In our effort to see more of the UK, Wales’ Snowdonia National Park, often cited as one of the UK’s most beautiful, seemed a natural next step. We always appreciate getting out of the city, breathing fresh air, and reconnecting with nature. Best yet, travel logistics were as easy as they could be as we picked up an Enterprise Car Club car just around the corner from our flat!
Welsh weather is unpredictable, especially in May, but we were fortunate enough to experience warm, sunny weather over our 3-day weekend. We kicked the trip off with a stop in Llangollen, an attractive town under an hour from the eastern edge of the park. We stretched our legs with a stroll around town and along the Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal and filled our bellies with lunch from Dee Side Bistro (cheeseburger, jacket potato) (with views of the rushing River Dee!).
We arrived at our B&B in Betws-y-Coed (The Courthouse), our home for the next few days, in the early afternoon. The town is a great home base from which to explore the northern half of Snowdonia; it reminded us quite a bit of North Conway, one of our favorite spots back home. We spent one morning wandering around the town, admiring views of the River Conwy from a little pedestrian suspension bridge (53.092240, -3.799017), shopping for souvenirs (a ceramic bowl in this case) at Galeri Betws-y-Coed, and taking photos of the idyllic Pont-y-Pair Bridge. The town is also home to some good restaurants; we grabbed tasty dinners at Olif (hummus, cornbread bruschetta, potatoes, tomato with goat cheese, slow cooked beef, brownie sundae) and Hanging’ Pizzeria (margherita pizza, garlic flatbread, brownie sundae).
Driving around the park is a joy in and of itself. There are little spots to stop (like Swallow Falls) and well-marked viewpoints along the main roads. We drove over Nant Ffrancon Pass and around to the north coast of Wales for mountain and ocean views. And the landscape around the A4086 is spectacular.
Of course, most people visit Snowdonia for the hiking, and we were no exception! We took a short and easy walk up to (and around) Llyn Idwal from Pont Pen-y-benglog our first day, where we ran into more sheep than people (just the way we like it)!
Our big hike came on our only full day. We planned on starting at Pen-y-Pass but couldn’t park there, as it’s a very popular spot from which to start the hike to Snowdon and the lot was full. So we parked a few miles down the A4086 at Maes Parcio and shared a taxi back up to the trailhead (there is also a bus that loops between the car parks, which we took advantage of on our return). We had only planned to do a relatively short hike up and back down Pyg Track, but once we got to the viewpoint over Llyn Llydaw (at the eastern meeting point of Pyg Track and Crib Goch; 53.076969, -4.041631), we couldn’t help but continue!
We stayed on Pyg Track as we approached Glaslyn from above. Eventually Snowdon, Wales’ tallest mountain, was right there in front of us—it’s rare to see it in such clear weather, unobstructed from top to bottom. It was a stunning sight.
Eventually we got to the point where Pyg Track meets Miner’s Track (53.072841, -4.070502) and we had to decide—should we summit? Having not packed enough food or water for a hike that long and demanding, we decided to play it safe and start our descent on Miner’s Track. We regret not having planned better, but at least we got to appreciate the views of Snowdon and its environs while we headed back toward Pen-y-Pass!
On our last day we parked at Rhyd-Ddu and hiked toward Snowdon from the other side. With such tired legs from the previous day and not much time to spare, we followed the trail for about 90 minutes, staked out a spot for lunch, and then returned to the car for the drive back to London.
We often look back fondly on our time in Snowdonia. The weather no doubt was a factor, but it was just such a perfect getaway from the city. It makes us realize how much we wish such scenery was closer to London and also how much we miss the proximity of mountains to Boston back home. All we can do now is look forward to our next UK adventure, which given the success of our long weekend in Snowdonia might have to be the Peak District!