Year of the staycation: Our first trip to North Wales

One positive thing about the coronavirus pandemic is that it’s forced us to look closer to home when it comes to holidays. I know we have the option to travel further afield but the restrictions are so complicated! I’m happy to explore the UK until foreign travel is more accessible.

One place that has been on my radar for a while is North Wales. I’ve never been, despite living in Wales all my life! I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to go. Sam and I visited at the beginning on May with our friends, Amy and Jamie, who were celebrating their second wedding anniversary.

I wasn’t planning on writing about it so I don’t have lots of pictures. But as we’re slowly coming out of the pandemic, I want to make a note of lovely memories post-lockdown. Therefore, this is going to be an overview of our trip rather than a complete breakdown.

Windy roads

We headed up on a Friday afternoon and the journey took around 4 hours from Swansea. It felt long at the time but having travelled to the Lake District since then (which took nearly 8 hours!), it wasn’t that bad. Be prepared for lots of windy, country roads though.

The perfect cottage for a few days away
Admiring the scenery from our garden

Fortunately, Amy booked us all a lovely little cottage in Caernafon so we didn’t have to worry about arranging our own accommodation. It had amazing panoramic views of Snowdonia National Park, private parking and a wood burning stove, which was a bonus on a particularly cold May bank holiday!  

An Italian village…in Wales!

On the Saturday, we visited the beautiful Portmeirion village, built by Welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis from 1925 to 1973. The village is centred around Central Piazza which features a fountain pool, Gothic Pavilion and a giant chessboard.

Fairytale settings in Portmeirion

Complete with brightly-coloured, Italian-esque buildings, cobbled paths, quirky touches, cool artwork and stunning gardens, there was lots to see and take in. Personally, I think it was well worth the £13 entry!

All smiles visiting this gorgeous attraction
Picture perfect

There are plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants too. Sadly, we could only eat outside due to Covid restrictions at the time and of course, the heavens opened but I would happily go again. In fact, I would love to stay on-site!

Climb time

The next day, we all climbed Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, at an elevation of 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) above sea level. We opted for the Llanberis path, which is the longest route but provides a gradual climb up to the summit.

Views from the summit

The hike is classed as hard/strenuous but as with most climbs, I think it all depends on your fitness levels and your determination. It took us 2 hours to reach the top and around the same time to get down. It even snowed, which felt bizarre given the time of year.

SNOWdonia living up to its name
We made it!
My “hurry up, it’s freezing!” pose

And if we hadn’t already done enough, we drove to Zip World Slate Caverns (after a quick rest at the cottage), which was great fun! Again, the weather was a shame but thankfully, the rain held off enough for us to have our adrenaline rush.

Would I visit Snowdonia again? Absolutely! There is so much to do, I think you could stay for a couple of weeks and not get bored. It’s ideal for thrill seekers, active couples and groups of friends looking for adventures and an action-packed break.

A huge thank you to Amy and Jamie for inviting us along!

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