroll around Doc Victoria, a beautiful quayside development built in 2008 with some great bistros and bars, maritime centre, award winning arts centre, shops & stores.
Did you know? Records show that Edward 1st spent somewhere in the region of £22,000 building Caernarfon Castle which really was quite a hefty sum – to put this in context, skilled craftsmen would have been paid just 3 pence a day & there was 240 pence in the pound! The building of the castle costed more tax than the treasury would have taken in a year!
Llanberis & Nant Peris – Popular with walkers, hikers, cyclists, runners and generally ‘outdoor’ people, you could not be closer to the mountains! Most visitors cannot resist the mountain, even those who are usually less active, be it on foot or by train! There are different routes to follow depending on your ability and it is well worth the effort – In fact, it has to be a ‘must do’! From the village you can take the Llanberis path which is the longest, yet easiest route up the mountain. I prefer the PYG track or the Miner’s Path which you pick up from Nant Peris which are both much more scenic and actually not too strenuous (I am hardly your typical hardy type). There are Sherpa buses running every hour which from the High Street right up to the Pen Y Pass car park. With its impressive waterfall, the beautiful Padarn Lake, & the remains of Dolbadarn Castle, the scenery is quite dramatic! When you visit, don’t miss out on the places of interest & attractions including The Electric Mountain, the Quarry Hospital, The Slate Museum. Pete’s Eats is the place is famous for it’s huge cooked breakfast, and there are a handful of lovely cafes, restaurants and pubs too!
Did you know? Every year, the summit of Mount Snowdon greets approximately 350,000 visitors a year, some by foot, some by train! The summit has 200 inches(508 cm) of rain per year, and can reach temperatures of 30 centigrade in high summer, and plummet to – 20 centigrade in the winter. Add to this winds of up to 150 mph and the temperature can feel more like – 50.
Beddgelert – According to legend, Beddgelert is the resting place of Gelert, the faithful hound of Prince Llewellyn the Great and Gelerts’ grave still attracts thousands of visitors so make sure to stop by when you are taking one of the plethora of stunning walks available to you here. Beddgelert is a very pretty, green village with the river flowing through the middle & pubs, quirky shops, restaurants and cafes a plenty. You can hire bikes, or get out on foot to explore The Sygun Copper mines -an exciting underground experience and a fascinating glimpse of the life of miners of old, only a mile outside of the village. The village is overlooked by Moel Hebog, the mountain. From the main car park in the village, it is easy to access if you fancy a bit of a challenge! If you can tear yourself away, Caernarfon town and Porthmadog are only a 15 minute drive or so where you can enjoy a change of scenery.
Did you know? Afred Bestall, the author of ‘Rupert The Bear’ once lived in Beddgerlert, and he used this stunning scenery in the illustration of some of his books!
Barmouth – Aahh, Barmouth reminds me of my childhood, where days were filled with candyfloss, family rounders on the beach followed by a squabble over who cheated then returning home covered in sand, tired and happy! A vintage seaside resort on the estuary of the River Mawddach and Cardigan Bay it is the perfect destination for sandy beaches and family getaways. It had been quite some time since I had visited Barmouth, so when I recently headed on over, I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of new shops on the High St, and the village had a real buzz about it – even on what was quite a cold day! The RNLI lifeboat station, visitors centre and gallery are here so make sure to drop in a leave a small donation! Every year, an annual motorcross beach race is held (the last weekend in October) with over 200 participants racing on a temporary beach track – what a noise they make! If you prefer the quieter side of life, hop on the Fairbourne Railway, visit Harlech Castle or King Arthur’s Labyrinth – all close by.
Did you know? In January 2014 two trains were stranded at Barmouth after severe winter storms destroyed the sea wall at nearby Llanaber?
Maentwrog – Nestled in the Vale of Ffestiniog within Snowdonia National Park, with the River Dwyryd running alongside the village, the scenery here is just beautiful. You can follow the coastal path and take in the surroundings which are second to none! According to legend, a giant known as Twrog hurled a boulder from the top of a hill down into the settlement, destroying a pagan alter. This stone is said to be the one located in St Twrog’s Church courtyard. It is said that if one rubs this boulder one is fated to return to the village in the future! Peaceful walks, stunning scenery, fabulous fauna and wildlife – a bit of a secret gem!
Did you know? Llyn Mair (Welsh for ‘Mary’s lake’) is a 14-acre artificial lake in nearby Tan-y-Bwlch, It was created by William Edward Oakeley as a 21st birthday present to his daughter Mair and as a water supply. The lake is set alongside the B4410 road, a minor road linking the village of Rhyd.
Betws Y Coed – Possibly the most popular inland resort in North Wales. Set in a stunning valley in the Snowdonia Forest Park and surrounded by woodland and magnificent mountain country it is popular for activity holidays, wildlife enthusiasts and walkers. With cascading waterfalls, which include Swallow Falls (where in the summer months you will frequently see visitors jumping from the ancient bridge into the chilly clear water below), river pools and hill top lakes, the beauty is breathtaking! There is a pretty village green, with shops & cafes and a miniature railway in the old railway goods yard. Beautiful scenic walks along the River Llugwy, and the Pont Y Pair falls are in the centre of the village.
Did you know? The name Betws or Bettws is generally thought to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon Old English bed-hus—i.e. a bead-house: a house of prayer, or oratory. The earliest record of the name is Betus, in 1254
Harlech – Upper Harlech offers the most breathtaking views of the entire Cambrian Coast and what seems like endless miles of beach, quaint gift shops, traditional old sweetie shop and fantastic cafe’s and restaurants. Llew Glas cafe on the cobbled square is our favourite spot to stop and devour a homemade cake or two!! Steeped in history with the imposing castle, Harlech has got to be worth a visit! Quite recently, the castle has started to allow dogs into the castle. Just a short drive away in the picturesque village of Llanbedr, visit Nantcol waterfall and stop in the Victoria or Ty Mawr for a cheeky glass!
Did you know? The town’s central square would have been a major assembly point for English troops and the main thoroughfare was likely to have been regularly filled with marching infantry or columns of cavalrymen. Most of Edward’s castles were specifically located to be within a day’s march of each other.