Following our recent stay in Pale Hall (for review click here) we decided to pay a visit to some of our favourite parts of North Wales, before heading home.
Bala to Llyn Celyn
We woke up at the hotel to beautiful sunshine. We headed from Bala on the A4212. Our first stop was at Llyn Celyn, somewhere I hadn’t visited since I was a child. It was a favourite destination for a family picnic, it hadn’t changed.
Llyn Celyn is a reservoir servicing Liverpool, nestling in the foothills of Snowdonia. It is situated on the site of the village of Capel Celyn which was flooded in the early 1960’s to create the reservoir. In August 2018 the old Bala to Ffestiniog railway appeared from its watery grave. This was due to the very low level of water caused by the exceptionally hot summer we had.
It is certainly a beautiful spot and worth a visit.
Llyn Celyn to Porthmadog
From Llyn Celyn we headed towards Trawsfynydd. Trawsfynydd is the home of another large lake and the site of one of the first nuclear power stations in the UK. The power station was decommissioned in the early 90’s and the lake is now a popular spot for water sports.
From here we headed for Porthmadog. If you have time it’s worth doing a slight detour towards the slate town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Here you will find the famous Llechwedd Slate Mines, where you can explore the slate mines on the deepest cable railway in the UK. For the more adventurous there is also Zip World where you can experience zip wire trips both above and below ground!
The scenery on this leg of the trip is stunning. Driving along the estuary with the mighty peaks of Snowdon in the distance is breathtaking.
Another place worth a visit just before you get to Porthmadog is the Italianate village of Portmeirion. Designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis over a 50 year period between 1925 and 1975. It is modelled on Portofino in Italy. It has beautiful sub tropical gardens, shops, cafes and 2 luxury hotels if you fancy staying over.
Porthmadog is a bustling town popular with day trippers and holiday makers. It has a thriving high street, with plenty of choice for eating, drinking ans shopping.
It’s also home to 2 of the most spectacular railways in the UK. The Ffestiniog railway which runs through Snowdonia from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog and the Welsh Highland railway which runs from Porthmadog to Caernarfon. Both give you an opportunity to travel at a leisurely pace on steam operated trains through some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK.
Borth-y-Gest and Black Rock Sands
As it was such a beautiful day rather than stopping in town we decided to head for the beach.
First of all we called at Borth-y-Gest, a pretty Victorian village looking over Tremadog Bay and the stunning Snowdonia mountains.
We took a walk along the coastal path and just outside the village there is a beautiful beach. Definitely a lovely spot for hotter summer days.
We then drove to Black Rock Sands a vast expanse of golden sand with views of Cricceth Castle and the Lleyn Peninsular. Unusually you can actually drive on to the beach and park up. In the summer this is very popular with holidaymakers from the nearby holiday parks and can get very busy.
On the day we visited there were only a few visitors with the beach stretching for miles. It made us think whether we were actually in North Wales or the Mediterranean!
Porthmadog to Betws-y-Coed
Now the most scenic part of our trip. From Porthmadog we headed up the beautiful Aberglasyn Pass to Beddgelert.
Beddgelert is a very pretty village popular with walkers. There are river walks for those who want a gentle stroll. For the more energetic you can walk up Cnicht, known as the Welsh Matterhorn or Moel Hebog another spectacular Snowdonia peak, directly from the village.
From here we drove deep in to the heart of Snowdonia. We drove up the Nant Gwynant Pass, one of my favourite Snowdonia drives.
From the top of the pass you get magnificent views of Lyn Gwynant in the valley below and the Snowdon Horseshoe which includes Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) itself the tallest mountain in Wales.
The scenery in this area is stunning. After passing through the mountaineers’ village of Capel Curig you reach the pretty village of Betws-y- Coed, where you will find plenty of cafes for refreshments and some good shops for some retail therapy.
Betws-y-Coed to Llandudno
We now headed back to the coast. Following the Conwy Valley towards one of my favourite towns Conwy. If you have time try the Welsh afternoon tea at Tu-Hwnt-I’r Bont in Llanwrst.
A couple of places of interest to try along the way; Gwydir Castle – one of the finest tudor houses in Wales and the Roman Spa and woolen mill in Trefriw. We stopped for a late lunch at the Groes Inn, allegedly the oldest pub in Wales, I would highly recommend their Fish and Chips.
I have written about Conwy in a previous post (click here), it is a must on any visit to North Wales. In my opinion it has the most spectacular of all the castles in Wales and a walk around the walls and along the quay is something I never tire of. Don’t forget to try the pork pies and sausages from Edwards the Butchers, delicious!
The final stop for the day was the largest seaside resort in North Wales, Llandudno. A beautifully preserved Victorian resort with a sweeping promenade, an impressive pier and dominated by the Great Orme, a massive limestone headland jutting out in to the Irish Sea. Llandudno is a great place for a weekend break with some excellent hotels and restaurants to try.
From Llandudno we headed home. This is just one of many day trip itineraries available in North Wales, I am planning more and will keep you updated on my favourites.
The Guestbooks Comment: “A great trip taking in some of the most stunning scenery in Wales, if not the UK. We are so fortunate to have all this on our doorstep.”