Rainy or not activities
There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing…so put on your waterproof and head on out. There are some lovely low level walks in any weather and there are often very local variations. Check out the Met Office who provide forecasts for the local mountains. Anglesey is often drier and sunnier than the mountains with wonderful coastal walks and beaches.
N.B. always phone to check opening times to avoid disappointment.
Here are some of our tips:
Walk from the door
The Slate Trail, Bethesda (and possible swim by Ogwen Bank).
Turn left from the door and go through the gate to the slate quarry. This path has the slate quarry on one side and ancient woodland and streams on the other. There are information plaques about the quarry, which at its height employed 3000 people in Bethesda. You can walk along to the bridge at Ogwen Bank, for a great view up the valley, and then retrace your steps. (30-40 mins each way). You can also swim here from the banks of the Ogwen. Alternatively, keep to the left at Ogwen Bank and walk into Bethesda along the Slate Trail. (Between 45/60 mins each way from Hostel).
A short stroll to the river .
Turn left out of the door and remain on this lane until you reach the bridge over the river (10 minutes), then climb the stile ladder on the left, with a footpath sign, and walk along, bearing to the right to arrive at a lovely area of grass and woodland next to the river. (a further 5/ 10 mins).
You could also walk down to the left after the stile, past the white cottages, then straight down to the right after the cottages, where there is a foot crossing over the stream. Head up to the woodland area and towards the slate quarry path….you might have to climb the wall/fence there to arrive on the slate trail and turn left back to the Hostel.
(about 30 minutes from stile).
A short walk and possible swim in the river.
Turn right out of the door, and go along the lane, past Maes Caradog farmhouse. You should see a large rock in the middle of the field on your left. About a hundred yards past the farmhouse, turn left along a trail past the rock to a green footbridge. A refreshing (!) swim in the river on a warm day.
Walk to Llyn (lake) Idwal. (50/60 mins. 3 miles). (each way).
Turn right out of the door and follow the lane through farmland and farm-houses (Look out for feral goats, Welsh ponies, and of course sheep!). It’s mostly flat, but there is a bit of a steep climb towards the end. You will see Ogwen Waterfall come into view on the left as you near the end of the road. The lane eventually turns into a quite busy area in front of Ogwen Cottage YHA. Here, cross in front of the YHA and the Visitor Centre and take the steps just beyond the centre. There is a clear, stoned stepped path to Llyn Idwal, a further 10/15 minutes to the lake. You can then walk around the lake, and the area called Cwm Idwal, the lower path taking about an hour. It can feel quite wild and mountainous up there even when busy. Brave people swim in the lake. Lots of longer hikes start from this area. If you want to walk to the lake, around it and back again to the hostel, it will take you about 3 hours, depending on your speed.
Drive and walk
Drive to the pretty Beddgelert (40 minutes) for a riverside walk to Aberglaslyn and visit Gelerts Grave. En-route or on the return stop at Cafe Gwynant (01766 890855) in a converted chapel on the A498 near Nantgwynant. Delicious food and very good coffee.
Drive to Cafe Gwynant (30 minutes) and a gentle return walk along Llyn Dinas.
Drive to Llanberis (40 minutes) and walk around Llyn Padarn (large lake), see the ‘lonely tree’ and Vivian Quarry. Check out Caban Cafe, Brynrefail (01286 685500), excellent food and coffee.
Drive to pretty Betws-y-Coed (30 minutes) and a gentle walk along the river with plenty of cafes to satisfy your need for cake and tea. Combine with the Swallow Falls en-route between Capel Curig and Betwys-Y-Coed. En-route there is Moel Siabod cafe with the biggest scones you will ever eat.
Drive to Aber Falls (20 minutes) for spectacular waterfalls, especially after the rains. Approx 30-40 minutes each way from the car park up a gently rising path.
Drive and coastal walks
These can be as short or as long as you like.
Drive to Menai Bridge (20 minutes) and as you pass the Antelope Inn take the first left before the bridge. Park anywhere along that road. Walk into Treborth Gardens and take the track alongside the Menai Straits. You can walk to Port Dinorwic (approx 60-90 minutes each way) and have a break there at The Swellies (01248 670250). Check out the abandoned Chapel on your way.
Drive to Menai Bridge and use the public car park 20m after Waitrose. Walk down to the Straits and across the causeway to explore the 15th century church on the Island, St Tysillio’s, and the gravestones. Follow the Belgium Promenade into Menai Bridge along the straits and admire Telford’s Menai Bridge from below. Plenty of cafes in Menai Bridge.
Drive to Penmon (40 minutes) for spectacular coastal views and views of Puffin Island and the lighthouse. To get there you have to pay £3 to use the private road. The entrance is at St Seiriol’s Priory Church and an extraordinary 15th century Dovecote that is really worth exploring. There is a Well with reputed healing properties and the monastery was established in the 6th century. You pass Beaumaris in both directions so it’s worth stopping at the Red Boat for the best ice cream.
Drive to South Stack Cliffs (50 minutes) on Holy Island in Anglesey, a wonderful reserve made up of heathland and farmland set on a stretch of dramatic sea cliffs which face the islets of South Stack. In spring, guillemots, razorbills and puffins breed on the iconic cliffs. The rare chough can be seen swooping along the cliffs all year round. RSPB cafe and visitor centre (01407 762100). Walks along the clifftops and to the lighthouse.
Drive to Bull Bay (50 minutes) and park by the Bull Bay Hotel (public car park along the lane). Fabulous coastal walk toward Porth Wen. Or start from Eglwys Llanbadrig Church, Caemes. Or use two cars or the bus to do a return. Dolphins and porpoise can sometimes be seen just along the coast from Bull Bay on the second headland.
Have a sword? Then make your way to the splendid castles of North Wales.
Caernarfon Castle (30 minutes) overlooks the Menai Straits. Caernarfon Castle is recognised around the world as one of the greatest buildings of the Middle Ages. This fortress-palace on the banks of the River Seiont is grouped with Edward I’s other castles at Conwy, Beaumaris and Harlech as a World Heritage Site. But for sheer scale and architectural drama Caernarfon stands alone. This gigantic building project eventually took 47 years and cost a staggering £25,000. The castle was born out of bitter war with Welsh princes. The walls echoed imperial Roman architecture, especially the walls of Constantinople.
Conwy Castle (35 minutes) Thanks to restored spiral staircases in its great towers you can walk a complete circuit around the battlements of Conwy Castle. This is one of the most magnificent medieval fortresses in Europe. In the distance rise the craggy mountains of Snowdonia and spread out below you are the harbour and narrow streets of Conwy – still protected by an unbroken 1,400-yard (1.3km) ring of town walls. King Edward I and his architect Master James of St George built both castle and walls in a barely believable four years between 1283 and 1287. It contains the most intact set of medieval royal apartments in Wales. The high curtain wall and eight lofty towers rise almost as impressively as when they were built more than 700 years ago.
Beaumaris Castle is famous as the greatest castle never built. It was the last of the royal strongholds created by Edward I in Wales. Here Edward and his architect James of St George took full advantage of a blank canvas: the ‘beau mareys’ or ‘beautiful marsh’ beside the Menai Strait. By now they’d already constructed the great castles of Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech. This was to be their crowning glory, the castle to end all castles. The result was a fortress of immense size and near-perfect symmetry. No fewer than four concentric rings of formidable defences included a water-filled moat with its very own dock. The outer walls alone bristled with 300 arrow loops. But lack of money and trouble brewing in Scotland meant building work had petered out by the 1320s. The south gatehouse and the six great towers in the inner ward never reached their intended height. The Llanfaes gate was barely started before being abandoned. So the distinctive squat shape of Beaumaris tells of a dream that never quite came true. Still it takes its rightful place on the global stage as part of the Castles and Town Walls of Edward I World Heritage Site.
National Slate Museum, Llanberis. To understand the industrial past and how it has contributed to the culture and landscape a visit here is a must.
Here you can travel into the past of an industry and a way of life that has chiselled itself into the very being of this country. The Workshops and Buildings are designed as though quarrymen and engineers have just put down their tools and left the courtyard for home, while an array of Talks and Demonstrations including slate-splitting give you a real insight into quarry life.
Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay (01492 532938). Lovely, well thought through zoo and perfect for children with 140 species and lots to look at and do.
Anglesey Sea Zoo (01248 430411) is a unique aquarium with over 40 tanks displaying the best of British marine wildlife! Find fascinating creatures from around the coasts of the UK, such as octopus, lobsters, seahorses, conger eels and jellyfish! You’ll also learn about British marine habitats and the research and conservation work which is helping to save them.
Adventure Parc Snowdonia (01492 353 123) inland surf lagoon, children’s play and climbing space, zip lines, soft play, high ropes.
ZipWorld Bounce Below, (01248 601444)Blaenau Ffestinog. Trampolines, zip lines, cavern explorers, deep mine tours.
ZipWorld, Bethesda (01248 601444), longest zip line in Europe and quarry carts.
ZipWorld Fforest (01248 601444) forest toboggan and high ropes. Off the A470 between Llanrwst and Conwy.
Puffin Island cruises all from Beaumaris.
Welsh Highland Railway (01766 516000) is Snowdonia’s newest railway. Trains start a spectacular 25 mile scenic journey from beneath the castle walls at Caernarfon. Join at Porthmadog or Caernarfon.
Portmeirion (01782 743427) is an Italian styled village designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975. It achieved cult status with a 1960s tv show ‘The Prisoner.’ It’s an extraordinary collection of buildings with extensive grounds to explore including a pet cemetery!
Ffin y Parc (01492 642070) has regularly changing exhibitions in a beautiful country house with an excellent cafe. Off the A470 between Llanrwst and Conwy.
Oriel Mon, Llangefin,Anglesey (01248 724444) changing programme of exhibitions with a permanent display of Kyffin Williams paintings. Cafe.
Mostyn, Llandudno (01492 879201) showing modern and contemporary artists. Cafe.
Life Full Colour, Caernarfon (01286 674719) changing exhibitions in the old town.
Bodnant Gardens, near Colwyn Bay LL28 5RE (01492 650460) Cared for by the National Trust since 1949, Bodnant is a garden of firsts – home to the earliest and grandest laburnum arch built in 1880, to Britain’s earliest magnolias introduced from China in the late 1800s and to unique rhododendron hybrids which were born and bred here from the 1920s. Today it is home to exotic plants from the Blue Poppy of the Himalayas to the Fire Bush of the Andes, as well as five National Collections - of Magnolia, Embothrium, Eucryphia, Rhododendron forrestii and Bodnant Rhododendron Hybrids. It is also boasts Wales’ largest collection of UK Champion Trees, which provide a year-round spectacle. In spring, enjoy swathes of daffodils, camellias, magnolias, and rhododendrons; the heady sight and scent of roses, lily ponds, herbaceous beds and buzzing wildflower meadows in summer; a kaleidoscope of rich leaf colour in autumn; and sparkling, frosted landscapes in winter. Cafe
Plas Newydd House and Garden (01248 714795), Llanfairpwill LL61 6DQ. Set on the shores of the Menai Strait amidst breathtakingly beautiful scenery, this elegant house was redesigned by James Wyatt in the 18th century. The 1930s restyled interior is famous for its Rex Whistler association and contains his exquisite romantic mural and the largest exhibition of his works. There’s a fine spring garden and arboretum, and an Italianate-style summer terrace. Cafe.