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Snowdonia National Park is easily recognised by its rising peaks in north Wales. Home to the highest mountain in Wales or England – Snowdon at 3,560 feet – Snowdonia's scenery also includes vast woodlands, open moorland and rugged coastlines. The third-largest national park in the country, Snowdonia covers 823 square miles. Though one of the wettest parts of the British Isles, Snowdonia has a magnificence that still draws millions of visitors each year. Climbing Snowdon is a must for those seeking outdoor challenge. The easiest route to the summit is the 5-mile Llanberis Track, which starts at Llanberis. As on all mountain or moorland walks in the area, hikers should be prepared for sudden and unexpected changes in weather conditions.

If you'd like to see the summit's views but aren't interested in the hike up, the Snowdon Mountain Railway is another option. Further popular mountain walks can be done on Tryfan, Y Garn and Moelwyn Mawr. Other woodland walks are just as rewarding, and good places to start are Tan-y-Bwlch, which is set in the centre of the park and offers trails up to picturesque lakes and forests.

The Offa's Dyke Path also runs through Snowdonia and can be picked up easily at the town of Ruthin near Snowdonia, which has recently become known as an arts centre for the area. Alternative outdoor pursuits of rock climbing, mountain biking, white water rafting and trekking on ponies are possible in the park, either on your own or via one of a number of outdoor activity centres.

The region is characterised by vistas of lush green fields, slate roofs (as slate has historically been a boom industry for the area – Blaenau Ffestiniog is known as a 'slate town'), and peaks set against wooded gorges. Towns like Beddgelert are charming for their scenic location, Welsh history and iconic architecture. The area is proudly Welsh and many residents speak Welsh as their first language.

Attractions in the region include the 13th-century remains of Dolbardarn Castle near Llanberis and tours of the underground Electric Mountain, Europe's largest hydro-electric pumped storage station. The Ffestiniog Railway, a narrow-gauge heritage railway travels 14 miles from Porthmadog Harbour to Blaenau Ffestiniog and was once used to transport slate from quarries to the harbour. The Railway has a number of stops along the way, including one at Tan-y-Bwlch for those looking to access nature trails on the way. The Sygun Copper Mine near Beddgelert is open for self-guided tours of a recreated Victorian mine.

Tourist information centres are located in the major towns (open year-round at Betws-y-Coed and Dolgellau) and can help book accommodation, which is widely varied but specialises in youth hostels and mid-range places to stay for those looking to explore the area's mountains. Local buses (like the Snowdon Sherpa bus service) provide transportation between the region's towns, and Snowdonia can be reached by car (2 hours to Manchester or 1 ½ hours to Liverpool), train or bus.

Snowdonia National Park, National Park Office, Penrhyndeudraeth LL48 6LF (01766) 770274
Known as “one of Britain’s breathing spaces”, the Snowdonia National Park covers some 823 square miles of Wales and is Britain’s second largest National Park after the Lake District.
Encompassing 23 miles of coastline and the highest British mountain outside Scotland; Mount Snowdon; Snowdonia National Park is a challenge for even the most ardent explorer.
For those who are not mountaineers, the Snowdon Mountain Railway offers visitors the chance to travel within 66ft of the summit.


Snowdonia travel

Snowdon Mountain Railway
The Snowdown Mountain Railway departs from Llanberis several times a day from mid-March through until October. The four mile journey climbs up through 3500 feet of Mount Snowdon and is the only rack-and-pinion railway line remaining in the UK, having been built in 1896. The first train leaves Llanberis at 9am and a round trip costs £21. Adam Croft

Snowdon Mountain Railway
Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and for many, the prospect of walking to the summit is simply far too much hard work. It's fortunate then, that the Snowdon Mountain Railway is there to take the strain for you. Climbing out of Llanberis Village, the rack and pinion railway makes its way spectacularly along the shoulder of the mountain, often in snow, up through the clouds to the improbable cafe perched right on the summit. If you're lucky enough to arrive in sunshine the views are as spectacular as the journey itself. Mike Higginbottom

Dinorwig Power Station
The Dinorwig Power Station is situated at Llanberis and is a must-see. You'll be able to see exactly what happens when half of Britain switches its kettles on after Eastenders as the upper lake drains enormous amounts of water in order to be able to generate the electricity to cope with the demand. There is also an on-site café. Adam Croft

Electric Mountain
Like most mountainous areas, Snowdonia is all about the power of nature, whether it's just daring to go outside in awesome weather, or as is the case with Electric Mountain, taming that power and turning it to man's benefit. Buried deep in the mountain near Llanberis, Electric Mountain gives you the chance to tour around an underground hydroelectric power station. Driving around inside a mountain in a bus is a surreal experience made even more so by the fantastical scale of the engineering on display. While the technical detail is interesting, it really is the raw experience that makes this trip so worthwhile. Mike Higginbottom

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