Discover The Cambrian Way: Snowdon Circular

The Cambrian Way is a complete north-south journey along the mountainous spine of Wales, running for 185 miles (300km) from coast to coast. It winds through two National Parks – Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons – and the big green spaces of the Cambrian Mountains in between. Along the way, the route takes in historic towns and villages, forests, lakes and reservoirs, as well as the old slate and coal industrial heartlands.

This four day tour explores the northern section of The Cambrian Way where you’ll find the Victorian splendour of Llandudno, the high and rugged mountains of Snowdonia National Park, mighty castles, fast and furious zip wires, and an inland surf lagoon.

Prepare for a great time

Take the time to prepare for your camping trip. Have the correct clothing for the season and warm bedding, with plenty of food with a few local delicacies this will be a fabulous experience. Take all that you will need, and plan to spend some time sightseeing and enjoying the nature that you will find to be all around you when you camp in Snowdonia.

DAY 1

  • Distance: 17 miIes (from Snowdonia Classic Campers to Maentwrog)
  • Travel Time: 25 minutes

Collect your camper and head south towards the harbour town of Porthmadog and on towards the pretty village of Maentwrog.

Provisions: If you need to stock up your campervan then stop off en-route to Llechryd Riverside Campsite  in Porthmadog where amongst other shops there is a Tesco.

Things to Do

  • Portmeirion Village

Inspired by the pastel coloured houses in the Italian fishing village Portofino, Portmeirion is the design folly of its founder, the architect Clough Williams-Ellis. He set out to salvage classical buildings from demolition, giving rise to Clough’s description of Portmeirion as “a home for fallen buildings”. Building continued in stages until 1976.

This iconic and unique village has regularly appeared on film and TV and is best known for cult television series, The Prisoner, starring the actor Patrick McGoohan. The programme epitomised the counter-culture vibe of the late 1960s and Portmeirion village provided the perfect canvas for the psychedelic storyline.

The village is open daily from 9.30am to 7.30pm so well worth a visit before heading on to your campsite.

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View of the Italianate village of Portmeirion (credit http://www.freeimages.co.uk)

Where to Stay

Llechrwd riverside campsite, situated within the Snowdonia National Park, is a small family run scenic site on the river Dwyryd in the beautiful Vale of Ffestiniog.

The pretty village of Maentwrog is within walking distance, just a mile away but take care along the busy road, where you will find The Grapes Hotel, an old coaching inn dating from the 17th century is ideal for a spot of good pub food.

Email: llechrwd@hotmail.com
Tel: 01766 590240 
Open: April to September

DAY 2

  • Distance: 17 miIes (from Llechryd Campsite to Capel Garmon)
  • Travel Time: 30 minutes

Follow The Cambrian Way north over the Crimea Pass and enjoy the change in landscape from rugged exposed upland to broad-leaf woodland and lush green meadows. Despite its striking beauty, the Lledr Valley is often overlooked by visitors. It is a place where those who like to escape the crowds can enjoy the solitude of the striking Snowdonia landscape.

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The Crimea Pass, between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Dolwyddelan

Things to Do

  • Plas Brondanw Gardens

“Portmeirion…is perhaps Clough Williams-Ellis’s most famous creation…But it is the garden of Plas Brondanw, his home for more than 70 years, which is undoubtedly his most beautiful”

Anna Pavord, Observer Magazine.

Although less well known than his village and gardens at Portmeirion, the gardens of Plas Bronadw are well worth a visit. Inspired by the gardens of renaissance Italy, stone walls, topiary and avenues of trees lead the eye to the dramatic back drop of the mountains beyond. Open daily throughout the year between 10am and 5pm.

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Gardens of Plas Brondanw
  • Cynfal Falls Walk

If you’re looking to get back to nature then there is a lovely 3 mile walk, south of Llan Ffestiniog that takes in the some of the most dramatic landscapes in the area. If you want extra drama come in the wet weather when the waterfall of Rhaeadr Cynfal is in full swing. You will need some waterproofs and be careful it can get slippy.

Check out our Camper Trails webpage for more details on the walk which can be easily reached on foot from Llechryd Riverside Campsite or you can park in the village of Llan Ffestiniog.

  • Ffestiniog Railway

Indulge your train geek side with a trip on an original steam train on a journey from Snowdonia’s mountains to the sea. The Ffestiniog Railway,  the oldest railway company in the world was set up in 1832, built to carry Welsh slate from the hillside mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog down to the coastal port of Porthmadog where it was loaded into ships.

The route was cleverly designed so it was all on a gradient and the trains could just run downhill using gravity. The downside was the 6 hours it took for a team of horses to pull  each one backup. In the 1860s special narrow-gauge steam engines were commissioned which could also carry passengers too. The original steam engines are still running for you to enjoy the magnificent scenery in comfort whilst savouring the romance of gleaming steam engines and carriages.

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The Ffestioniog Railway station, Porthmadog
  • Zip World Slate Caverns

Challenge yourself at Zip World Slate Caverns, home to an exhilarating Indiana Jones-esque adventure environment that includes an experience for almost everyone, from Titan, the first 4 person zip line in Europe to the unique, all weather underground adventures that are Bounce Below and Zip World Caverns. If that’s a bit too much adventure then learn about Llechwedd mine and slate mining through the Deep Mine guided tour.

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Zip World, Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Antur Stiniog – Mountain Biking

If you’re into your mountain biking then why not try the amazing Antur Stiniog downhill trails in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Antur Stiniog has a fantastic uplift service to access the MTB trails. Include a bike rack for your own bike when you hire your camper or take advantage of downhill bike hire from the centre.

Dolwyddelan Castle

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Bessie enjoying a brew at the foot of Castell Dolwyddelan

Where to Stay

Rynys Farm is a hidden gem, set in the peace and tranquility of Snowdonia National Park with stunning views from your campervan of the Machno Valley or Moel Siabod.

The proprietors are Gareth and Carol, enquiries:
Email:
Tel: 01690 710 218
Open: April to October

DAY 3

  • Distance: 25 miIes (from Capel Garmon to Penmaenmawr)
  • Travel Time: 35 minutes

From Capel Garmon follow the The Cambrian Way north along the beautiful Conwy Valley following the river Conwy and over the Schynant Pass. Sandwiched between rocky Snowdonia and the open moors of Mynydd Hiraethog the Vale of Conwy is lush, and green with rich farmlands, riverbanks, and forested hillsides dotted with quaint hamlets and villages.

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Our campervan Bessie with the River Conwy in the background

Things to Do

  • Zip Fforest

Zip World Fforest offers an idyllic woodland setting for an exhilarating adventure high in the trees! The heart of the site is the Fforest Coaster – based on the traditional toboggan but running on rails, it offers a year round, all-weather experience for all ages There are giant Tree Top Nets and high rope courses to bounce and explore or experience the thrill of Skyride, Europe’s highest five-seater swing.

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Experience a woodland toboggan ride or bouncing fun in TreeTop nets at Zip Fforest
  • Gwydir Castle

Gwydir Castle has a place in my heart as it is where my husband and I were married 20 years ago this year! Regarded as one of the finest Tudor houses in Wales, this Grade I listed castle was formerly the ancestral home of the powerful Wynn family. Bought 25 years ago by its current owners Judith Corbett and Peter Welford they have worked tirelessly to bring it back to its former glory. Well worth a visit.

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Gwydir Castle, near Llanrwst in the Conwy Valley
  • Surf Snowdonia

Set among glorious scenery, Surf Snowdonia is a world’s first inland surfing pool, with guaranteed, consistent waves. With waves for all abilities from absolute beginner to a surf pro, the waves can be ridden with or without instruction and don’t worry if you don’t have a board, surfboard hire is included and wetsuits can be hired.

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Surf Snowdonia                                                                                © Crown copyright (2015) Visit Wales
  • Conwy and its Castle

The theme is medieval at nearby Conwy. Its narrow streets, enclosed within original town walls, are full of historic houses. But nothing can rival brooding, dark-stoned Conwy Castle, a World Heritage Site, for presence.

The castle is a gritty, dark stoned fortress which has the rare ability to evoke an authentic medieval atmosphere. Constructed by the English monarch Edward I between 1283 and 1289 as one of the key fortresses in his ‘iron ring’ of castles to contain the Welsh.

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Conwy Castle                                                                                     © Crown copyright (2009) Visit Wales

From the battlements of the castle you can best appreciate Conwy’s ring of 13th century walls. Over three quarters of a mile long the town is guarded by no less than 22 towers; within are medieval narrow streets and at its heart stands Plas Mawr, the ‘Great Hall’. Built between 1576 and 1585 for the the Welsh merchant Robert Wynn, Plas Mawr is an architectural gem, the finest surviving town house of the Elizabethan era to be found anywhere in Britain

Plas Mawr, Conwy
Plas Mawr, Conwy
  • Llandudno

To do justice to Llandudno and its surroundings you need a whole day. The ‘Queen’ of Welsh resorts really does have regal qualities. Perhaps it’s the perfectly preserved Victorian and Edwardian seafront lined with candy-coloured hotels. Or those wide, well-planned shopping streets with their ornate canopies. Or possibly the pier, the longest in Wales.

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Llandudno Pier

The Great Orme headland, a nature reserve with rare flora and wild Kashmir goats, rises dramatically above the promenade. Go to the top San Franciscan-style on the historic tramway, or alpine-style by cablecar. Alternatively have an electric adventure and try a power assisted bike ride around the stunning great Orme. If you prefer to cycle under your own steam then The Bike Bar in the centre of town also offer road bikes or easy to ride town bikes perfect for cruising the promenade and lightweight, comfortable hybrid bikes with plenty of gears for more adventurous rides.

Back in town, MOSTYN is making waves internationally as a cutting-edge contemporary art gallery. And Venue Cymru, North Wales’ leading theatre and entertainments complex, stages performances by big-name players, including Welsh National Opera.

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Nell, on an adventure on the Great Orme

Where to Stay

Trwyn yr Wylfa Camping site, meaning ‘watching point’ in Welsh is exactly what the name suggests! With mountains to one side and a seascape to the other, it takes some beating in the location leagues. To the west – Anglesey, Puffin Island and the Menai Straits; to the east – Llandudno and The Great Orme limestone headland; to the south – the pony-pocked slopes of the Carneddau mountains; and on the very clearest of days, you might just spy the Isle of Man across the Irish Sea to the north.

Top tip: when booking request a level pitch as the site is on a slope!

Enquiries:
Email: tywcampingsite@gmail.com
Tel: 01492 650672
Open: March to October

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Trywn yr Wylfa Campsite, enjoy the view

DAY 4

  • Distance: 29 miIes (from Penmaenmawr to Llyn Gwynant, Nant Gwynant)
  • Travel Time: 1 hour

You can not visit this part of the World without summiting Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales. Snowdon is probably the friendliest mountain in Wales if not Britain, if walking isn’t your thing then there is a little Victorian train all the way to the summit where you can enjoy the views with a cup of tea and cake from the cafe, Hafod Eryri at the top.

From Penmaenmawr head west along the A55 along the North Wales coast towards Bangor and then meander south through the village of Llanberis to the craggy mountains of Snowdonia.

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Bessie taking a break to admire the view of Snowdon in the background

Things to Do

  • Penrhyn Castle, Bangor

Penrhyn Castle, is an outrageous, over-the-top 19th-century mansion built by an immensely wealthy local slate baron. For pure showmanship, the cavernous Great Hall takes the breath away, though the other side of Penrhyn’s story is revealed in the Victorian kitchen where servants sometimes worked 20 hours a day.

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Penrhyn Castle, Bangor
  • Llanberis

The problem with Llanberis is knowing where to start. There’s Electric Mountain, where you can take an underground tour of the power station. The little steam railway, Llyn Padarn Railway that goes along the around the lake is delightful. The National Slate Museum is fascinating. Exploring Dolbadarn Castle is a must.

If the weather is on your side then the delights of Llyn Padarn are not to be missed, whether relaxing in the sun by the lagoons with the occasional dip in the lake or for the more adventurous you could give paddle boarding or canoeing ago. Snowdonia Water Sports offer taster sessions and kit hire.

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Llyn Padarn, Llanberis
  • Snowdon

Snowdon, the biggest attraction in Wales is a must. Take the train up the mountain from the little station in Llanberis, or walk to the top using one of the many paths – but however you get to the top, do it safely and ensure you’re well-prepared and well-equipped; the conditions on the mountain can change very suddenly.

Where to Stay

  • Stay at: Llyn Gwynant Campsite, Nant Gwynant, LL55 4NW gwynant.com

By the shore of the beautiful lake, Llyn Gwynant, at the foot of Snowdon the campsite is an ideal base for walking, swimming and other adventure activities such as kayaking on the lake. Alternatively, simply park by the lake shore and relax and enjoy the natural beauty and tranquillity.

Email: Enquiry Form
Tel: 01766 890302
Open: All Year

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Bessie, enjoying the tranquility of Llyn Gwynant, Llyn Gwynant Campsite

It’s just a 40 minute drive back to Pantglas to drop your camper off for 11am on your final morning.

Don’t want to go home yet? Visit the historic town of Caernarfon with it’s medieval castle for a mooch around the shops and a cuppa in one of the many cafés.