Dolbadarn CastleLlanberis, Snowdonia
To while away an hour or two with the children, or for a quick walk with the dog, Dolbadarn Castle is the ideal attraction! Dominating its own rocky hill, this single turret looks like it has been photoshopped into the most ruggedly beautiful location - blatantly prominent but no better place for it! Panoramic views of the Llanberis Pass, Padarn Lake and Snowdonia mountains can be enjoyed from the top of the uphill climb, making the walk incredibly rewarding!
Perched 80ft above Llyn Padarn, and surrounded by the Snowdonia Mountain Range, Dolbadarn Castle wears the cloak of landscape gracefully, with Llanberis village bowing at its feet. Make your way across the wooden footbridge, up the steep forest pathway to the rocky and grassy outskirts of the land the fortress sits upon. Prepare your lungs for a workout and pack your camera - believe us, it is more than worth it when you get to the top! The outstanding scenery will take what’s left of your breath away, and you will find yourself enchanted by the castle and its history.
Dolbadarn has become a great feature of the village at the foot of Snowdon. Not only can you get a birdseye view of the surrounding area from the top of the tower, but you can see the castle itself from near enough anywhere you stand in Llanberis too. Some of the most glorious views of the fortress can be seen from the distant side of the lake!
Up close, however, you will notice that the turret is much bigger than you first think. It stands 40ft high, and 40ft in diameter. Built of slate and rubble, the walls are an incredible 8 feet thick! The round tower keep is in solid condition and thought to be one of the best surviving examples of a Welsh tower. It was built here as it is a place of great strategic value and functioned as a military fortress as well as a symbol of authority and power.
Dolbadarn Castle has many interesting tales attached to it, but we don’t want to spoil them for you! One of the stories is that of the imprisonment of Owain ap Gruffydd, which inspired a castle study by Joseph Mallord William Turner; that resulted in a series of dramatic romantic landscape paintings and sketches which are among some of his most famous works! This majestic tower once stood three storeys high, containing a complex series of chambers. Only the main shell can be seen today, however, as there are no battlements or wall walk left to see. Don’t let this deter you though, there are still plenty of fascinating features to be seen. The castle would have been entered by the first floor, with only a small internal trap door leading to the basement. The first-floor entrance was once heavily defended with portcullis and doorways barricaded by drawbars but now has restored external stairs for public access. Once these stairs have been climbed, you can look straight down to the bottom of the inside of the tower. Unfortunately, all traces of flooring have disappeared, but remains of the interior staircase can be spotted! Here you can look through the several windows of the tower with the eyes of its occupants, imagining the lives they had once lived.
Originally there would have been another two rectangular shaped towers as well as a large hall and curtain wall - little of these remain today, although the lower foundations of these outbuildings indicate the outline of the structures like a blueprint on the grass. The children will love nothing more than rolling down the grassy hillside and walking along the low slate walls, while you soak in the spectacular countryside before heading back to the Llanberis village for a bite to eat or a nosy around the shops!
Daily: 10am-4pm, all year round. Excluding the 24th, 25th and 26th December, and 1st January.
Phone number: 01443 336000
There is no designated picnic spot, but plenty of grassy areas ideal for setting out a blanket for a spot of lunch.
Pay and display parking on the left-hand side of the road leading to the castle. From here, just cross the road over a footbridge which takes you straight to the castle. There are other public car parks (pay and display) beside the Canolfan Llanberis, in front of The Royal Victoria Hotel and at the front of Padarn Lake too.
Not wheelchair or pushchair accessible due to its location (grounds of various levels and floor surfaces, etc).
Dogs are welcome on leads. The grounds are mostly fenced.
Other useful info
- Leaving the castle through the gate, if you veer left you will head uphill through the forest to a great space for the dog to run around or to spot squirrels. See if you can find the hollow tree!
- If you go straight ahead once you have left the castle through the gate, you can follow a slim pathway to the car park beside the ticket office, and turning right after going through the gate will return you to the car park over the footbridge.
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