We are so lucky to be located right on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park – some of the most epic landscapes and thrilling adventures in Wales are right on our doorstep. But with so many exciting things to see and do, which to choose?
As it’s the Year of Discovery in Wales in 2019, we’re here to help you make the most of your stay at the Royal Victoria Hotel. From the peak of Snowdon to the depths of Blaenau’s slate mines, here are seven must-see wonders of Snowdonia.
1. Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon)
Topping the list of wonders has to be Yr Wyddfa, rising majestically in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. Chiselled onto the landscape through the process of glaciation, it stands at an impressive 1085m, earning itself the title of Wales’ highest mountain. Its pyramidal peak can be reached in a number of ways, ranging from a morning’s hike to the summit, to a more leisurely ride on the historic Mountain Railway.
Whatever your preference, once at the summit you can indulge in a well-deserved rest at Caffi Hafod Eryri, whilst enjoying the epic views of seas, lakes, mountains, valleys, rivers, forests, Anglesey and even Cardigan Bay. Also at the summit is a plaque to Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn, the last native Princess of Wales.
Exercise, fresh air, refreshment, glorious views, and some local history all rolled into one – a perfect day out!
2. Castell Dolbadarn, Llanberis
Surely one of Snowdonia’s most breathtaking views can be seen from Dolbadarn Castle? The castle, built on a rocky crag overlooking the twin lakes of Padarn and Peris, acts as the gate-keeper of the ruggedly beautiful Llanberis Pass. Built by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, this medieval stronghold is rightfully recognised as one of North Wales’ finest treasures.
You don’t have to go far to tick this one off your must-see list – it’s located in the grounds of our hotel, take a walk and enjoy the views!
3. Dinorwig Power Station, Llanberis
Long after the slate industry had left its mark on the side of Elidir Fawr, the site was selected to provide hydroelectric power for the National Grid in times of surges in demand. Opened in 1984, and buried deep beneath the mountain, there are 16km of tunnels to explore. Each of Dinorwig’s six generating units can produce 288MW of electricity, offering a combined output of 1728MW.
Today the visitor attraction Electric Mountain provides a fascinating look at the process of producing hydroelectric power, it’s just a short walk from the hotel to the visitor centre.
This picturesque village is named after a prince’s dog! Gelert was Llywelyn ap Iorweth’s (d.1240) faithful hound. Legend has it that when the prince was out hunting, Gelert was entrusted to guard over his infant son. Whilst the hunt took place, a wolf entered the royal chamber and attempted to attack the crib where the child slept, only to be stopped in its tracks by Gelert. An almighty struggle ensued, but Gelert emerged victorious. When Llywelyn returned, he found the toppled crib, and Gelert covered in blood. Assuming the worst, the prince killed Gelert, only to discover the wolf’s bloody corpse and the baby unharmed nearby.
It’s a tragic tale but, alas, that’s all it is! The myth that the village was named to commemorate Gelert’s resting place was the invention of a wily old businessman as a means to attract more tourists! But don’t let that stop you from visiting Beddgelert. It’s a charming alpine village with pleasant walks, including one to Gelert’s grave, and a good selection of shops and cafes too.
5. Swallow Falls, Betws-y-Coed
Another of Snowdonia’s natural wonders is Rhaeadr Ewynnol (Swallow Falls), Wales’ highest continuous waterfall. At Betws-y-Coed, the Afon Llugwy crashes and tumbles its way from Carnedd Llywelyn, creating a scene of outstanding natural beauty framed with conifer, birch and beech. The cafes, restaurants and local shops of Betws are worth a visit too!
6. The Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog
The town of Blaenau Ffestiniog and the Slate Caverns are a reminder of Wales’ eminent position during the Industrial Revolution. Work at Llechwedd began in 1846, and at its peak in 1884 over 23,000 tons of slate were quarried. But Blaenau isn’t just about Wales’ industrial history; here you can tackle world-famous bike trails, zoom on record-breaking zip-wires and bounce below on subterranean trampolines! This isn’t what you’d expect in the heart of our National Park, but if you love a thrill Blaenau should definitely be on your must-see list.
7. Cadair Idris
This mountain sits at the southern end of the National Park, near the town of Dolgellau. The peak is a popular attraction for walkers and hikers but holds an important place in our cultural heritage too. It is said to be the place where the giant Idris sat as he looked westwards towards the Irish Sea. Some nearby lakes were rumoured to be bottomless, and it is said anyone who sleeps on the mountain’s slopes alone will wake up as either a madman or a poet.
Cadair Idris is also said to have been one of the hunting grounds of Gwyn ap Nudd, King of the Fairies. The howling of his hunting dogs (Cwn Annwn) foretold death to anyone who heard them… but don’t let that put you off visiting!
Images courtesy: crown copyright Visit Wales