We take a look at the Southern Snowdonia towns of Bala, Dolgellau, Corris and Dinas Mawddwy. There’s plenty to see and do in this beautiful part of the country.
The Southern Snowdonia towns of Bala, Dolgellau, Corris and Dinas Mawddwy are set in stunning surroundings, where lakes, mountains, rivers and forests provide ample opportunity for outdoor adventuring. But there are also more relaxing activities like shopping, historic sites and family-friendly attractions to keep you occupied on days when you’re feeling less active.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular activities and attractions Southern Snowdonia has to offer visitors.
For those with an interest in history, there are many historic sites in Southern Snowdonia to add to your ‘must-visit’ list.
The Quaker Heritage Centre in Dolgellau offers a fascinating glimpse into the trials and tribulations of the area’s 17th century Quaker community. Persecuted for their beliefs, a large number of Quakers emigrated to Pennsylvania to practise their faith undisturbed.
While you’re in Dolgellau, take a look around you and notice how old the buildings are. More than 200 of Dolgellau’s buildings (including farmhouses, barns and even the local hospital) have listed status – the highest concentration in Wales.
The area around Dinas Mawddwy is rife with Arthurian legend. For example, a local field – Camlann – is said to be the location of Arthur’s final battle.
Bala’s medieval street layout is still very much apparent, and if Norman and medieval history are of particular interest to you it’s worth visiting Tomen y Bala, the remains of a Norman motte and bailey castle mound.
Southern Snowdonia is a wonderful place for walking – there’s so much stunning countryside to walk in, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
The Mary Jones Walk in Bala (which, incidentally, is a Walkers Are Welcome town) is very popular. Following this 25-mile route will give you an understanding of the harsh journey made by a young girl in 1800 to buy a bible.
For family walks, Coed y Brenin is a tough one to beat (and as it’s a leading mountain biking centre, you might want to spend part of your visit on two wheels instead of two legs). The walking and cycling trails are suitable for a variety of proficiency levels, and there’s a fantastic adventure playground for kids too.
If you fancy something a little more challenging, we have two suggestions for you. The first is Bwlch y Groes, the highest mountain pass in Wales. The second is the mighty Cadair Idris, the mountain of which it is said that anyone spending a night on its slopes will descend the next morning either a poet or a madman.
If you’re visiting Southern Snowdonia with children, there’s plenty to keep them occupied.
Ty Siamas in Dolgellau is a museum dedicated to Welsh folk music. It’s pretty hands-on; your young ones will be able to try a variety of different instruments while they learn about Wales’ musical heritage.
In Corris is the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), where you’ll learn all about environmentally friendly living and have the opportunity to ride a water-balanced cliff railway (one of the steepest in the world, in fact). This is another ‘hands-on’ attraction, so it’s lots of fun for kids.
Also in Corris is a veritable feast of things to see and do at King Arthur’s Labyrinth, which finds novel ways to tell visitors about the ancient warlord’s feats in Snowdonia all those centuries ago. One of these is an underground boat ride through ancient tunnels – slightly spooky but fascinating nevertheless!
Another train ride worth mentioning is the delightful steam railway running around the perimeter of Llyn Tegid in Bala, which is a fun attraction for visitors of all ages.
If you love exploring independent shops and traditional markets, Southern Snowdonia is the place to be.
At Corris there’s Corris Craft Centre, where you’ll have an opportunity to browse and buy a variety of beautiful handmade goods including jewellery, leather goods and candles.
Near Bala you’ll find the Glassblobbery, where beautiful glass goods are made in the workshop then sold in the shop.
At Dinas Mawddwy is Meirion Mill, which sells a wide range of woollen goods, gifts, souvenirs and home wares.
And Dolgellau is still every bit the market town, with its farmers’ market on the third Sunday of each month and a furniture and household goods auction on the third Thursday of every month.
Bala is known as the Welsh Lake District, so take advantage of all that lovely water and take part in a few exciting watersports during your visit.
Llyn Tegid – the largest natural lake in Wales – is a watersports enthusiast’s dream, with sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and kayaking all available. There’s also Gwersyll yr Urdd Glan-llyn, which offers a similar array of activities (and many others) to visiting families and school groups on a residential basis.
And for the thrill-seekers among you there’s the National White Water Centre at Canolfan Tryweryn – the place to be if you’d like to give white water rafting a go.