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Area Guides

Snowdonia is the adventure capital of the UK. Nowhere else within the British Isles will you find such a high concentration of opportunities for modern outdoor activities, set against a truly breathtaking backdrop of mountains, lakes, rivers, woodlands, towering sea cliffs and sandy beaches.

Visit the Directory section for a comprehensive listing of outdoor activity providers, outdoor shops, outdoor friendly bed & breakfast, guest houses, campsites, group accommodation, hotels and cafes throughout North West Wales.

Snowdonia Area guides

A fantastic new range of area guides will soon be available as free downloads from this page. If you are interested in finding out more about the range of activities available in Snowdonia together with advice for learners and inside info if you already take part in a particular sport/activity why not have a look at our downloadable ACTIVITY GUIDES.

Snowdonia Area Guides
A wonderfully evocative series of area guides focussing upon the 10 distinct mountain ranges of Snowdonia, (Carneddau, Glyderau, Snowdon, Hebog, Y Moelwynion, Arenig, Y Berwynion, Yr Aran, Y Rhinogau, Cadair Idris) and the coastal fringes of the Lleyn Peninsula and Anglesey.

The guides are a journey through a magical landscape that resonates with history and intrigue. Each of the guides features an inspiring ‘travel style’ article penned by well known outdoor writer, Jim Perrin, and a range of breathtaking images supplied by renowned local photographer Ray Wood.

In the mean time do check out the existing Area Guide, shown below, for a summary of what is on offer for the outdoor enthusiast in Snowdonia.

Area Guides
Information about activities and facilities available in different areas across North West Wales including Snowdonia/ Eryri, Anglesey / Ynys Mon & the Lleyn Peninsula / Pen Llyn.

Snowdonia covers a large area of North West Wales, encompassing the higher mountains of the region. It extends from the north coast (west of Llandudno) down to the River Dovey (Dyfi) on the west coast, and reaches east as far as Lake Bala.

While the island of Anglesey and the Lleyn Peninsula are outside the National Park, they are very much a part of the regions outdoor activity sector, and as such are included in the Snowdonia-Active area. The Snowdonia-Active area guide is intended to be a general introduction to the primary outdoor activity centres of the region, not an in-depth guide.

Northern Snowdonia

Llanberis, Llanberis Pass & Snowdon.
Sitting at the foot of Snowdon, Llanberis is perhaps the principle centre for outdoor recreation and adventure sports in Snowdonia. It has long been at the heart of Welsh rock climbing, and is an obvious starting point for walkers heading for the summit of Snowdon and the surrounding peaks (the lazy can take a train to the summit).

Llanberis Pass is lined with climbing and bouldering crags and two of the Snowdon paths start at the top of the pass. The obvious quarries (Dinorwig) host hundreds of routes for the slate climber and Vivian Quarry is a popular diving venue.

Llyn Padarn provides canoeists and Kayakers a vast, placid playground. There are several well-used paragliding sites in and around the valley, and several outdoor shops in the village.

Main Activities: Rock Climbing, Paragliding, Bouldering, Walking, Quarry Diving, Fell Running, Cycling, Canoeing, and Kayaking.

Bethesda, Nant Ffrancon & Ogwen.
Bethesda is the entrance village for Nant Ffrancon and the Ogwen. This is stunning walking country, with gentle valley walks and access up onto the Glyder range to the south, and the Carneddau to the north.

The Carneddau is the largest unbroken mountain area of the region, and so offers good expeditions for those seeking peace and solitude. Classic rock climbing is to be had on the Idwal Slabs above Llyn Idwal and on the East Face of the popular and photogenic peak of Tryfan.

Some of the UK's finest white water kayaking is to be had on the Afon Ogwen.

Main Activities: Walking, Climbing, Bouldering, Canoeing, Kayaking.

Capel Curig.
Central to the northern region of the park, this small village provides a good starting point for some fine mountain walking on Moel Siabod and on the Glyder range, as well as some low level strolls along the lakes and rivers.

Capel also hosts the National Mountain Activity Centre (Plas y Brenin) which houses climbing walls, a dry-ski slope, and a myriad of mountain and water based courses.

A good access agreement on the Afon Llugwy allows for year round, weather dependent white water action and several outdoor shops and cafes in the village help make this village a real hub

Main Activities: Walking, Climbing, Bouldering, Canoeing, Kayaking.

Betws Y Coed, Llanrwst & Conwy Valley.
From Conwy on the north coast, the valley runs south into the mountains as far as Betws-y-Coed. Betws is nestled into the hills and surrounded by the Gwydyr Forest, one of the first Forestry Commission plantings back in the 1920's (here you can see some seriously large conifers - particularly Douglas Firs).

The confluence of the rivers Conwy and llugwy makes Betws a great centre for some of the best white-water activity.

The forests now contain miles of fantastic mountain-bike trails - as well as some downhill tracks.

Betws hosts a whole range of outdoor shops, cafes, pubs and accommodation.

Main Activities: Canoeing, Kayaking Mountain-biking, Walking, Sailing, Climbing, Bouldering.

Beddgellert.
One of the most picturesque of the National Park villages, Beddgelert occupies a strategic position at the head of three valleys, so is ideally placed for expeditions in Nant Gwynant, and for leisurely strolls along the river in Aberglaslyn, which offers a short but sweet section of very challenging white water.

To the west lies Moel Hebog, which, together with surrounding hills, offers some superb walking opportunities.

Main Activities: Walking, Canoeing, Climbing, Bouldering.

Between Beddgellert and Porthmadog lie the roadside crags of Tremadog. Easy access, good climbing across the range of severity, and a cragside café, make this a popular venue.

Central Snowdonia

Vale of Ffestiniog

Blaenau Ffestiniog
Towering heaps of discarded slate dominate the town's landscape. The slate industry still thrives and has left walkers, climbers and miners a legacy unmatched by any other town in Europe. The enthusiast will find old mines seldom explored and well mapped unique underground caverns.

The rough cliffs of the Moelwyns reaching up from Tan y Grisiau (with a great cafe in the shadow of Stwlan dam) provide some of the best middle to severe grade multi-pitch climbs in Snowdonia.

The Ffestioniog railway, which runs the length of the Vale from Porthmadog ends in the town centre.Over the Crimera` pass lies the beautiful Lledr valley with its many small esoteric crags and the serious Lledr river a popular venue for Kayakers.

The Mignite moors lie 5 or so miles to the south, wild and remote they are more reminiscent of Dartmoor than anywhere else in Snowdonia.

Porthmadog
Popular harbour town with nearby Borth y Guest and Black Rock Sands beaches providing good coasteering venues as well as the long south facing beach for kite buggies.

The easily accessible cliffs of Tremadog and the less frequented crags of Moel Y Gest provide the rock climber with plenty to go at when the mountains to the north are not accessible.

Walkers can choose the coastal paths or the nearby Cwm Pennant and Cwm Silyn.

Porthmadog also gives easy access to the whole range of activities in Snowdonia with most other places being within one hour of the town.

Talsarnau, Harlech and Ardudwy
Framed by the Drwydd Estuary in the North, the A470 in the east, Mawaddawch in the South and the Irish Sea to the west.

Harlech castle dominates the coastal approach from the North.

The west facing beach at Harlech beach is long and wide, and can provide any kiting fan a great venue with acres of space.

The coast road provides the best access to the Rhinogs, Bryn Cader Faner stone circle, the awesome Cwm Bychan and equally impressive Cwm Nantcol.

Climbing and walking in the Rhinogs brings a a special solitude even on the busiest bank holiday, but do not forget your map and compass, the Rhinogs are notoriously difficult to navigate across.

The two estuaries provide great canoe trips, both with impressive views of the surrounding mountains.

Main activities: Canoeing, Cycling, Climbing, Kite Buggies, Walking, Pony trekking, Bouldering, Sea level traversing, Sailing.

Southern Snowdonia

Dolgellau
Dolgellau is perhaps the principal centre for outdoor activity in the southwestern area of the National Park.

Cadair Idris, whilst under 3000ft, is the third most popular Welsh peak for walkers, and it is Cadair that represents the life-blood of the local outdoor economy.

Dolgellau also hosts Snowdonia's most established mountain-biking venue in the form of the Coed-y-Brenin trails. With over 100km of single-track trails, it attracts over 100,000 cyclists each year.

There is an abundance of beautiful walking country in this area, such as the Rhinogs just to the north, where you can find a greater degree of solitude than some of the more frequented northern hills.

The mighty Afon Mawddach has an abundance of white water interest in a stunning setting.

The coastline of Cardigan Bay, to the west, possesses some good beaches, and the interesting Towns of Harlech, Barmouth and Aberdyfi.

Main Activities: Walking, Cycling, Mountain Biking, Kayaking, Climbing.

Bala
Bala is an important centre for water sports, both on the extensive lake and on the nearby rivers. The National White Water Centre, Canolfan Tryweryn, is the UKs premier white water rafting venue offering year round white water for recreation and competition.

The rolling hills of the area offer great walking opportunities to those seeking a more solitary experience.

It also has some superb stretches of quiet mountain roads for cyclists.

Main Activities: Canoeing, Sailing, Windsurfing, Cycling, Walking.

Lleyn Peninsula

Although situated outside the National Park, Pen Llyn (as it is known locally) is deservedly designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The peninsular provides a whole range of outdoor activities, possessing some outstanding beaches and some great coastal walking countryside.

It hosts an annual walking festival and sailing events.

The coastal cliffs also offer some good climbing and bouldering locations, and the best surfing spots in the region can be found here.

The towering cliffs and powerful tidal streams make for some of the most demanding sea kayaking anywhere.

Main Activities: Sailing, Sea Kayaking, Walking, Surfing, Climbing, Bouldering.

Anglesey

The largest of the Welsh islands, Anglesey possesses a vast and wonderful coastline. This provides the core playground for the island's outdoor activities.

There are beaches to suit every purpose - convenient access or remote solitude, sandy expanses or towering cliffs.

When it's raining in the hills, the island is often bathed in sunshine! The coastal path has been recently extended to provide an almost complete 125-mile circumnavigation of the island.

The coastal crags of Holy Island (Gogarth) are some of the best and most famous sea-cliffs in the UK for rock climbers.

The sea kayaking is world class. Islands, caves, coves, stacks, tideraces, overfalls; its all here.

The beaches around Rhosniegr offer some of the best wave sailing in the UK .

Main Activities: Surfing, Windsurfing, Sea Kayaking, Sailing, Climbing, Diving, Kite Surfing, Cycling, Coastal Walks.

 

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