Visit Wales in the Mountains
Characterised by their rugged snowy peaks, hazy blankets of mist and expansive views across dramatic sloping valleys and grassy moorlands, Wales boasts some of the most impressive mountain ranges the UK has to offer. Many an intrepid adventurer has taken to the Welsh hills to tackle their tough terrains and to experience the landscape’s natural beauty firsthand.
Carved out in the Ice Age some 10,000 years ago, Wales’ many ancient alpine destinations are considered sites of geological interest given their distinctive formations and rock types. Most notably, Wales is home to the likes of Snowdonia, the Cambrian Mountains and the Brecon Beacons National Park and attracts flocks of mountaineers and hikers year in, year out.
Here is our guide to visiting Wales in the mountains:
Snowdonia National Park, located in the northwest region of Wales, is world-renowned for its glacial landforms, glistening azure lakes and craggy peaks. The national park contains some of the highest peaks in the UK including, of course, Mount Snowdon which dominates the skyline with its astonishing 1,085-metre peak.
Whichever route you choose to take to the summit of Mount Snowdon – and there are many – climbers of the legendary mountain are looking at a 5-6 hour hike, but determination doesn’t go unrewarded! During the ascent, you can expect to journey through fickle climate conditions, remnants of Snowdonia’s industrial heritage at the arrival of the Miner’s Path, and the mesmerising biodiversity in the form of sheep, goats, birds of pretty and colourful alpine flowers!
Don’t worry if the hike to Snowdon’s summit doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, simply book a seat aboard the Snowdon Mountain Railway to experience all the same stunning views, but from the comfort of a carriage.
Ideal for keen mountaineers looking to set out on the Snowdon trail early on in the day, the peaceful lodge of Plasglasgwm in Betws-y-Coed is located on the doorstep of Snowdonia. Poised way atop the Glasgwyn Valley, the Plasglasgwm makes for a truly tranquil rural retreat, often welcoming hill walkers and mountain bikers visiting the region’s many attractions. Comfortable, cosy and characterful, the lodges have been dressed with luxurious leather sofas and Egyptian cotton linen whilst retaining the rustic charm of its past as a working farm.
A popular peak often tackled as a precursor to its big brother, Mount Snowdon, Cader Idris – also spelt ‘Cadair Idris’ – is widely recognised as one of the Welsh Three Peaks. This iconic mountain reserve is located in southern Snowdonia and is steeped in ancient history. Regularly a photographed natural beauty spot, Cader Idris is most often depicted by way of the dramatic glacial lake of Llyn Cau, cradled in the crater of Cader Idris.
Standing with stately elegance in southern Snowdonia, the stone-built house of Llanfendigaid Estate in Tywyn offers a self-catering stay served with a slice of history and grand ancestry. Just a stone’s throw away from Cader Idris, the Grade II star-listed accommodation will receive you back from the mountain summit with a warming log fire to curl up by. Boasting beautiful period features, a one-acre wooded garden and a huge heated indoor pool, Llanfendigaid Estate is a gem amidst the magical mountainous region of Snowdonia.
Brecon Beacons National Park
Spanning a magnificent 520 square miles across the flora and fauna of South and Mid Wales, The Brecon Beacons National Park is not one to be missed by outdoors enthusiasts. Adventurers taking on this trekking challenge will get to experience the breadth of grassy moorlands and the peaceful serenity of flowing waterfalls and tranquil reservoirs. Hikers who dare to ascend to the very top of Pen y Fan can look forward to sipping on a warming cup of coffee whilst gazing at the breathtaking views from the highest mountain peak in South Britain.
Be warned, though, it’s not for the fainthearted! It’s widely circulated that the famous mountain range is often used by the British Army’s SAS unit as a training ground, given its unpredictable climate and remote location.
If the heart-pumping hike doesn’t quite take your fancy, there’s a multitude of attractions and lighter strolls to be explored within the expansive boundaries of The Brecon Beacons. Pile the family into a canal boat, kayak or canoe and drift beneath the botanical canopies of the Brecon Canal or grab a coffee and mooch around the characterful market towns surrounding the national park.
With so much to explore, you won’t want to stray too far away from this magnificent mountain range.
Nestled between Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons National Park, the inland plateau of wide-open moorlands and remote wilderness are better known as the Cambrian Mountains. Whilst the likes of Mount Snowdon, Cadar Idris and the Brecon Beacons are often the first port of calls for tourists visiting Wales’ many magnificent mountains, the Cambrian Mountains have just as much to offer.
Although firmly off the beaten track, the vast unspoilt scenery makes it a remarkable spot for a night’s wild camp or bedding down in the tall grass to watch the stars illuminate the sky. Sitting at the heart of the Cambrian Mountains is the compelling Elan Valley, from which you can embark on a scenic mountain road through to the spectacular waterfall attraction of Devil’s Bridge.
For lovers of lush pasture and the remoteness of this mountainous region, we can’t think of a better getaway in Wales than Ysgobur Cottage. With unobstructed views of the Cambrian Mountains all around this stylish and contemporary stone barn, this is a rural retreat like no other. As daylight turns to twilight, unwind in one of the Ysgubor’s mezzanine recliners and watch the stars go by: you are in the Cambrian Mountains Dark Sky Area, after all.