Five breathtaking winter views in Snowdonia

You can enjoy fabulous winter views of Snowdonia’s deep valleys and craggy mountains from almost anywhere within the national park. Yet some places just find that sweet spot, where you just have to stop and catch your breath as you gaze at the landscapes before you.

Some are easy to reach by car – you can even enjoy the view through your windscreen if you wish. Others take a little effort to find, but the rewards are worth it.

We’ve listed our five favourite winter viewpoints here. Most of the time, these approaches by car and on foot are ok even when there is snow higher up, but do check the weather forecast before you set off and be prepared to abandon your journey if the weather turns.

1: Cwm Idwal from Llyn Idwal

 

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This classic alpine cwm is a natural amphitheatre of rock slabs and scree gullies. Facing north-east, its steep sides remain locked in ice and snow long after the early spring sun has melted it elsewhere. The highlights are the Idwal Slabs on your left and, across the glacial lake of Llyn Idwal, the huge gash in the cliff walls known as Devil’s Kitchen.

Park the car at Ogwen Cottage on the A5. It can get busy here but please avoid leaving your car directly on the road. A signed path leaves just to the left of the kiosk serving snacks and follows a slabbed path over gushing streams and frozen pools. The path winds its way up to Llyn Idwal (about 20 minutes if you take your time – and you should).

The view from here is jaw-dropping. On a summer’s day, Snowdonia can seem fairly benign, but Cwm Idwal in winter will help you understand why Hillary and his team used this part of the world to train for his world-first ascent up Everest.

2: Snowdon from Nant Gwynant Viewpoint

 

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This is perhaps one of the most popular viewpoints in Snowdonia, but with good reason. Just a mile south of Pen-y-Gwyrd Hotel on the A489 to Beddgelert there is a small car park and viewpoint with information. It’s easy to find and practically impossible to drive past without stopping to take a look!

The view across Nant Gwynant contrasts a more gentle countryside around Llyn Gwynant lake in the valley far below with the fearsome ramparts of Snowdon’s Y Lliwedd (East Ridge) and Crib Goch (Red Ridge), forming the mountain’s legendary horseshoe. Even the presence of pipes from Cwm Dyli hydro-electric power station (the oldest in Britain) takes nothing away from the natural splendour of this spot.

If the car park is full there is a further pull-in a little further down the hill towards Beddgelert. Do take care on this road as it can be quite busy and it becomes a wide single-track at this point.

3: Dinorwig Quarry Viewpoint

 

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An abandoned slate mine may not seem like the obvious place for an incredible viewpoint. Yet the viewing platform high above Llanberis in the midst of the vertical faces and slag of the disused Dinorwig slate quarry gives vertiginous views towards Snowdon, Llyn Padarn lake and the Llanberis Pass, in the middle of an other-worldly landscape as fascinating as it is austere. Plus, you may catch a glimpse of feral goats clambering over the slate!

Follow the minor road into and through Dinorwig village and park at the bus turning point (there is plenty of room, but be mindful buses do turn here!). There is an obvious path through a gate into the slate quarry. This level walk on loose slate pieces brings you in about 10 minutes to the viewing platform, fenced off for safety. From here you enjoy a wonderful view across Llyn Padarn to the east (and Anglesey beyond) and across to Snowdon and its outlying summits Moel Eilio, Foel Goch and Moel Cynghorion.

If you continue along this path (it’s fenced for your safety) you can explore more of Dinorwig quarry and wander as far as Nant Peris. Return the way you came or make a loop using the A 4086 (there is a pavement along this stretch).

4: Pont Croesor to Cnicht and the Moelwyns

 

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This isn’t an official viewpoint, but this river crossing in the Glaslyn levels provides a wondrous vista that incorporates the triangular (Welsh Matterhorn) peak of Cnicht, Snowdon, Moel Hebog and the Moelwyns. Add in the proximity of the Welsh Highland Railway and the Glaslyn Osprey Project, and there is plenty here to keep you occupied.

Use the car park for the Pont Croesor railway halt (despite its name, the bridge crosses the Afon Glaslyn) which also serves the Osprey project charity, centre and cafe. From the bridge looking you have a grandstand view of remote Cwm Croesor, with Cnicht on the left and Moelwyn Mawr on the right.

Why not visit the Glaslyn Osprey Project via a trip on the Welsh Highland Railway – and enjoy the views on the journey to and from Pont Croesor as well as during your visit?

5: Snowdon and the Nantlle Valley

 

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Not many visitors explore the Nantlle Valley, stretching from Talysarn in the west to tiny Rhyd Ddu at the heart of Snowdonia National Park. Driving from Talysarn, the B4418 abruptly crosses the valley floor just south of Nantlle village, and in so doing provides a lovely surprise view to the right, east across placid Llyn Nantlle Uchaf lake and up the valley towards Snowdon summit, neatly cradled by the valley’s steep sides.

Sadly there is no public access to the lake shore, but you can park in a small lay-by, just before the National Park sign. Handily, there’s a wooden bench here too, so you can take a seat and just enjoy the view – if you don’t mind the odd passing car.