Solo Travel through Wales Trip Part 3: Snowdonia

Wales has been one of the most scenic places I’ve been to. The Snowdonia region in the north is no exception. From Caernarfon, I made a beeline into the Snowdonia mountain range and found a little slice of heaven, which I made my home for 2 nights.

Things to know before you go.

A couple of things to keep in mind while you’re driving throughout the Snowdonia region.

1. Make sure to have cash on you.

There are two reasons for this. If you’re driving, which in this area you should, you will need cash for parking and there are some places which you will need cash to purchase items.

2. Travel with caution.

The roads are good but can be narrow and in some places do go down to one lane, especially in residential areas where people park on the road. Make sure that you leave enough room between you and the car ahead of you so that someone could pass if they needed to. This is not only for your safety but for those around you.

3. Do a little planning before you go.

I looked at a map of the region and looked for a town that I could call my home base. One that was centrally located to all of the things I wanted to do and see, you might want to do the same.

Blaenau-Ffestiniog

This once little mining town was my home base for my time in Snowdonia. It was centrally located and provided great accommodations. It now is one of the action capitals of Wales. You can do anything from hiking to ziplining and trampolining all in one day!

When I drove in there was a very heavy fog. It was so thick that it was difficult to see the next block. I thought I drove into a very small town with the main street and that was basically it. I checked into my hotel, Pisgah Guesthouse, and the owner Gareth was kind enough to let me check-in early. He was extremely helpful and told me there was a nice hike into the mountains right from town. I honestly didn’t believe him because all I could see was fog. He pointed me in the direction of a grocery store so I could get some supplies. The fog was so thick I couldn’t believe it. Since I had some work to do I hunkered down in the hotel and worked until around 7 when I decided to set out to find somewhere for dinner.

When I walked outside for dinner I was greeted with beautiful mountains that looked like they were right next door.  I couldn’t believe it. It was like a curtain was lifted and it just revealed how beautiful Blaenau-Ffestiniog was. Everywhere I looked there were mountains and waterfalls, it was breathtaking. With great food and accommodations and very few tourists, Blaenau-Festiniog is a great place to use as your base of operations.

 

Things to do

Train to Porthmadog – The last stop on the Ffestiniog Railway operates a daily train to and from Porthmadog in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. The trip will take about an hour but will give you a day at a beautiful beach, Blackrock Sands.

Betws-y-coed – I drove to Betws-y-coed one day looking for gas. I actually found a gorgeous little town set in a valley. This town was so picture perfect and quite touristy. There were several tour buses stopped there on a Friday so keep that in mind when visiting. However, there is quite a bit to do and there are definitely a good amount of places to eat and shop. A very picturesque river runs through town. Head Northwest out of town to the Swallow Falls Waterfall. There is a small fee to enter and view the falls.

Harlech Castle – Be careful driving up to this town, the roads are very narrow, one car narrow, but what waits for you at the top is worth it. Harlech castle is included in the Cadw Pass but keep in mind you will have to pay for parking. When I was there it was very windy but the view from the castle walls was beautiful.

Zip World & Bounce Below & Slate Caverns – Zip World has some of the highest zip lines in all of Europe, spend the day gliding through the air over some of Wales’ striking scenery. Once you’ve gotten your fill of the air, head down below into a repurposed mine that houses a series of huge trampolines stretched over gaping caverns. Or you can take a tour into one of the many slate mines which this area is rich in.

Dolwyddelan Castle – This castle was recommended to me by the owner of my hotel, Gareth. It’s a bit of a walk to get to the castle but the views are well worth it. The way up is a little challenging and it’s free reign for sheep so watch out of droppings. The Castle itself is sturdy and the stairs are narrow and steep so if you have trouble with stairs or small spaces you might want to give it a miss. Make sure to stop at the gatehouse to pay the admission fee or if you have the Cadw Pass it’s included. It does sit on a working farm so make sure that you close any gate you open.

Where to stay

There are quite a few options for accommodations in and around Snowdonia from Airbnb’s to upscale hotels & resorts. I recommend staying at the Pisgah Guesthouse in Blaenau-Ffestiniog. Not only are the rooms comfortable and well-appointed but the owner is very attentive and extremely helpful. You feel like you’re staying at a friend’s house when you stay here. I cannot say enough good things about it. Gareth offers everyone a daily full breakfast with their stay which is wonderful.

The owner, knowing that I was working during my stay added a work table to the room so that I could have a good workspace. If that doesn’t say hospitality I don’t know what does. If you’re looking for top-notch service at a great rate, look no further.

Places to Eat

Y Chwarelwr – The Quarryman Bar & Grill – I ate here twice the food was so good. It does get busy, especially on the weekends so make sure you make a reservation. They serve everything from soups to full meals and offer great desserts as well.

Plas Penaeldroch Manor – I found this place on the way back from Betws-y-coed. Set just off the road, this is a great stop off for lunch or tea. They have a nice selection of sweets as well as soup and sandwiches.

Lasting Impressions

I have to say that I was quite taken with this part of Wales. The people were so wonderful and the scenery was like a storybook. If you have the opportunity to explore this part of the world please do! Until next time.

 

 

 

 

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