Snowdonia may be a small area, but walkers are spoiled for choice with mountain paths, woodland walking routes and walks through charming stone-built villages steeped in history...
Snowdonia National Park is criss-crossed with paths that lead through wild mountains, across ancient woodlands and along rivers, estuaries and lakes, passing through stone-built villages and handsome market towns.
This area of Wales may be small, but it's landscape is surprisingly varied, and steeped in legend and history. There's so much to explore, so many walking routes to take. It's a blessing and a curse: you're simply spoiled for choice. Here, we try to narrow things down.
At Bontnewydd, the kissing gates into Coedydd Aber Nature Reserve herald a four mile ramble along enchanting woodland and water.
It’s best to come in winter, when rapids cascade over the boulders of Afon Rhaeadr Fawr and the waterfalls are at their fullest.
Cross the footbridge, pass the remains of an Iron Age roundhouse and kiln, then continue on to Aber Falls, where the water spills a magnificent 120 feet. A footbridge leads to a higher viewpoint.
Climb over a stile, cross a footbridge at a smaller waterfall, and continue over open land. The path traverses streams to higher land.
Look out for birds of prey and wild ponies as you follow the North Wales Path, then watch for a stony track downhill. Once you've arrived at to the lane to town, turn left for refreshments at Abergwyngregyn or right to return to the car park.
12 miles south of Aber Falls, the ribbon lake of Llyn Ogwen is a place of legend. Here, King Arthur’s knight Bedwyr Bedrydant flung the mythical sword of Excalibur into the lake, where it’s said to remain to this day.
To join this easy three mile walk, cross the road at Ogwen Cottage, turn left and go through the gap in the stone wall. Cross the bridge and follow the boulder-strewn river upstream to the lake.
The path follows the shoreline before veering uphill, views opening out across the lake and the mountains beyond. Carry on over a footbridge at Afon Lloer and again over the Afon Denau at the bottom of a farm track, and walk the A5 pavement back to Ogwen Cottage.
Also starting from Ogwen Visitor Centre near Bethesda, this tough four mile hike climbs to Y Garn.
It’s a walk full of drama and challenge that crosses boulder fields and ill-defined pathways at times. Take a hot flask and pack a picnic: there are no refreshments in this harsh mountain environment.
The route is easy as far as Llyn Idwal, where it follows the eastern shore of the lake. From here, clamber up the rough path to the Devil’s Kitchen, an eerie black crack resembling a chimney that smokes with steam - when the devil is cooking, allegedly.
Cross the stile at the top and follow the clear path from Glyder Fawr to Y Garn. Follow the route down towards Cwm Idwal, with views to Anglesey and the Irish Sea on clear days, then the western shore of Llyn Idwal back to your starting point.
There are several approaches to Wales’ highest mountain, from the relatively easy Llanberis pony track that follows the railway line, to the knife-edged Crib Goch ridge route.
The eight mile Miner’s Trail to the summit and back is still a challenging climb, but avoids heart-pumping scrambles. Park at Pen-y-Pass car park and head up the wide gravel path that slopes gently upwards, the mountains of Snowdonia rippling out to the horizon.
The first part winds through through mountain lakes, until wide smooth track gives way to rough stone and lung-busting gradients. The views from the top of Snowdon on clear days, however, make that final push worthwhile.
The landscapes of Snowdonia are filled with legend and Beddgelert is no different. From the village, follow the west bank of the River Glaslyn and cross the field to the monument of Gelert’s grave.
Story goes: the 13th century Prince Llywelyn, returning from a hunt, found his hound Gelert covered in blood and his baby’s cradle blood-stained and empty.
Assuming the worst, he slew the dog with his sword, only to find his crying child next to a dead and bloodied wolf: Gelert had savaged the wolf and saved his child.
Continue to Beudy Buarth Gwyn and a bronze cast of Gelert, then return to the river, watching out for herons and dippers. Cross the river at the footbridge and retrace your steps along the east bank of the river. After the pleasant one mile walk, relax in one of Beddgelert’s cafes.
This four mile National Trust walk offers both industrial heritage and natural beauty. Follow the lane alongside the River Gamlan from the village hall at Ganllwyd, crossing the bridge and veering right to the Black Falls.
The two waterfalls are particularly spectacular in autumn colour or in the silver frosts of winter after heavy rain. Follow the marked paths through woodland and out onto open hillside.
The signed pathways take you past 19th century gold workings, pounding mills, a barracks and powder hut, before continuing on to an abandoned cottage.
Follow forestry tracks to Meirionnydd National Trust Workbase and Tyn-y-groes Inn Hotel, a good watering hole, before taking the road back to Ganllwyd.
What a superb nine mile hike this is, following the estuary all the way from the seaside town of Barmouth to Dolgellau in the Snowdonia National Park.
From Porkington Terrace on the waterfront, the trail shoots out across the railway causeway that spans the mouth of the estuary.
From Morfa Mawddach railway halt, the dismantled railway track continues through Arthog Bog Nature Reserve and along the waters of Afon Mawddach with stunning views over estuary sands and marshes to the forests and mountains that flank the water on the far side.
Take time to explore the attractive market town of Dolgellau with its numerous pubs and cafes before catching a bus back to Barmouth.
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