The highlands of Southern Snowdonia in North Wales are greener and rounder than those of rocky Snowdon – but they’re still seriously mountainous. Dolgellau’s Cadair Idris and the Aran and Arennig above Bala are lofty outposts, looking down across a landscape of traditional farmland, forest and outstandingly beautiful lakes. Exploring Southern Snowdonia is pure pleasure. Quiet mountain roads twist and climb into high country, narrow-gauge railways run alongside lakes and through vales, and in the Coed-y-Brenin Forest there’s world-class mountain biking and walking.
Snowdonia National Park Authority : www.eryri.llyw.cymru
The Snowdonia National Park, situated in North Wales covers an area of 838 square miles (2,170 square km)and has 37 miles (60km) of coastline, it was the first to be designated of the three National Parks in Wales, in 1951. It takes it’s name from Snowdon the highest mountain in Wales which stands at 3,560ft (1,085m).Snowdonia may be divided into four areas: The northernmost area is the most popular with tourists, and includes (from west to east) Moel Hebog, Mynydd Mawr and the Nantlle Ridge; the Snowdon Massif; the Glyderau; and the Carneddau. These last three groups are the highest mountains in Wales, and include all Wales’ 3000-foot mountains. The second area includes peaks such as Moel Siabod, Cnicht, the Moelwynion, and the mountains around Blaenau Ffestiniog. The third area includes the Rhinogydd in the west as well as the Arenig and the Migneint (this last being an area of bog), and Rhobell Fawr. This area is not as popular with tourists as the other areas, due to its remoteness. The southernmost area includes Cadair Idris, the Tarren range, the Dyfi hills, and the Aran group, including Aran Fawddwy, the highest mountain in the United Kingdom south of Snowdon Many of the hikers in the area concentrate on Snowdon itself. It is regarded as a fine mountain, but can become quite crowded, particularly with the Snowdon Mountain Railway running to the summit. The other high mountains with their boulder-strewn summits—as well as Tryfan, one of the few mountains in the UK south of Scotland whose ascent needs hands as well as feet—are also very popular. However, there are also some spectacular walks in Snowdonia on the lower mountains, and they tend to be relatively unfrequented. Among hikers’ favourites are Y Garn (east of Llanberis) along the ridge to Elidir Fawr; Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd (west of Snowdon) along the Nantlle Ridge to Mynydd Drws-y-Coed; Moelwyn Mawr (west of Blaenau Ffestiniog); and Pen Llithrig y Wrach north of Capel Curig. Further south are Y Llethr in the Rhinogydd, and Cadair Idris near Dolgellau.
The Park has 1,479 miles (2,380 km) of public footpaths, 164 miles (264 km) of public bridleways, and 46 miles (74 km) of other public rights of way. A large part of the Park is also covered by Right to Roam laws. With a wealth of picturesque villages such as Betws-y-Coed and Beddgelert, Snowdonia is an area steeped in culture and local history, where more than half its population speak Welsh, Europe’s oldest living language. This beautiful area is old in culture, with traditions in poetry and music that may date back to the Bronze Age. No wonder the deep valleys seem still to hold the echo of the myths, legends and bardic traditions of the past. The relics of the past lie undisturbed still in the hills the Neolithic stone circles, the Bronze Age chambers, the fortifications of the Celtic Iron Age, the Roman fort, and the monuments of the great Welsh princes.
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