Good on UK proximity, mileage and ‘otherworldliness’, while kind on budget, our focus on the most visually stunning parts of the UK begins in the National Parks of Wales. The largest and most well-known, is the aptly named snow and ice-capped topography of Snowdonia. This famous, tourist-friendly park stretches over 2142 square kilometres – or 832 miles square – and is home to the highest peak in England and Wales, the majestic Snowdon. The peak is busiest in summer months, with weather conditions from May to September certainly preferable for outdoor hiking and sports. Snowdonia has one of the UK’s highest levels of annual rainfall, yet the overwhelming beauty spot often offers plenty of sunnier moments throughout the year. The area of Snowdonia lies in north west Wales, reaching through the counties of Gwynedd and Conwy, and of those living within the boundaries – 62% are Welsh speaking. With over 6 million visitors every year, the Snowdon area relies on tourism for most of its income since the closure of many industrial industries over the last century.
Snowdonia was made an official National Park in 1951. The park boasts a stupidly beautiful assortment or natural habitats for rare, even endemic wildlife – flora and fauna found nowhere else on the planet. The coastline is made up of many estuaries, bays and beaches, many unspoiled with over saturated tourism and clean white sands -such as Aberdyfi. Old quarries now filled with freshwater, man-made reservoirs only add even more sights and places to fish, sail or swim, with the rugged, prehistoric landscape offers up numerous natural springs, waterfalls and cwms, each with their own history and charm. The Snowdonia Park is actually made up of nine mountain ranges, and the protection of the parks mean that there are local trail guides around every corner, making the area extremely easy to access.The mountain range was formed through prehistoric volcanic activity, with fragments of fossilised shell found on the peaks of Snowdon dated 500 million years old.
There is an air of ancient mysteriousness to the Snowdon area. There are many places to discover, whether camping in a tent or touring in a modified VW-T van – either way, you can access the best of Snowdonia, getting off the beaten track where and whenever you choose. The following places of interest serve as great bases to check out the immediate and surrounding areas.
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Apart from the stunning cwms, lakes and waterfalls that can be found off the beaten track, for off-site camping sites and wild swimming opportunities, the town of Betws-y-Coed is often chosen as a near-perfect starting point to discover the fantastic mountain ranges throughout Snowdonia.
Rnynys Farm is a camp-site that offers plenty of space and ample facilities to act as a base to discover the famous U-shaped valleys of Llanberis and Tal-y-llyn, formed 18000 years ago in the recent ice ages. The area offers nearby mountain biking, climbing and walking amenities, and the site itself has a selection of Yurts and Bell Tents available to hire.
Dolgellau to Barmouth – Situated in the mid-west of the Snowdonia Park, The Mawddach Trail is not to be missed. A fantastic location with many beautiful camping facilities in the area, this famous, mainly flat walking trail from Dolgellau to the Barmouth estuary follows the lines of an old railway track that was closed in 1965. Families and walking groups take the stunning, nine-mile walk from inland Dolgellau to Barmouth’s beautiful river mouth, complete with sand and marshland, reed flats and rare wildlife. The route charts stunning river views, reed beds and bridges, protected bird species while edging ever closer to the endless estuary in to the sea. There is even a pub en route!
An easier Welsh destination to pronounce, this gorgeous village in the northern reaches of Snowdonia is named after a Welsh Prince’s faithful hound. This picturesque beauty spot is a Welsh tongued hotspot and the locals are extremely proud of this quaint village located in dense forest. There are a number of camping options – in the forest itself or nearby Llyn Gwynant, a site that resides at the base of one of Snowdon’s scrambling routes. For a stay in the wild heart of Snowdonia, nowhere else comes close.