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Llanberis: the gateway to Snowdonia

For somewhere with a modest population of 1,954 residents, Llanberis is jam-packed with an array of attractions, eateries and leisure activities. For such a small village, it has a surprising amount to offer which makes it one of the best locations for a family holiday. Let’s make our way from the bottom to the top.

The High Street

On the doorstep you have a selection of cafes and shops. Llanberis being famous for its endless walks and outstanding views, the High Street has row after row of facilities to fuel your adventures and to treat yourself.

One of the most popular cafes is Pete’s Eats, which is renowned for it’s all day breakfast. You will often see a group of cyclists, walkers or climbers taking a pit-stop here to enjoy the mammoth ‘Extra Large Breakfast’ – large enough to fill a grown man for a week! Continue down the High Street lined with a variety of shops and you can treat yourself to some top of the range sports gear from the Joe Brown shop or perhaps a memoir of your trip. One of my personal favourites is the Honey Farm and winery that sells every type of jam, marmalade, chutney, mead and fudge imaginable, as well as Traditional Welsh love spoons and homemade scarves. Just next door is The Heights, the ‘go-to’ pub among all the locals. What better way to end your stroll than to sit outside with a pint watching the world go by?

Attractions and activities

Parallel to the high street is Llyn Padarn, a lake stretching two miles long. Around the lake you have a fantastic 2-3 hour walk stopping at the historic Welsh Slate Museum (free entry). From here you can admire the old Victorian workshops and listen in on talks and demonstrations for a better insight into quarrymen’s life. If this takes your fancy you must make a detour to the Old Quarry Hospital and squirm at the sight of the aged medical equipment used to treat injured quarrymen, including amputation tools!  Just follow the footpath from the Slate Museum – the views across the lake to Snowdon are good from here too.

If however, you would prefer to be on the lake than around it, Snowdonia Watersports is the place for you. On offer is a 2 hour, half day or full day action-packed session of kayaking, coasteering or paddle boarding to name a few activities. If you’re feeling brave, why not go for a swim in the lake? You certainly wouldn’t be the first!

Llyn Padarn is central to many other superb attractions too, including:

Llanberis Falls –  Also known as Ceunant Mawr Waterfall, translating as the waterfall of the great ravine, is set a few hundred metres from the town centre. This waterfall plunges over a hundred feet into a gorge in two stages, broken by a deep, rocky pool. Definitely worth a visit to truly appreciate nature at it’s finest as the water plummets down, rattling your ears with the crashing sound of water rushing and feeling the spray on your face as it hits the rocks.

Electric Mountain – Electric Mountain is First Hydro Company’s Visitor Centre in Llanberis and is the starting point of the tour of Dinorwig Power Station. The power station itself is located 750 meters inside the mountain Eilidir Fawr surrounded by 16km of underground tunnels. In the centre you can learn about the inner workings of Electric Mountain, grab a bite to eat, visit the gift shop, entertain the children in ‘The Den’ and ‘Genius Corner’ and also hire rooms for parties, meetings and everything in between!

Llanberis Lake Railway – This train journey is an hour long return ride led by a vintage train engine that travels five miles around Llyn Padarn. Ride along and you will get to see Dolbadarn castle and Llanberis’ twin lakes, with the chance to stop at Cei Llydan for a picnic at the water’s edge too.

Dolbadarn Castle – This is a 13th century castle built by Welsh Prince Llywleyn ap Iorwerth. Llywelyn imprisoned his older brother Owain ap Gruffydd for 20 years on the upper floor of the castle during the 1250’s. The castle remained active until nearly 1300, but in 1282 the castle was seized by the English Army, only to be abandoned two years later. This is a stunning, historical site overlooking the lake right next to a wonderful walk through the forest.

Above: My very own painting of Dolbadarn Castle!

Beyond Dolbadarn castle, heading towards Pen-Y-Pass (Snowdon mountain pass) the ground is scattered with huge boulders and rocks where many keen climbers go to tackle the rock faces and go weaseling or bouldering. If adrenaline is what you’re after, Gaia Adventures is the answer. This group of professionals can help improve your mountain climbing skills, take you out on day courses or guide you on a cliff camping trip. This has got to be one of the best ways to embrace the rural landscape of Snowdonia.

The ‘high point’ of your holiday

This brings us to the grand finale – the highest mountain in Wales and England reaching 1,085 meters above sea level. Annual sporting events such as the famous Three Peaks Challenge and The Slateman Triathlon attracts swarms of people from all around to the village at the foot of Snowdon. This creates a fun, bustling atmosphere during the summer. With six different routes up Snowdon the walk can be completed by novice or experienced walkers. If, like me, you want to enjoy the views without all the hard work, you will be glad to know that you can skip straight to the summit (most part of the year) on the Snowdon Mountain Railway ending at Hafod Eryri – Snowdon Summit Visitor Centre. Here you can sit staring at the panoramic view with a cuppa in hand and learn all about the legendary land that is Snowdonia National Park.

Where to Stay

We have a range of self-catering holiday cottages in Llanberis, and the surrounding area of Snowdonia. They are all within close range of Bangor and Caernarfon. Feel free to call us on 01248 430258 if you have any questions.

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