North Wales. I’d never been. That said, I’d never been to any part of Wales, north, south, east or west. I’ve always seen North Wales as a place for the hardiest of hikers, a mountainous region battered by strong winds that’ll do nothing for my hair and a place that wouldn’t be great for my kids – mine are seemingly more interested in climbing on each other’s backs and choking each other into submission rather than climbing the heights of Snowdon.
But how wrong I’ve been.
A couple of weeks ago we stayed in Snowdonia and our levels of fun reached new mountainous heights.
Since posting about our trip on Instagram, I’ve been asked loads of questions about where we stayed, what we did etc, so I thought I’d stick everything in a post that might help you if you’re thinking of heading to our Welsh neighbours any time soon.
As many of you asked, yep, I can confirm it’s pretty long (obviously not if you live on the border of Wales, but most people who asked where based around London and surrounding counties). It took us just over 4 hours to get there leaving at 7am and stopping briefly at Telford Services. Despite the mileage, it’s actually very straightforward and the kids were amazing (long Spotify playlist of Lego Movie songs helped them, not me). Once into Wales the journey becomes a lot slower as you’re off the motorways but infinitely more appealing on the eye – hills, lakes and mountains galore. If you want to get the train, I believe it’s about 3 hours from London into Bangor.
Soooo many questions about Zip World, like sooooo many. In short, it’s great. There are three sites spread around Snowdonia so head to their website and book sessions to the most age appropriate one. We went to the Fforest site as it had the most things that Arlo (3) could do. The rollercoaster is a lot of fun!
I would have loved to have gone to the other sites (especially to the huge quarry zip) but with young kids, I think Fforest is definitely the best option.
We were very kindly gifted two nights in The Rocks Hostel in Plas Curig by owners Christian and Annie. The hostel is the only 5-star hostel in the whole of Wales and it definitely lived up to its top billing. The lobby and sitting room are cosy and decorated in trendy dark blues and greys, with pops of colour around the rooms repeatedly catching the eye. The kitchen area is spacious, filled with large oak tables and benches, far from the school canteen vibe I’d associate with hostels. There’s a handy drying room for walkers to leave their weather beaten garms and showers and loos also fill the ground floor. The bedrooms are what really sets the hostel apart. Each room has custom built beds that suit families of three, four or larger groups up to 8. Each bed has it’s own charging point, small shelf, light and privacy curtain and there’s plenty of storage too. There’s also showers and loos upstairs. In the reception area, there’s a fridge well-stocked with local ales and there’s a pub about a 2 minute walk down the road.
Because we were staying with friend plus the dogs, we stayed in the 3 bedroom cottage which is just behind the hostel. It’s a great option if you’re travelling as a larger group, with kids and dogs.
In terms of location, it’s perfect for plenty of walks around the surrounding mountains and lakes, and is also close to the small town of Betws-y-Coed which has restaurants, a couple of small convenience shops plus around 4282 hiking shops.
THINGS TO DO
Well, obviously Zip World, but the real reason for visiting a place such as North Wales should be to take in the beautiful landscapes. It’s like another world. Hills, mountains (when does a hill become a mountain by the way?), lakes, rivers, waterfalls, it’s just incredible. We walked up to Llyn Idwal (parking at the National Trust Carneddau and Glyderau site) which is a stunning lake that requires enough hiking to be able to tell the kids they’ve climbed a mountain! We were battered by snow as we walked, so we were thankful the ascent took only 45 minutes (would be a lot quicker with nicer weather) and then at the lake we rested our legs before returning down again. The weather meant we cut our walk short (Arlo, despite being wrapped up to head to Antarctica didn’t really enjoy it – nor did my shoulders having to carry him), but on a nicer day it would have been great to walk around the lake (which I’m told would take 45min to an hour).
We also visited Beddgelert which is a lovely little village with a lovely riverside walk and a couple of decent pubs. The village is named after the legendary hound, Gelert (don’t let your kids hear the story or there will be tears!).
WE’LL BE BACK
We were there for a very short time, and the weather was against us, but we’d all love to return to take in some more of the stunning walks very soon (and dump the kids so I can head to the other Zip World sites too!).