Quite often in hostel common rooms and bars around the world, conversation drifts towards the UK and places people have visited, lived or worked. One part of the UK rarely features though. People wax lyrical about London’s historical architecture, Edinburgh’s castle and ruins yet Wales is usually missing from their travel itinerary.
For me, North Wales has always been a place to escape the realities of life at home. Back in the days before WiFi and 3G, camping in Wales was the perfect way to disconnect. My family had a caravan on a holiday park in Caernarfon and we treated the area like a playground, only touching base with our parents for meals and sleep. Within walking distance, there was a two mile long sand and pebble beach, marshland, bomb shelters and a Roman Fort. Putting it like that, it almost sounds like a setting from a Famous Five story.
There’s so much beauty packed into such a small area. Ancient castles decorate a stunning coastline and the peaks of Snowdonia are a constant awe striking presence.
Although it wasn’t really until I left the UK that I truly valued the area and what a great part of the world it is to travel. It also became to clear to me that Wales for a long time hadn’t been doing a great job of promoting itself to backpackers. Amongst the British, many associate it with wet childhood camping trips and outside of Britain, it barely gets a mention at all.
The allure of North Wales has always been its tranquillity although there are signs that its looking to appeal to a different crowd .
Zip World in particular, seems to have made the decision that if you want adventure in the UK, you should head for the Welsh mountains! In 2012,they opened longest zip line in Europe( And there can’t be many with better views)! It was later followed up by an underground adventure with Bounce Below, a series of trampolines, suspended high below the floor of the slate caverns of Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Surf Snowdonia also joined the party in 2015, opening an artificial wave pool near Conwy, designed for surfers of any proficiency, with waves coming at a rate of 18 an hour with a peak of 2 metres.
The added bonus, even for experts, being that you’re never sat around waiting for a wave! Prices vary from £19-£40 and if you need tuition two hours will set you back £80.
Before these additions though, North Wales was always an awesome place to seek advenure. Snowdon is the perfect place for a hike offering views all over Snowdonia, Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula.with routes for all levels of fitness(detailed at Visit Snowdonia).
A more challenging hike is Snowdon’s neighbour, Tryfan although that climb is not for your beginner hikers and climbers. I may tell my own calamitous (nearly disastrous)story from Tryfan another time).
You can also take pleasure flights over the region from Caernarfon Airport from £70 per person.
For those who fancy a more leisurely day, I recommend Cwm Idwal. It’s about a 30 mins drive away from Bangor and offers incredible views of Ogwen Valley including(if you’re lucky)the surreal feeling of RAF fighter jets flying below where you stand.
There is a charge for the car park for longer stay visitor so take a a couple of quid change and couple of quid for the cakes and hot drinks at the snack bar to warm you up after your walk.
The best airport for North Wales is well….in England from Liverpool (over an hour by train before you hit the Welsh coast ) or Manchester. There’s also a back way in – via Dublin, Irish Ferries service runs a service to Anglesey up to 4 times per day (duration 2 hours) while the Stena Line service runs up to 4 times per day duration 3 hr 21 min. The price varies but I once paid a fiver return, so it’s always worth a look. From London, trains to Chester or Liverpool are probably your best shout but book a few weeks in advance (Sorry for the UK’s horrific train prices).
North Wales is on the up! Get there before the secrets out and its overran by adrenaline junkies!
Whats your favourite part of North Wales? Also, if you need a hint or tip on where to stay or where to go for meals, don’t hesitate to ask! Likewise, I welcome any suggestions! I’m always looking for new spots to explore.
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