As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Snowdonia, Paul Bloomfield picks out a selection of mountain biking, caving and birdwatching in this glorious National Park in northwest Wales.
If you're after a varied landscape, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better national park than Snowdonia. Whether you're visiting in the midst of winter or the peak of summer, whether you're blessed with blue skies or have to endure heavy clouds (Snowdonia is one of the wettest places in the UK!), the forests, peaks, lakes and coast will keep you entertained.
Snowdonia has become something of a biking mecca. The forest at Coed-Y-Brenin is crisscrossed with biking tracks providing a perfect playground for adrenaline junkies on two wheels. If you prefer to head underground for the action, you can explore Snowdonia’s disused slate mines by crossing zip lines, climbing rock faces, boating across water and abseiling off ledges.
This adventure activity company uses Snowdonia’s disused mines as a playground for adrenalin-fuelled underground adventures. There are two adventures to chose from: ‘the underground challenge’ explores an old slate mine by crossing zip lines, climbing rock faces, boating across water and abseiling off ledges. The ‘Challenge Xtreme’ takes you down to 1000m below sea level (the deepest point in Snowdonia) to explore 50 miles of tunnels – definitely not for the faint-hearted! go-below.co.uk
Coed Y Brenin
Coed Y Brenin was the first forest to be developed for mountain biking; the area has now become a biking mecca. The ever-expanding network of routes has varying levels of difficult, from flat, easy tracks for families and novices, to challenging and rocky trails for the more advanced. There’s bike hire on site if you come without your own wheels, and accommodation too if you are planning to stay for more than a day. If you can take your eye off the track to look up, the scenery is simply stunning: deep in the Snowdonia National Park, views looks out across glaciated valleys, untamed rivers and huge expanses of forests. mbwales.com
Plas y Brenin
In the heart of Snowdonia, this activity centre offers all types of training opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Hone your winter skills on the Welsh Winter programme, located deep in the snowy mountains, paddle your way around the Welsh coast on a five-day sea-kayaking adventure, or spend a weekend snapping away on a landscape photography course. There are nature courses, rock climbing, family adventure holidays, and much much more! They also have qualification courses, from orienteering to canoe coaching to first aid. pyb.co.uk
Cors Dyfi is a wonderful nature reserve which is teeming with wildlife year-round and is home to the Dyfi Osprey Project. Most people visit between April and September when the magnificent Ospreys – named Monty, Nora and Scraggly – are around, but there are lots of other plants and animals to spot throughout the rest of the year, including water buffalo. There’s an elevated bird hide, a visitor centre and a small shop onsite. dyfiospreyproject.com
For information on characterful places to stay, local food and drink, and nearby visitor attractions, see our Green Traveller's Guide to Snowdonia