Adventures in Snowdonia National Park, Wales
I’m writing this from the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales along the coast of the Irish Sea. Today was good times and included a surprise visit to Dolwyddellan Castle, a unique experience at Bounce Below in the Llechwedd Slate Caverns, a train ride on the Welsh Highland Railway and a scenic trip through Snowdonia.
Now I’m at Nant Gwrtheyrn which is the place that I’ll be taking some Welsh lessons tomorrow. Welsh is the official language, one of many facts about Wales. Topic of Snowdonia, Mount Snowdon is the tallest mountain in Wales.
First order of the day was to go to Bounce Below but on the way we passed a really nice looking castle and obviously had to stop… It was called Dolwyddelan Castle which was still in decent shape and built by Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd and North Wales in the ~13th century. We knocked to see if the caretaker was around and we heard nothing so we ventured on our own. When you get there, this one big tower is left and we decided to try the door… In the photo below is an old Roman road passing by the castle.
Sure enough the door opened and for the first time on this trip I was really actually in a castle. The others were shells and very cool no less but not the same. This was a very different experience and it was basically just one big room with a huge fireplace. Supposedly the whole family lived there on the main floor and back then people didn’t sleep laying down as there would be rodents during the night so they’d sleep sitting against a wall or back to back; that’s news to me! I could write a whole post about this castle but I’ll stop now and we spent a good deal of time there before heading to Bounce Below.
Bounce Below is something unique and the first facility of its kind in the world. It’s basically this massive underground jungle gym of sorts inside the Llechwedd Slate Caverns in Bleanau Ffestiniog, North Wales. You take a train ride that lasts ~5 minutes and you’re in this massive hollowed cavern that has been out of use for ~175+ years. There are these three big chambers made of rope that act like trampolines and you can take these slides of sorts from one to another. It was a cool experience and I think it’s perfect for families traveling through with kids that need to burn some energy.
Following that we made our way to the Welsh Highland Railway and I rode the rails in the first class cabin all the way to Beddgelert which is this simply beautiful little town in Snowdonia. My guide said it’s known as one of the most beautiful towns in all of North Wales and I believe him as before he even said that I had my camera out and was thinking “this is what I’m talking about”. If you get a chance, take the train, have a beer and enjoy the scenery as it’s really great.
So originally I was going to take the train ride back to where we started and drive to the Llyn Peninsula but my guide John from Boutique Tours likes to get SHABL with things and he knew I was looking for some landscape photos so we took another route which passed right by Mount Snowdon which is the highest peak in Wales. Naturally it was covered in clouds like most tall mountains are but it was still cool to drive by. I also got some great shots in the Nantlle Valley which is just gorgeous.
I’m curious how my Welsh will improve after tomorrow as currently all I can say is “Good Morning” and don’t even ask me how to spell it! I really enjoyed today and can’t get enough of these castles, seriously. Also glad I had the chance to see some of the epic landscape that makes North Wales so special. The scenery is surreal but that’s not news since everyone I’ve ever spoken to who has been here says the same thing.