Penmachno Hall owners Lauraine and Simon have lived in the beautiful area of Snowdonia for over 20 years – here are their favourite attractions.
The unique Italianate village, Portmeirion is a must and is suitable for all ages. Situated just beyond Porthmadog the village is beautiful, but the day would not be complete without exploring the woodland and coastal walks through the gardens. If you are feeling adventurous ask us for directions for the route ‘over the top’ through Cwm Penmachno, stunning views but in places sheer drops border the narrow road.
We are lucky to have three fantastic waterfalls within ten minutes’ drive – Conwy Falls (Penmachno), Swallow Falls (Betws-y-Coed) and the Fairy Glen (take the turning to Dolwyddelan on the A5). With a little patience, at the right time of year it is possible to spot salmon leaping up the falls.
Scenic drive to Snowdon
Take the A5 through Betws-y-Coed and carry on until you reach the left turn for Llanberis. Continue down this road and take a right at the Pen-y-Gwyryd Hotel to Llanberis. You will now pass as close as possible to Snowdon by road. Continue following signs to Caernarfon. On reaching Caernarfon (which has a lovely castle, by the way, where Prince Charles was inaugurated as the Prince of Wales) follow signs to Beddgelert. This will then take you back to the Pen-y-Gwyryd Hotel past some of the most spectacular scenery Snowdonia has to offer. Of course, you can actually go to the top of Snowdon and see even better scenery. For the less energetic amongst you the Snowdon Mountain Railway will take you there, and when you get to the top you can enjoy refreshments in the spectacular surroundings of Hafod Eryri.
There are 11 lakes in the vicinity. We would recommend Llyn Geirionydd, Crafnant and Elsi as the most beautiful. The former two can be reached via Trefriw (turn left over the bridge at Llanrwst). Geirionydd is very popular for water sports and therefore can get quite busy. Crafnant is renowned for its fishing; licenses available from the lakeside cafe (wonderful selection of cakes!). Llyn Elsi is accessed from Betws-y-Coed and is best reached on foot via the footpath behind St. Mary’s Church.
Beaches and coast
From experience, by far and away the best beach is Newborough Warren on Angelsey. There many other beaches much closer but this one tops them all. Another good place to go is Shell Island off Barmouth, only accessible when the tide permits. Don’t miss a visit to Llandudno; the epitome of a British seaside town but tasteful on the whole! Rides on the tram and cable car are worthwhile and a drive around the Orme is a must. Eating chips on the prom is a good idea for lunch, but please do not feed the seagulls – they can be a nuisance!
Heritage steam railways
At least eight heritage railways are found in the area. Our favourite is the Welsh Highland Railway that runs from Caernarfon, past the foot of Snowdon to Beddgelert, and through the spectacular Aberglaslyn Pass to Porthmadog.
Blaenau Ffestiniog has two slate mines. Llechwedd offers fantastic Father Christmas tours with subterranean Grotto – warm punch and mince pies for adults and a pressie for the kids. We are reliably informed that it’s just as good the rest of the year as well! Sygun Fawr in Beddgelert is an old copper mine and nice to visit especially combined with spending some time in that area. This is a very personal recommendation since we lived in Beddgelert for some years before moving here. The Great Orme bronze age mines in Llandudno are worth visiting too.
On the A470 towards Llandudno. Wonderful gardens with ponds boasting some enormous fish – great fun for the kids! – house, streams, garden centre and cafe. Bodnant Garden has a famous laburnum arch in June – we will tell you if it is in flower. Don’t forget your National Trust pass if you’re a member for free entry.
The Neolithic burial chamber, Tyân Coed Farm. This has been dated at about 2500BC and is well worth a visit if not only for the views afforded over the Snowdon Mountain Range.