Gwynedd and Snowdonia – North Wales, UK

Another year and another school holidays passes by without the ability of conveniently or smoothly being able to travel abroad. By this point in the pandemic, while potentially possible to go abroad the risk of last minute changes to plans, quarantine, testing and cancellations was not worth the hassle.

Instead we chose to visit North Wales and Gwynedd region. Aiming for countryside, isolation and fresh air we booked a secluded Air BnB near the small village of Dolgellau in Gwynedd near the Snowdonia National Park.

The Air BnB was set within the Coed y Brenin forest and was home to Nicola and Frank who had only recently moved into the hills along with their lovely smooth haired border collie, Lilly. Who, to our delight had recently given birth to 2 puppies (4 weeks). If my situation were different one of these boys would have been coming home with me!

We settled in to the cosy annexe accommodation before exploring the local area which was home to some excellent walking and mountain biking trails. The area was so secluded and quiet and for the most part of our trip we were lucky with being blessed with good weather.

Nearby to Dolgellau is the popular seaside resort of Barmouth. It has a really impressive beach and inlet with clean water and sands and also a typically ‘British Seaside’ town backing the coast.

One of the main draws to the area was to climb Snowdon. I had bold plans of climbing the ‘Crib Goch‘ knife edge ridge. However, on the day a number of things put me off, such as carrying camera equipment, it being dark for part of the journey and having my girlfriend in tow who wouldn’t have joined me making a solo climb even more daunting. We started our climb in the dark at around 4am with a view to reaching the summit before it got too hot. The weather was great with excellent visibility, dry conditions and little wind. We took the ‘Miner’s Track’ route from the Pen y Pass and its newly introduced, timed car park system. We were booked in from 3.30 till 9.45 as thta was one of the last booking sessions available – mildly frustrating but also a necessity for how busy the area was by the time we got down. We arrived an hour late to our parking spot, reducing the time allocated to summit and be back down further. Most online sources had suggested 6hrs round trip on the Miner’s Track. These sources had also suggested this was the easiest climb too but there were some sections that were physically quite strenuous amongst the flat strolls. On the way up I stopped frequently to take photos as the light was really nice. This reduced my round trip time even further!

Adding pace to my walk, I was keen to reach the summit with enough time to get back down and for our hire car not to have been towed. I made it to the top just after 7o’clock and was back down by 8:45 descending Snowdon rapidly as the temperatures began to climb.

Continuing to make the most of the fair weather, we took a road trip down the west coast of Wales to New Quay where we embarked on an evening ‘dolphin spotting’ boat trip around Cardigan Bay. The sightings were tenuous, however it was a lovely evening and the boat’s captain shared a lot of information about dolphins and the local area in his soothing, thick welsh accent.

We had a wet end to the week and walked some of the local trails in light rain before showers became too heavy. We ventured out to the local village for pizza in the brilliantly picturesque restaurant: Mawddach Pizza – This was highly recommended by our hosts and was delicious!

We set off early to head back to Liverpool for a couple of days/ 1 night. We had booked in to do the typically touristic ventures of anyone visiting Liverpool; the docks, the cavern club and The Beatles Story museum. It was still raining heavily in Liverpool which made it a bit more tricky to take full advantage of the lively city. But it has a great vibe and I will probably re-visit again.

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