Mountains, coast, open countryside, woodlands – if you enjoy walking, you couldn’t pick a better venue than Snowdonia! Here’s our pick of Snowdonia’s walking routes for the more energetic among you…
If we were to hazard a guess at the most popular outdoor activity in Snowdonia, walking would be close to the top of the list – if not at the very top.
It’s no surprise, really; with so much outdoor space and such a huge variety of terrains, visitors to the area want to explore as much as possible, and there’s no better way to do that than on foot.
But where to start when you’re walking in Snowdonia? There are so many fantastic walking routes to choose from, it’s difficult to know which ones to try out first. So take a look at our handy guide to the types of walks available in Snowdonia, and start ticking them off your ‘to do’ list!
Let’s start with the more ‘obvious’ walking routes in Snowdonia – namely, those up in the mountains. Snowdonia has more than 90 summits over 2,000 feet, and 15 summits over 3,000 feet. That’s a lot of mountains!
The mountain most visitors are keen to conquer is Snowdon, of course; it is, after all, the highest mountain in Wales and England. There are six official walking paths up the mountain and they vary in length and difficulty – which will you take?
Cadair Idris, in southern Snowdonia, is also popular with walkers – it’s one of the most southerly high mountains in the UK and is steeped in folklore and fairy tales, including a warning which says that anyone who spends a night on the mountain’s slopes will awake the next morning either a poet or a lunatic!
From the Rhinogydd to the Arennigs, from the Moelwyns to the Glyders, if mountains are your preferred walking terrain you’ve come to the right place!
There are some excellent coastal walks in Snowdonia, and you couldn’t hope for a greater variety of beaches. Sandy, squeaky, pebbly, rocky; sheltered, wide or long – Snowdonia’s beaches are, in a word, fabulous.
The ‘big one’ where coastal walking in Snowdonia is concerned is the Wales Coast Path, which starts at Chepstow and ends at Queensferry – a total of 870 miles. Snowdonia’s coast accounts for about 180 miles of the Path. The Gwynedd Coastal Path (a development of the Llyn Coastal Path) stretches from Llanfairfechan to Machynlleth. The route includes stunning and diverse scenery, including mountains, cliffs, sandy beaches and secluded little coves – take your pick!
The Cambrian Railways ‘seaside strolls’ routes include walks from Aberdyfi to Tywyn, Llanaber to Talybont, and Abererch to Pwllheli. These routes are designed to complement journeys on the Cambrian Railway, which provides train services from England across Wales and along the Welsh coast from Machynlleth to Pwllheli.
Lonydd Glas – Gwynedd Recreational Routes
The Gwynedd Recreational Routes (or Lonydd Glas) offer safe, traffic-free walking and cycling routes that are ideal for all the family. There are over 30 miles of Lonydd Glas routes in Gwynedd, running along disused railway lines and occasionally those still in use by the steam railways (this is a welcome added attraction for the kids, who’ll love to wave at passengers as the trains puff by). These quiet rural paths take you deep into the Snowdonia countryside, acting as natural corridors through which wildlife can travel through the countryside under cover.
If you’d like to combine walking and history, Snowdonia’s got that covered too! Many of Snowdonia’s walking routes have their roots in history, one way or another. For example, you could follow the Pilgrim’s Way, from Bangor Cathedral to the island of Bardsey off the tip of the Llyn Peninsula; along the way you’ll discover some wonderful and often surprising old churches. The Mary Jones Walk, in the Bala area, follows the route walked by a barefoot young girl who, in the year 1800, walked 25 miles to buy a bible. The Slate Valleys Paths, from the 1800s to the early 20th century, linked the slate quarries to the villages, schools and chapels and are of great significance given the area’s industrial history. And then there are walks attached to historic buildings – like through the woodland at Glynllifon Park, near Caernarfon, where you’ll find plenty of fascinating historic surprises along the way (think follies, fountains and hermitages – you get the picture!)
Snowdonia’s nature walks are fantastic for younger walkers – even those in pushchairs! Often, they combine walking with other activities, such as in Coed y Brenin Forest Park which is perhaps better known as a mountain biking centre but which offers excellent opportunities for family walks. At Padarn Country Park, your family can combine nature trails with industrial history walks, as well as a great variety of other activities like high ropes courses, watersports and climbing. Snowdonia National Park has seventeen nature reserves – more than in any other National Park in England and Wales – as well as 56 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. These nature reserves, which include Cwm Idwal and Gwaith Powdwr, offer excellent opportunities for both walking and wildlife watching; activities that can be treasured by visitors of all ages.