Winter isn’t everybody’s cup of tea – but since we’re forced to have one every year, we might as well make the most of it! Here are five fun things to do in Snowdonia on cold, dreary days.
Given that ‘winter’ is synonymous with cold, wet, windy weather and shorter, darker days, the word ‘enjoy’ in the title of this article might be pushing our luck a bit; perhaps ‘make the most of’ would have been more appropriate!
But winter is inescapable on this island, so as long as we’re stuck with it we may as well find things to do that aren’t overly affected by wind and rain. Here are five wintry things to do in Snowdonia, whatever the weather.
1. Portmeirion and Brondanw
Every winter for many years, Portmeirion have been providing special winter entry vouchers enabling people to visit the famous village for less (or even for free).
This year’s winter entry voucher enables free entry for all visitors on weekdays, and 75% discount on entry fees at weekends. As an added bonus, the voucher can be used to visit Plas Brondanw for a reduced fee, too.
There are a few restrictions to bear in mind (such as special events, number of people covered per voucher, etc) – to find out more and register for your voucher, visit the Portmeirion Village website.
2. Go for a walk
Let’s face it – we do tend to overindulge a bit at Christmas, and pay for it later with weight gain and reduced fitness levels.
With all the open space in Snowdonia, it’s a shame not to take advantage and burn off a few calories with a good old-fashioned walk. And it’s not as if walking in Snowdonia is expensive, so “I spent all my money on Christmas” is no excuse!
Don’t take unnecessary risks with mountain walking: if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could put yourself in danger; so make sure you’re well-equipped and have an experienced guide with you if you’re not an experienced mountain walker yourself. Apart from the scores of mountains in Snowdonia there are of course plenty of wooded areas, miles of open countryside and a lengthy coastline to explore, so lace up your walking boots, wrap up warmly and get your legs moving!
3. Retail therapy
Whether you’re shopping for Christmas gifts and treats or hoping to bag a bargain in the sales, Snowdonia is a fantastic place for shopping. Forget the high street giants – you can see the same old superstores selling the same old products in any town or city all over the UK. In Snowdonia, Christmas shopping is all about locally crafted gifts from locally sourced materials (we have no shortage of slate and wood, for example), and delicious preserves, baked goods, deli items, alcoholic drinks and much more, made right here in Snowdonia from locally produced ingredients.
Winter is the best time of year to visit food and craft fairs; it sometimes seems as if every Snowdonia town and village is hosting a winter produce event of some sort, so take a look at the Events North Wales website to find a fair that’s taking place during your visit to Snowdonia. As well as supporting the local economy it’s a great opportunity to buy really unusual gifts, foods and drinks that you’d struggle to find outside Wales.
4. Go underground
On days when the weather is only attractive to ducks and mermaids, don’t feel obliged to stay indoors by the fire feeling miserable – go underground!
One of the great things about Snowdonia is that so much of the action takes place below the surface – so even if it’s raining cats and dogs, there’s plenty to see and do without getting drenched.
Electric Mountain, Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Sygun Copper Mine, Corris Mine Explorers – these are all excellent attractions if you want to escape the rain and wind, and they’re fun for the whole family too. Check each attraction’s website before you visit, as shorter opening hours may be in operation during winter months.
5. Garden inspiration
On dry days (unless you don’t mind walking in the rain, of course), take a walk around one of Snowdonia’s many parks or gardens and find some inspiration for your spring planting.
Bodnant Garden is always a good bet if you’re looking for gardening ideas. It’s usually closed in winter, but in 2012 for the first time ever they’ll be open in winter – see the National Trust website for details. Brondanw and Portmeirion Village are very inspirational, and Penrhyn Castle’s grounds are also worth a visit in winter (shorter than usual opening hours are in operation during winter months, so again, see the National Trust website for details).
At this time of year, when it’s cold and damp and you’re struggling to see beyond the deep and crisp and even, turning your blue fingers green can be a surprising comfort; visiting other people’s gardens and making plans for your own is a welcome reminder that winter doesn’t last forever, and that spring is just around the corner.