In the words of our very own national treasure, Tom Jones, baby, it’s cold outside!
If, as many weather pundits are predicting, Winter 16/17 turns out to be a bit on the chilly side (remember 2010?) people everywhere will be talking about the prospect of a white Christmas.
Because of our small size and proximity to the coast, North Wales enjoys an extremely temperate climate all year round making white Christmasses here few and far between. Even in mountainous parts of our region – thankfully – hard winters are rare; although snow on the peaks of the Snowdonia National Park is a view we are privileged to enjoy from the hotel year in year out!
Snow, wherever and whenever it falls, transforms our surroundings and there is no greater transformation than when it falls here. North Wales, a rugged and gentle landscape by turns, becomes a truly magical place. Wander the streets of Betws y Coed and you could be mistaken for thinking you are in a stylish Alpine resort. Hike the hills surrounding Llanberis and you could be ‘north of the wall’ in a bleak and dramatic scene from blockbuster TV show, Game of Thrones.
Come with us on a sparkly seasonal walk through some of our favourite North Wales winter wonderlands. Grab a warm coat, pop on your toasty socks, and let’s make some snow angels!
An alpine stroll in Betws y Coed
Lit up by twinkling Christmas lights and decorated to celebrate the season of goodwill, Betws y Coed looks as good as trendy French ski resorts Morzine or Courchevel in the snow. This village, pretty any time of the year, really comes into its own dressed up with a covering of the white stuff.
Take a walk along the riverbank from Pont y Pair to the Miner’s Bridge. It’s accessible part of the way and takes in a variety of winter scenery including icicle-laden waterfalls, icing sugar meadows and silent, sparkling evergreen forest. A visit to Betws in the snow is as close to taking stroll through a Christmas card as you’ll ever get, this side of the North Pole!
After your walk, warm up with a hot drink and a hearty meal at the popular Stables Bar at the Royal Oak Hotel, a mecca for hikers, bikers and shoppers to Betws y Coed.
Ffestiniog Railway – the magic begins!
The Harry Potter movies have become synonymous with Christmas TV and we invite you and the family to recreate the snowy journey of the Hogwarts Express right here in Snowdonia.
Take a trip on the historic Ffestiniog Railway, from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog, for a blizzarding, wizarding experience. Along the way you will see frozen lakes and waterfalls, magically turned to gold by the piercing winter sunlight. Look up and the view will quite literally take your breath away; white mountain tops wreathed in mysterious winter mists.
Throughout December, you can join Santa at one of several special events held on the Welsh Highland Railway as he trades in his sleigh for steam to meet children, young and old, on a special festive trip. With presents for the believers and mince pies for everyone else, it’s a really fun and memorable family occasion. Owing to the popularity of the Santa Trains, booking is essential!
Pace or peace in the Gwydir forest
If just the sight of the white stuff starts you daydreaming about hitting the slopes, then you should make the perilous journey up to Nant Bwlch yr Haearn when the snow sets in. Okay, so you can’t strap on your skis but you can take advantage of the Marin Trail and all the thrills this world-renowned mountain biking trail has to offer. A test of skills in any weather, the route is particularly tricky and even more challenging in icy conditions.
If you’re more aprés-ski than thrillseeker, you might prefer to explore the area on foot. Managed by Natural Resources Wales, the Gwydir Forest has well-maintained paths through brooding pine forest and across sparkling, silver moorland.
With the snow lying all around, a pale blue sky above and silence, but for the drip-drip of melting icicles, we think it’s as close to a winter winter wonderland as you’ll ever get.
Image courtesy of: Bob Abell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.