Snowdonia, North Wales

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July 25th 2017
Published: July 25th 2017
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For all the travelling I have done, I've definitely not seen enough of my own island. By island I mean Great Britain and what better way to do it than to go camping?!In July of this year we went camping in Snowdonia over a weekend. Snowdonia is a National park, a mountainous region in North Wales with an area of 823 square miles and is home to over 26,000 people. It’s around 3 and a half hours drive from my home town of Cheltenham but totally worth it. The campsite we stayed in was called Dolgam and it is both a campsite and a B&B. The campsite itself was basic with washing up facilities, electric hook up points on selected pitches and of course showers and toilets. The toilets, showers and the washing up facilities were great - warm and clean which for me are the most necessary features for comfort. When I say that Snowdonia is a mountainous region, I am not kidding - they're everywhere! In fact, its name derives from “Snowdon” which is the highest mountain in both England and Wales. In Welsh however, the area is named 'Eryri' which according to common belief comes from the word 'Eryr' meaning Eagle. Recent research shows that it quite simply means 'highlands' which makes a lot more sense! Snowdonia is also home to a number of villages, including the picturesque Betws y Coed. More than half of Snowdonia's population speak the Welsh language, and the aims of the National Park are to conserve and amplify the beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area.Despite being on a 2 day limit and only being able to see a fraction of what the area offers, what we did see was amazing, literally breathtaking.Betws y Coed<br style="color:򀏄 font-family: Karla; font-size: 17px; text-align: justify;" />Betws y Coed is the principal village within Snowdonia National Park and is North Wales' most popular accommodation provider and inland resort. It is surrounded by mountains and dense woodlands which are enhanced by beautiful waterfalls, stunning lakes and ancient bridges. Alongside the many B&BS and hotels, the village has shops a plenty - many of which specialise in outdoor clothing, hiking and camping equipment. Upon arriving in Betws y Coed, we weren't too sure what to expect but in the midst of the town we were surprised by lots of unique areas of beauty. We parked in the middle of the town and walked over one of the many ancient bridges before we went shopping. This particular bridge crosses over a beautiful river. As mentioned, the majority of the shops were outdoor and camping shops. Not quite the shopping experience we hoped for but if you like just having a mooch around then it is ideal and the individual areas of beauty I mentioned earlier are enticing if you are into photography!Surf SnowdoniaA big highlight of our weekend was the decision we made to live on the wild side, booking ourselves in for a surf lesson at an outdoor, artificial wave pool called Surf Snowdonia, owned by Conwy Adventure Leisure Ltd. Currently, it is the United Kingdom's only artificial surfing lake. It was first opened in August 2015 and the site now offers 'glamping', hook ups for camping, a wipeout-style 'Crash and Splash Lagoon', kids play area and a bar and restaurant in addition to their surf lessons and freesurf sessions. Being watersport newbies, we did a beginner lesson. On a weekend, the session costs £55 and lasts 90 minutes but during the week it is reduced to £45. They also do a great offer which includes a £10 session if you return the following day. We had a 30 minute briefing on dry land in a classroom, learning the basics of a surf board, how to lie on it, paddle and then stand up. Sounds easy right? Wrong! We then had an hour in the water, with the instructor close by at all times. The wave pool is split into different sections, advanced, intermediate and beginner, the advanced being where the wave is biggest, and the beginner being where the wave is reaching the end of its cycle. Whilst the wave was generating and reaching the advanced surfing section, the instructor got us on the boards, and when we were ready he shouted at us to start paddling. Once the wave hit us, we were instructed to carry on paddling for 2-3 strokes, then push ourselves up. Catching the wave wasn't too tricky, the hard part (which I didn't master at all in the hour) was standing up!Personally, I thought the session was a little pricey especially as I was wracked with nerves and didn’t really want to do it but it was amazing fun and I am glad I got the experience. It was such a rush of adrenaline and also a really good workout! If you are in the area, I would highly recommend the surf sessions as anyone can try it out and it is a good way to spend an afternoon!Swallow FallsOn the way in to Betws y Coed, a short walking distance from the shops, I saw a sign for 'Swallow Falls'. I am a keen photographer entranced by natural wonders so I was very eager to see what the falls offered. We parked up in a lay-by, (a lot of the parking in the village was either free or dirt cheap) walked down to the entrance, paid a whopping £1.50 entrance fee and off we went. We followed a series of steps and paths to railings from which we saw the great waterfall in all of its splendid glory! Despite being close to the village, it is tucked away and often missed by people visiting the area. I'm not amazing at taking photos but even I got some wondrous snaps. If you love physical geography, photography or sightseeing then you've definitely got to visit. You will not be disappointed – I highly recommend!Mount SnowdonMount Snowdon is the largest mountain in England and Wales and the second largest in Britain, below Ben Nevis. It's 1085m high and is a designated nature reserve for its flora and fauna. It is in fact the busiest mountain in the UK with over 582,000 people visiting per year. From Llanberis to the summit is over 7.6km and there are a number of paths leading up, some more challenging than the others meaning beginners and less experienced climbers get the chance to reach new heights! In addition to peak reachers, Snowdon’s cliff faces are also popular with rock climbers.Ok, so call me lazy, but I didn't actually climb Snowdon. I took alternative transport to the summit….. The Snowdon Mountain Railway which has been running since 1896. It takes less than half the average walking time and the views are almost identical to those of the people climbing it. You cross over viaducts, hover past waterfalls and (believe it or not) lots of beautiful greenery, don’t be thinking it is all rocks and snow! It takes an hour to get to the summit and an hour back down and you get 30 minutes up the top. The views from the top are really hit and miss depending solely on the typical British weather but we were lucky to only have patches of mist. We saw lovely lakes as well as a view for miles of pure green and rocky mountains. The actual summit is marked by stone steps leading up to an orientation table which points out the names, directions and distances of all the different summitsIt's a shame that the views are so sporadic but when the mist is minimal the views are phenomenal. It is definitely worth a visit to the top, however you decide to get up there - either the easy way or the hard way!All in all, Snowdonia is a fantastic yet serene place to visit with wonders to suit everyone.


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