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Snowdonia, the heart of North Wales

Snowdonia, or to give the area its full title, The Snowdonia National Park, encompasses an area in and around Mount Snowdon that covers the majority of the county of Gwynedd as well as parts of the county of Conwy.

The Snowdonia National Park boasts vast areas of natural beauty and unique scenery. It is known as Eryri in Welsh a name that can be translated as “the place of the eagles”.

The Snowdonia National Park is the oldest national park in Wales having being founded in 1951 and is home to the tallest mountain in Wales and England, Mount Snowdon. Mount Snowdon is climbed every year by thousands of enthusiasts and tourists either via one of the many paths leading to its summit or via the incredibly popular Snowdon Mountain Railway.

The area of the Snowdonia National Park has so much to offer to visitors that if you are visiting it for the first time you will wonder why it took you so long to do it.

Snowdonia is home to a number of popular towns and villages including Betws y Coed, Bala, Llanberis, Beddgelert, Harlech, and Barmouth. Outside of the national park are the towns of Criccieth, Porthmadog, Abersoch, Caernarfon, and Bangor.

Snowdonia is understanably popular with outdoor enthusiasts who take full advantage of the rugged terrain and fast flowing rivers. Whether you are coming for pulse raising activities or for simply standing and admire the Snowdonia Mountains, lakes, rivers and forests you will not be disappointed.

To the south of the region is the town of Bala, which is a national water sports centre offering sailing and river rapids.

In the north you’ll find a wide variety of mountain climbers and hill walkers. Away from the sometimes overcrowded Snowdon you’ll have the chance to explore some of Britain’s best open countryside and may not see another person for hours. The popular outdoor pursuits centre at Capel Curig is located just a few miles to the east of Snowdon and is ideally situated to take advantage of the mountainous terrain.

Snowdonia is home to some wonderful villages that offer the perfect location for your stay within the national park.

The popular village of Betws y Coed is located to the east of Snowdon at a natural junction between the Rivers Llugwy and Conwy. This popular area is a wonder of natural beauty with steep mountains all around and set within the Gwydyr Forest.

Llanberis lies at the northern foot of Mount Snowdon and is perhaps the most popular starting point for those ascending the mountain. This is in no small part due to the Snowdon Mountain Railway which begins its journey within the centre of Llanberis and takes visitors to the summit of Snowdon. Llanberis is also home to Llyn Padarn or Llanberis Lake which has a parkland area to explore.

To the west of Snowdon is the small village of Beddgelert which is another popular starting point for ascending Snowdon. Beddgelert has a picturesque bridge that crosses the River Colwyn. The village is supposedly named after Prince Llewelyn’s dog Gelert and the popular Legend of Gelert tale tells the backstory.

In the north of the region are the large towns of Caernarfon and Bangor that lies on the Menai Straits separating the island of Anglesey from the mainland.

Caernarfon is the regional capital of Gwynedd and is home Caernarfon Castle which is perhaps the finest example of a medieval castle in the whole of the United Kingdom. Like most of the other castles in North Wales Caernarfon Castle was constructed under the orders of King Edward I of England as part of his ‘iron ring’ to subjugate the Welsh uprisings.

The area that is today called Caernarfon has always been recognised as a strategic point and the Roman ruins of Segontium on the outskirts of the town bear witness to this.

The regions most northern town is Bangor, which is home to Bangor University which sits on the western headland looking down towards the town centre. Bangor has Wales longest pedestrianized high street and one of Wales oldest Cathedrals.

To the south of Snowdonia are the coastal resorts of Porthmadog, Harlech, and Barmouth, and to the west lies the Llyn Peninsula with the towns of Criccieth, Pwllheli, and Abersoch.

Porthmadog was once one of North Wales busiest ports shipping slate from the mountains of Snowdonia throughout the world. The Ffestiniog Mountain Railway served as a major link transporting the slate from the mines at Blaenau Ffestiniog towards the coast and is open today as one of the regions most popular tourist attractions.

Three miles to the south of Porthmadog is the Italiante village of Portmerion which was used as the set of the television series the Prisoner. Today visitors can walk round the terraced gardens and enjoy this wonderful attraction.

Towards the south of Snowdonia the popular resorts of Harlech and Barmouth face out towards the Irish Sea. Harlech has another medieval castle from the time of Edward I which once jutted directly into the sea but today thanks to reclaimed land stands some way back from the coast. The town of Barmouth is one of Gwynedd’s most popular seaside resorts and boasts a wide sandy beach. Barmouth is home to the Barmouth and Fairbourne steam railway attraction.

To the west of Snowdonia is the Llyn Peninsula which is popular for its watersports activities in the towns of Pwllheli and Abersoch. The town of Criccieth is home to another castle and has two beaches at either side of it.

The Llyn Peninsula is also popular with hill walkers who perhaps don’t want the often overcrowded slopes of Mount Snowdon.

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