3 lovely, low-level walks in Snowdonia for autumn

The delayed start to the region’s tourist season has seen visitors in their thousands explore the mountains and coasts of North Wales in the last few weeks. From die-hard hikers and clambering climbers to easy family amblers and walking newbies, you’ve embraced the Great Outdoors like never before.

Although the summer is drawing to an end, we’re proud to say Snowdonia is still very much open for business. As we head into autumn, though, the weather plays a bigger part and you might find yourselves confined to the lower reaches of the National Park. If you’re a less experienced hiker or a fair weather walker, fear not, there are several lovely, low-level walks to enjoy that the weather won’t spoil!

Here’s our top three favourite low-level walks in Snowdonia.

  1. 1. Crimpiau

The circular route at Crimpiau near Capel Curig is the perfect for capturing the ambience of Snowdonia without schlepping uphill for hours. The route to Crimpiau’s summit is gentle but the views are some of the finest in the National Park and encompass the Snowdon horseshoe, the Mymbyr and Ogwen valleys and Llyn Crafnant. Along the way, the landscape of this walk is really diverse and will keep even the youngest walker occupied. As you head for the summit you’ll pass through woodland, heathland and moorland, all boasting their own unique eco-systems.

The route follows public footpaths but we recommend you familiarise yourself before embarking as the path isn’t well-defined in places. As with higher level walks, it’s important to be properly prepared – wear suitable footwear and take wet weather gear, plus drinks and a snack. There are some areas of rough mountain terrain here too.

At just 3.5 miles long it’s a great way to pass a morning or afternoon. However, as it’s also one of the more strenuous options, expect it to take apprximately 3 hours to complete.

Check out the route here.

2. Ogwen Valley

It’s often said that the Ogwen Valley is the jewel in Snowdonia’s crown. Best described as a wide, glacial valley bowl – complete with lakes, waterfalls and boulder fields – it’s a fantastical landscape to behold.

Ogwen Valley dates back to the Ordovician geological period (c.450 million years ago), and the retreating ice of the last Ice Age left the landscape we see today as it carved out the Cwm Idwal bowl on its journey. The valley is bordered one side by the Glyderau mountain range and on the other by the Carneddau; the Ogwen river carves it in two, separating the mountain ranges.

It’s a great place to walk, there’s so much to see around the valley and you’ll feel part of the landscape. For a bit of mythology, it’s said that King Arthur was gifted Excalibur by the Lady of the Lake who dwelt – yes, you guessed it – in the depths of Llyn Ogwen.

The circular route of Llyn Idwal from Ogwen Cottage is just under 3 miles and will only a couple of hours. Be warned: it will take longer as you stop frequently to admire your surroundings!

Check out the route here.

3. Llyn Padarn

This is our favourite route because it’s just 15-minute walk from the hotel (and a great after-breakfast option if you’ve over indulged!). This accessible, circular walking route will wow you with many of the natural and manmade landmarks that have marked out Llanberis in Welsh slate mining history. Begin at The Lagoons car park and follow the path to your left. The entire white waymarked route takes you around the shreline of Llyn Padarn – sometimes eerily still and at other times busy with watersports enthusiasts and boats.

Along the way, make sure you allow some time to visit the National Slate Museum at Gilfach Ddu. This (free to enter) living history museum gives a fascinating insight into the lives of local quarrymen and their families during the height of the slate industry. If you’ve got kiddies or rail enthusiasts with you, you might also enjoy a trip on the Llanberis Lake Railway.

Coming in at just under 5 miles and, thanks to its flat, easy terrain, this walk can be completed in a couple of hours – you should allow longer for train rides or a visit to the slate museum.

Check out the route here.

Heading into Snowdonia’s heartland provides a satisfying walking experience almost anywhere you go but if you’ve come away for a relaxing break these low-level routes aren’t challenging but will give you a new perspective on wild North Wales.

Images courtesy: Crimpiau by © Copyright Terry Hughes and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Ogwen Valley by © Copyright John Fielding and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Llyn Padarn by Raintheone / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Avoid the crowds on these 5 quiet North Wales beaches

One of the biggest draws of a break to North Wales is our diverse coastline. From bustling, golden sands to areas of significant interest to nature lovers, we’ve got beaches to suit all tastes. COVID-19 has been a stressful, uncertain time and in our latest blog we’re sharing our favourite quiet beaches within an hour’s drive of the hotel. On them you can relax, enjoy peace and quiet and comfortably maintain social distancing measures.

1. Black Rock Sands – Porthmadog (47 minutes via A487)

Don’t read anything into its somewhat sinister name, this lovely beach has golden sands and stunning views! This large beach at Morfa Bychan is two miles long and the perfect pit-stop between the busy seaside resorts of Criccieth and Porthmadog.

A real draw here is being able to drive your car onto the beach and park it on the sand; not only will your beach gear be close to hand but there’ll be no trips to and from the car for the picnic basket! The hard sand makes this a naturally accessible beach, allowing wheelchair users and mobility scooters to safely explore the shoreline and take part in the fun without fear of sinking wheels.​

Futhermore, the sea is very shallow with a slowly deepening gradient, making it perfect for paddling too!

2. West Shore – Llandudno (58 minutes via A55)

Many of our regular visitors are familiar with Llandudno, having holidayed there as children. With its postcard-perfect seaside activities, including Punch & Judy, the pier and amusement arcades, it draws visitors in their thousands every year and has been particularly busy with staycationers this year. However, if you’re looking to avoid the bustle, nearby West Shore beach is a great choice, being the quieter of Llandudno’s two beaches.

With gently shelving sands and gorgeous views of the Snowdonia mountain range, this beach also has a promenade, modern play area and outdoor gym. There is also a pretty boating lake populated by ducks and often a few swans too.

3. Newborough Beach – Anglesey (44 minutes via A4080)

Newborough is renowned as a family-friendly beach and a romantic place of reflection. A secluded spot, this Blue Flag beach is perfect should the weather turn as it’s sheltered and there are several coves and dunes for a little exploring.

If you’re looking to make a day of it, nearby Newborough Forest has a network of trails for walking, cycling and horse riding. Bear in mind that part of Newborough’s charm is its isolation – there are very few amenities nearby. Take a picnic and anything you need to entertain yourselves if you’re planning to spend the day here.

4. Dinas Dinlle – Caernarfon (24 minutes via A4086)

Another proud Blue Flag flier, Dinas Dinlle beach lies on the north coast of the Llyn Peninsula. We think this is the ultimate family-friendly beach because it’s so accessible and has plenty of amenities on hand. Nature and history lovers will also enjoy visiting Dinas Dinlle; the beach is well-known for a variety of birdlife and is also the site of an important Iron Age hillfort.​

The Instagrammers among you will appreciate the panoramic views across the Llŷn Peninsula to Anglesey’s romantic Llanddwyn Island.

The beach itself is made up of pebbles that give way to soft, golden sand making it a great choice for a spot of sandcastle building and decorating. Turn up, pitch up and enjoy the peace!

5. Conwy Morfa – Conwy (31 minutes via A55)

Conwy Morfa is situated on a large bay at the mouth of the Conwy Estuary. At low tide it transforms into an expansive, sandy beach which attracts dog walkers, horseriders and tourists. Just a short drive from the picturesque town of Conwy, it’s usually quiet and boasts great views towards Llandudno.

The waters may look tempting but strong currents combined with a deeply shelving shoreline make it a dangerous proposition. Combine a visit to Conwy Morfa with a trip to medieval Conwy town for the perfect Welsh day out.