We’re just back from a few days travelling around Wales. We had booked the weekend at Bodysgallen Hall and Spa driving from Bath and back to Cardiff as part of the trip.
I’d planned to take the scenic route to enjoy more of our time exploring North Wales not the faster motorway. Turns out there is really only one principal route North to South (or South to North) in Wales. The A470. Don’t worry this is not an ode to a road (that was written by someone else for the A272) but our route to discovering Snowdonia National Park.
Established in 1951 this national park covers over 800 square miles of Welsh countryside, stretching from the ‘middle’ up to the North and West coasts. The landscape runs from beautiful coastline to majestic hills and mountains, peaked by Snowdonia itself.
We still haven’t made it to Snowdonia itself (that’s further over towards Bangor) but we did drive through it twice during our travel. On the return trip home the roads were almost deserted allowing us time to meander and experience just a fraction of this wonderful scenery.
The weekend weather had been chilly but no snow. As we ascended into the park, we realised it was a different story up here. In the distance the mountains had their first dusting of snow, and along the roadside were puddles of slush where snow had recently fallen.
As the roads undulated we would follow a bend to be greeted with the most amazing views. Luckily there are plenty of stopping places to hope out and grab a shot.
For many miles there was only pockets of civilisation. We fuelled up in an isolated by friendly fuel station where everyone but us were speaking Welsh. I couldn’t understand a word of what they said but loved the soft lilt of their accent. Occasionally, we’d see a memory of previous farming on the land.
The few large towns we drove through had their own personalities. Betws-y-Coed is possibly the most famous town on the route – home of the Snowdonia visitors centre, close to the Zip World where you hurtle down a zip wire in not much more than a sleeping bag.
In the heart of the park is what we call, ‘Slate Town.’ More commonly known as Blaenau Ffestiniog, this town was once a thriving slate mine. The hillsides are covered in slate giving the whole place a ‘grey’ feel – like a science fiction town where all the resources have been spent. Actually it is a very popular tourist place with the slate caverns and the Ffestiniog Railway.
We stuck to the main road during our trip North to South and I expect there to be even more wonderful views and places to explore if we get off the beaten track. That will have to wait for another day.
My thanks go to Richard at Cambrian Safaris for showing me the way.