Mile after mile of lush green vegetation, fertile countryside and ancient woodlands – criss-crossed by narrow-gauge railways, cycle paths and a seemingly endless network of public footpaths – Snowdonia is green in more ways than one…
Like the rest of Wales, Snowdonia is green all year round. We have the rain to thank for that – and that’s why we tend not to complain too much when it rains in Snowdonia; we know it’s keeping the region green and fertile and – even if we do say so ourselves – beautiful.
But the word ‘green’ has another meaning, of course. “Green” is another way of saying “environmentally friendly” – and it’s another type of green that we take very seriously in Snowdonia.
Green travel and transport in Snowdonia
A major advantage of leaving the car at home in favour of public transport – if sustainability isn’t reason enough – is that when you’re driving, you’ll be too busy concentrating on the road to fully appreciate Snowdonia’s spectacular scenery. Travel to Snowdonia by train or coach, on the other hand, and you’ll be able to watch the mountains, rivers, forests and coastline to your heart’s content.
Snowdonia is well-served by public transport, with Virgin’s West Coast train line serving the North Wales coast up to Holyhead, and Arriva Trains Wales serving the same stretch of line (change at Llandudno Junction for trains to the Conwy Valley and Blaenau Ffestiniog). Arriva also serve stations from Pwllheli to Machynlleth, and routes to Dovey Junction from Birmingham and Shrewsbury. There are also regular coach services into Snowdonia from major towns and cities around the UK.
Once you’ve arrived in Snowdonia (even if you came by car), there are plenty of environmentally friendly ways to explore the region.
One of the nicest ways to see Snowdonia is from a steam train; there are several narrow gauge railways criss-crossing Snowdonia, from the Talyllyn Railway in Southern Snowdonia to the Welsh Highland Railway which, from spring 2011, will run from Caernarfon all the way to Porthmadog through some of Snowdonia’s best-loved scenery. You can even travel by train to the top of Snowdon, or around the lakes at Llyn Bala and Llyn Padarn.
Bus travel is also excellent throughout Snowdonia. As well as regular bus services connecting rural areas with towns and cities, the Snowdon Sherpa service is well worth a ride. One of the best stops on the Sherpa service is Pen y Pass, the highest point in Snowdonia that you can reach by road and very popular with visitors – which means that unless you’re up at the crack of dawn, parking there can be extremely difficult. Ride the Sherpa service on a day pass and not only will you leave any parking frustrations behind, but you’ll also be able to travel throughout Snowdonia for a whole day for much less than it would have cost in fuel.
The greenest way to travel of all, though, is by bike; the only pollution you’ll produce is a bit of steam once you’ve worked up a sweat with all that pedalling, but Snowdonia’s mountain lakes, crystal-clear rivers and award-winning beaches will soon cool you down. Wales has a thousand miles of cycle paths on the National Cycle Network, and many cycle paths will take you through some of Snowdonia’s most breathtaking scenery.
Snowdonia’s green attractions
Tourist attractions don’t come much greener than Snowdonia’s great outdoors. With mile after mile of natural beauty, it would take a very hard heart indeed to fail to enjoy all that’s truly magnificent about Snowdonia: the mountains, the coastline, the rivers and forests, and the care that goes into keeping Snowdonia’s open spaces wild and free.
Walking is a fantastic way to enjoy Snowdonia. There’s the Llyn Coastal Path, which takes you right around the Llyn Peninsula, and the countless routes up Snowdon, for starters. Fancy a gentler walk? Take a sunset stroll along one of Snowdonia’s many stunning beaches, and don’t forget your camera; the sunsets in Snowdonia, facing west across the Irish Sea, are fantastic.
If you’re looking for green attractions in Snowdonia with more appeal to younger members of your group, make sure you check out the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, and Greenwood Forest Park just outside Caernarfon, with its famous people-powered rollercoaster.
“Locally produced” means fewer food miles
Imagine fresh meat from livestock reared practically on your doorstep. Fish and seafood from rivers and sea a stone’s throw away. Fresh fruit and veg produced locally. Preserves, cakes, bread, and dairy products, all produced literally just down the road. When we talk about ‘local produce’, we really do mean ‘local’.
You’ll find locally produced food and drink of all sorts in Snowdonia, where the food miles are fewer and the food tastes better for it. Award winning sausages, locally brewed beer, genuine Snowdonia-distilled spirits, and all the fresh meat, seafood and cheese you could wish for, right here on our doorstep.
We don’t keep it to ourselves, either. Many of Snowdonia’s best restaurants, hotels and pubs serve delicious home-cooked meals made from locally sourced produce. And you can take it home with you, too; Snowdonia has many excellent farm shops, farmers’ markets, butchers, fishmongers and delicatessens, selling everything from jam to lobster. Go home heavy-laden, by all means… just make sure there’s enough left for the locals!
Find out more
If you’d like to know more about sustainability in Snowdonia, you may find the following links helpful.
Snowdonia Green Key – the aim of the Snowdonia Green Key is to successfully develop the countryside in a sustainable way, with improved economic returns for local businesses, and an improved, flexible public transport system for all. At the Snowdonia Green Key website you can find out more about the Snowdon Sherpa service, outdoor activities and much more.
Discover Gwynedd – discover Gwynedd’s wealth of wildlife, culture, heritage and local produce. The Discover Gwynedd website celebrates the beauty and diversity of Gwynedd’s Gwynedd’s iconic sites for Mountains; Woods & Rivers; Coast & Sea.
Green Snowdonia – supports and promotes the adoption of sustainable practices by the tourism industry, showcasing and rewarding best practice.
Dyfi Biosphere – the Dyfi valley is home to Wales’ first new style world class UNESCO Biosphere – a special place where conservation and sustainable development go hand in hand.
About this post
This post was inspired by an article in the 2011 Snowdonia Mountains and Coast brochure, written by the brochure’s editor, Roger Thomas. Roger’s excellent article is written in the form of a diary of a day spent travelling around Snowdonia by train and bus.