If you’re planning your first-ever visit to Snowdonia, what can you expect? In this article we destroy a few myths about the area, and explain our love for a man who may not even have existed…
Snowdonia: the land of dragons, steam engines that can talk, copious munching of leeks and seaweed, and perpetual rain… or is it?
There are four things you should know about Snowdonia before you visit: the sun does shine sometimes, couch potatoes love it just as much as active folks do, the food is absolutely amazing and yes, we are more interested than the average person in King Arthur.
Prepare to be astounded…
1. The weather
It doesn’t always rain in Snowdonia. Yes, we do get perhaps a little more than our fair share during the ‘summer’ months when London and the South East are baking, but we tend to get our summers a little earlier in Snowdonia instead. May and June are good months to visit if you’re hoping for sunnier weather. September and October can also be surprisingly mild.
Snowdonia’s weather can be extremely changeable, not just from one month to the next but literally from one village to the next! We can thank our mountains for that. This does of course mean that if you’re out walking – particularly on higher ground – you need to be prepared for every eventuality. But we’re used to that, by now.
But as much as we love to complain about the weather in the UK, here in Snowdonia we appreciate the effect the wet weather has on the scenery… well, where else would all that greenness come from?
2. King Arthur
Pretty much every lake, mountain, rock and footpath in Snowdonia has a connection – however tenuous – to King Arthur, whose very existence has never been proved once and for all. There’s even a hoofprint in the southern end of Snowdonia that legend tells us was made by Arthur’s horse.
Arthur’s sword appeared from, or was returned to, several lakes in Snowdonia. You’d be forgiven for thinking the Lady of the Lake gave the poor old Once and Future King a bit of a runaround, if you were to believe every local story about Excalibur. And there are several places claiming to be the site of his final, fatal battle – and, for that matter, claiming to be Avalon.
While we’re not exactly ‘obsessed’, we do tend to take Arthur pretty seriously in Snowdonia. We may not be able to prove he existed – not yet, anyway, but that day will surely come – nor that any of the stories about his heroic and chivalric deeds are actually true. But we can enjoy the good old Welsh tradition of storytelling, and if it’s stories about Arthur you’re after, head to King Arthur’s Labyrinth in Corris to hear more about him… while travelling underground in a boat, through a subterranean cave. Seriously.
3. You don’t have to be active to enjoy Snowdonia
You’ve heard that Snowdonia is the number one outdoor activities centre in Great Britain, and that doesn’t appeal to you. That’s fine, we quite understand; stand-up paddleboarding, coasteering, gigantic underground trampolines and super-fast ziplines hundreds of feet above the ground are obviously not everybody’s cup of tea.
There are also scores of heritage attractions like castles, hill forts, burial chambers, ancient churches, miraculous wells, historic houses and Roman ruins, if history is your passion.
For families there are dozens of child-friendly attractions, like eco-friendly theme parks, places to meet fairies, giant slides and ball parks, petting farms, go-karts and of course a seaside that stretches for 200 miles.
For culture vultures there are plenty of museums, art galleries and theatres – not to mention cinemas where you can watch obscure independent films as well as Hollywood blockbusters.
And let’s not forget shopping until dropping; there are some fantastic places to shop in Snowdonia, whether you prefer high street chains or local arts and crafts.
4. There’s more to eat than just seaweed
In Snowdonia, there’s much more to food than leeks, laverbread and Welsh rarebit. Forget every cliche you’ve ever heard about Welsh food, this instant – because Welsh food is fresh, local and pretty amazing!
We have award-winning restaurants aplenty in Snowdonia. Chefs that are champing at the bit to do something a bit different, challenge the norm, and give your taste buds a tingle they won’t forget in a hurry.
We’re talking about some of the best tasting lamb in the world. Lobsters fresh from the sea. Vegetables from farm to plate in under a day. Local jams and pickles so tasty, you could believe Granny made them in her kitchen a couple of days ago. Welsh Black beef, packed with flavour. Fish landed in the morning and on your plate by teatime. Beautiful local cheeses. Rare breeds of apple, grown on the isle of 20,000 saints. You’d be amazed.
And then there’s the drinks. Did you know Snowdonia has an excellent vineyard? Or that multiple-award-winning beers are brewed in Porthmadog? You’ll find these and many more locally produced wines, beers and spirits in our pubs and our many farm shops, delicatessens and local produce markets. And if you should happen to fancy a spot of laverbread – well, you can buy that here, too!