Six amazing things to do in Llanberis

geograph-774650-by-John-Firth21After a long, dark and very wet winter we’re really looking forward to the brighter, warmer days ahead. In the last couple of weeks we’ve been delighted by the swathe of spring flowers carpeting the shores of Llyn Padarn and the sound of spring lambs calling to one another across the hillsides. Yes, spring has well and truly sprung here in Snowdonia and that means very soon all the fantastic attractions that make North Wales an amazing place to visit will be open for business (if they aren’t already).

We think Llanberis is one of the best places anywhere in North Wales to take a short break – there’s so much to do within a stone’s throw of the hotel you don’t need to go far to enjoy yourself! If you’re taking a break here this spring or summer, why not take a look at the variety of attractions on offer right here?

1. Snowdon Mountain Railway

No visit to Llanberis is complete without a trip on the ever-popular Snowdon Mountain Railway. This historic railway has been carrying tourists to the summit for over a century, completing the 5 mile journey to the top of Mount Snowdon – Wales’s highest mountain – 1085 metres above sea level.

The rail service, and the visitor centre at the summit, open for business each year in March, ready for Easter weekend, but it’s worth double-checking the exact dates before arrival if you coming soon – the unpredictable Welsh weather doesn’t care for dates and we’ve had some serious snowfall at altitude this year!

As the train pulls you gently up the mountain, give a thought to what lies beneath, including (reputedly) the vanquished ogre Rhita, and the knights of King Arthur, who defeated the grumpy ogre in battle.

2. Dolbadarn Castle

Possibly the most picturesque castle in Wales, Dolbadarn Castle is within short walking distance of the Royal Victoria, and its sturdy round tower remains as strong as ever thanks to its thick walls.

Dolbadarn is in a true picture-postcard location and is loved by photographers who usually snap it from its landward side – showing it as a silent sentinel watching over the glacial lake of Llyn Padarn.

The lake itself is one of the largest natural bodies of water in Wales, and with its mountainous backdrop the scenery is as stunning as you can expect to find anywhere.

3. Tour the lake

Llyn Padarn’s shores are perfect for a gentle walk, and you can complete a lap of the lake in around three hours at normal pace. We think it will probably take longer, however, as there are so many delightful spots to pause and enjoy the breathtaking views of the valley and the mountains beyond. Take your time, it’s not often you witness scenery as stunning as ours!

Alternatively, jump aboard the Llanberis Lake Railway, a narrow-gauge steam train route that covers five miles of the shore, taking in views of Electric Mountain, Snowdon and Dolbadarn Castle. The railway is a firm favourite with our younger visitors, and it hosts several family-friendly events every year, including an Easter Egg Hunt and a special Father’s Day trip (book to avoid disappointment).

4. Waterfall walk

Head down from the castle to the Snowdon Mountain Railway station for the start of a walk to Llanberis Falls, which can be seen from the railway viaduct too.

The two-stage falls of Ceunant Mawr are over a hundred feet high in total, and the walk of about a mile and a half is quite gentle, with a clearly signposted footpath.

Enjoy the spectacle of the falls from the designated observation point, before making the return journey back down the hill to Llanberis.

5. National Slate Museum

Open all year round with free entry, the National Slate Museum is housed in the buildings of the Dinorwig Quarry, which closed in 1969, and tells the history of Welsh slate mining.

Step through its doors and you are instantly transported back through time – the interiors of the buildings are laid out as though the workers have just left for the day.

Outside, the landscape is as spectacular as anywhere else in the region, with the quarry and its buildings nestled in the shadow of Elidir Mountain.

6. Electric Mountain

A rather more modern experience is Electric Mountain, the visitor centre at First Hydro’s Llanberis-based ‘pumped storage’ power station, Dinorwig.

Dinorwig Power Station is the largest of its kind in Europe, with 16 km of underground tunnels and 12 million tonnes of material excavated. It has one of the world’s fastest start-up times from standby, reaching output of 1,728 MW within just 90 seconds.

Entry to the visitor centre is free and you can pass a pleasant and informative couple of hours in here alone. But, for an unforgettable experience, book a tour and head into the mountain to witness first-hand the power station at work. It’s fascinating, educational and unique – not one to be missed!

IMAGE: (© Copyright John Firth and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)

What’s on in and around North Wales this Easter

ID-100313396It might seem a way off but it’s an ‘eggstra’ early Easter this year so now’s the time to start planning your break to North Wales. With Easter Sunday falling on the 27 March it’s not too early to start looking up events and activities taking place across the region; get your plans in place now and make the most of this special holiday.

To get you started we’ve done a round-up of some of the many Easter events taking place across North Wales over the 2016 Easter holiday. With attractions to suit families and couples, friends and relations, we guarantee you’ll have a trip ‘choc’ full of fun!

For little chicks

Easter Egg Hunt, Welsh Mountain Zoo – Colwyn Bay

Hidden amid woodland in a picturesque part of Colwyn Bay, this well-loved conservation zoo is once again hosting its ‘Easter Eggstravaganza’ and visitors are invited to hit the zoo’s now-famous Egg Trail. With some of the most spectacular views in the region, as well as some of the most diverse wildlife, the Welsh Mountain Zoo is a must-visit this Easter.

Little ones (and big ones!) can follow the clues around the enclosures and get a sweet reward! As you hunt you’ll learn all about the eggs of different animals plus there will be a chance to join in with crafts and games along the way. Unravel the clues and find scrummy eggs hidden in some very unlikely places!

Visitors with mobility difficulties may have trouble accessing certain areas of the Zoo due to its terrain, but the staff will assist wherever possible.

Outdoor Adventures at Coed-Y-Brenin – Dolgellau

The Coed-Y-Brenin Forest Park Visitor Centre sits among some of the most breathtaking scenery the Snowdonia Park has to offer. Situated where the rivers Mawddach, Eden, Gain and Wen meet, this outdoor pursuits centre is in truly a stunning spot – it’s no wonder so many people flock here each year.

Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned pro Coed Y Brenin has activities to suit all abilities and fitness levels. Activities include mountain biking, hill running and hiking routes, geocaching and orienteering. The Visitor Centre is getting into the Easter spirit with a special visit from none other than the Easter Bunny! Families can join the search for him by following the clues around the centre – complete the trail and win a prize! (£2.00 per child)

For hens and roosters

Landscape Photography at Coed-Y-Brenin – Dolgellau

If you don’t have little chicks in tow, photography newcomers will enjoy a landscape photography guided walk and talk on Wednesday 30 March (booking essential, £75 per person). Expert landscape photographer, Jean Napier, will give a brief introduction to this rewarding pastime, followed by a trip into the forest to put your newly-acquired knowledge into practice. At the end of the day, Jean will be giving feedback and advice on your photographic efforts. It’s guaranteed to send you on your way seeing nature in a whole new light.

Slate Mining and the War, National Slate Museum – Llanberis

The National Slate Museum in Llanberis sits in the shadows of the, now silent, slate mines of Snowdonia, situated in the workshops that once served the enormous Dinorwig slate quarry. From strikes and suffering, to craftsmanship and community, the museum provides a unique glimpse into the lives of over three thousand slate workers and their families. This Easter, the museum is running the ‘For Freedom and For Empire’ exhibition, examining how slate quarrying communities responded to the demands of conscription during two World Wars.

Love food?

There are events for food lovers happening all over North Wales this Easter. They offer opportunities to tantalise your taste buds with some delicious Welsh fare – both traditional and contemporary. Here are a few of our favourites:

Conwy Seed Fair – Conwy High Street and Lancaster Square

Every 26 March, plant and seed stalls, local crafts, local produce and, of course, honey pop up all over this pretty castle town. The fair is seven hundred years old, so you really get a flavour of traditional Welsh customs and produce. Edward I organised the first event, and it’s a great way to meet passionate artisans and learn about beekeeping, honey production and issues affecting British food.

Perfect wine for great food, Bodnant Welsh Food Centre

On 25 March Bodnant Welsh Food Centre is hosting a food and wine matching discovery course (booking essential, £20 per person). The event will take place in the Centre’s picturesque courtyard, overlooking the stunning Conwy Valley. The course is designed for people eager to learn more about wine, including wine styles and how they’re influenced, how to wine taste, how wine is produced and how to successfully match food and wine.

Image courtesy of holohololand at FreeDigitalPhotos.net