As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Snowdonia, Paul Bloomfield picks out a selection of family fun and eco visitor centres in this glorious National Park in northwest Wales.
Whilst it's true that the rich and rugged landscape of Snowdonia is an adventure playground for walkers, climbers, cyclists and bikers, don't be put off if you're planning a trip with little ones. There is endless amounts of fun to be had amongst the thick forests which blanket great swathes of the national park. Children can scramble along rope bridges and climb up treetop towers at adventure parks dotted throughout the region.
And there are opportunities for white-water rafting, coast-steering, caving and gorge-scrambling for older children and adults. If you are after a more educational experience, why not sign up for a course on bee-keeping whilst you're here, or head to the Centre for Alternative Technology for some sustainable inspiration.
Centre for Alternative Technology
CAT is an internationally renowned visitor centre, research and residential centre, entirely powered solely by wind, solar and hydro technology. Covering all aspects of green living - from woodland management to renewal energy and environmental building - the centre runs courses on sustainable living, as well as educational programmes for schools and graduate training programmes. There are seven acres of interactive displays, and a shop and vegetarian restaurant on site. There are also two eco cabins on site – hot water is heated by the woodstove or solar panels, and wind and water turbines provide electricity. cat.org.uk
Ty Hill (the ‘Ugly House’)
Don’t be put off by the name – this has got to be one of the loveliest little places in the whole of Snowdonia! The Ugly House, owned by the Snowdonia Society, is home to the National Beekeeping Centre for Wales which focuses on the protection and promotion of the Welsh honey bee. In June 2012 it opened its doors as a tearoom and visitor centre. Visitors can learn about the history and ecology of the honeybee, wander the wildlife-friendly gardens and acres of woodland, or enjoy delicious local food in the tearoom, Pot Mêl. snowdonia-society.org.uk/about-ty-hyll/
Plas Tan y Bwlch
The Snowdonia National Park Environmental Studies Centre is located in a beautiful 16th-century house in the heart of the National Park - perfectly positioned to get the most out of the surrounding landscape. The centre provides an incredibly diverse range of nature courses, from winter walking courses and Welsh Natural History weekends, to courses on botanical painting and jewellery-making: so whether you're interested in rambling, painting, crafts, wildlife, or photography, the centre will sure to have a course that interests you. eryri-npa.gov.uk
Greenwood Forest Park
Family-packed fun for kids and adults alike in the heart of Snowdonia. From climbing up treetop towers and having a go forest theatre, to den building and scrambling through tunnels in the undergrowth, everyone will love getting back to nature at this activity centre. They are admirably green too: used cooking oil is processed into biodiesel and they have planted over 500 trees every year since opening in 1993. greenwoodfamilypark.co.uk
For information on characterful places to stay, local food and drink, and nearby outdoor activities, see our Green Traveller's Guide to Snowdonia