What makes Snowdonia such a joy, is that it’s much, much more than Snowdon – a fact missed my many.
Of course, the ascent of Snowdon itself, or Yr Wyddfa, is a marvellous day out – if the weather is not too bad. There’s a multitude of possible routes – some very popular where queues may form on holiday weekends, while others are sparsely used.
However, I’ve spent many days in Snowdonia where the weather made such ascents impractical – at worst downright dangerous and at best, unpleasant and pointless. It’s these occasions that prompt us to explore some of the other vast array of other attractions of the National Park.
If it has to be mountains or crags for you, the eastern side of the Llanberis Pass boasts the magnificent Glyders – a rock climber’s paradise.
There’s also a great low-level walk, the circuit of Llyn Idwal, with spectacular scenery all around. The Glyders form the southern backdrop with the Devil’s Kitchen straight ahead.
Tryfan – scramblers’ joy
Continuing east along the banks of Llyn Ogwen brings us to the great rock fin of Tryfan. Some 167 m less in height than Snowdon, it’s a great favourite. If you have a taste for scrambing, this tumble of rocks and boulders will suck you in.
To the south west of the Snowdon Massif is a softer area, but with some great walking at lower levels. Along the A498 to Beddgelert are two picturesque lakes Llyn Gwynant and Llyn Dinas. Both have excellent routes in the shadow of fine hills. In fact, between the two lakes is the starting point for one of my favourite ascents of Snowdon itself, the Watkin Path.
However, south of Beddgelert are some attractive hills with more gentle walking and almost empty paths. An ill-timed trip to Snowdonia one early spring coincided with foul weather in the mountains. This encouraged us to explore the Beddgelert Forest and the Moelwyns.
I’ve only just scratched the surface with hundreds of other attractions to enjoy. Remember the sea is never far away adding extra spice an walking opportunities.
Let’s not forget Cadair Idris
It would be remiss of me, however, not to mention one of my favourite walks, the ascent of Cadair Idris. The geology is magnificent with all the classic features of glaciation including cwms, moraines, and roches moutonnées. It’s biggest advantage over Snowdon is that from the summit, you actually have a wonderful view of Snowdon itself and the surrounding massif. But… and it is a big but, it depends on the weather. Unfortunately Cadair Idris is notorious for poor weather and cloud enclosing the peak. But there is a welcome and companionable little shelter to enjoy a break.
Again, reading this it seems a pitifully short list of the wonders of the region for the outdoor lover. Please forgive all my omissions – rivers, waterfalls and castles, hills and woods, lakes and legends, and man’s marks on the landscape, mines, quarries and habitations.