What an adventurous trip! My husband was getting a little over the sight-seeing aspect of cities and wanted to do something active in a new country. So I looked up a few things to do outdoors, and Wales is the place I decided on. There is SO much to do there, from the beaches to the mountains to everything in between. If you are like my husband and want to go somewhere other than a touristy city, Wales is the place to go! We were spontaneous and just went the next weekend. We spent a Saturday in Snowdonia and then drove to Conwy on Sunday before heading home that night. Snowdonia is a region in northwest Wales concentrated around the mountains and glaciers of Snowdonia National Park. The park’s historic Snowdon Mountain Railway climbs to the summit of Wales’s highest mountain, Mount Snowdon, offering views across the sea to Ireland. The park is also home to an extensive network of trails, over 100 lakes, and mountain peaks.
Accommodation: The Dragon B&B and Restaurant
We stayed in Betws-y-Coed, which is a village located in the Conwy valley. I thought it was a terrific location! The room was a good size. However, the room smelled a little bit. The complementary breakfast was a traditional welsh breakfast. If you are like me, and don’t want beans and vegetables for breakfast, they also offered cereal, fruit, yogurt and bread.
On Saturday morning, we headed to Zipworld to do the Bounce Below adventure. This was the coolest thing ever! Bounce Below is the first facility of its kind in the world, located at the Zip World Titan site. Hidden underground in a 176-year old cavern, is this subterranean playground, installed with HUGE bouncy trampoline-like nets. The whole place is lit up with different color lights allowing you to see all around the cave. The activity is one-hour session but make sure you arrive 30 minutes early to check-in and get instructions. Also make sure to wear clothes that cover your entire body from the neck down or you will need to wear a suit. This is because you slide down ropes and they don’t want you to get rope burn. Bounce Below is open year round although they are closed right now for reconstruction. They are putting in new nets and bigger slides made of metal that will allow for more speed. I can’t wait to go back!! Watch the video to get an idea of how much fun you could have! Be prepared to get out of breath in 10 minutes. It is exhausting but you can take a break whenever you’d like. I took several 🙂
Zip World also offers many other adventures including: Velocity Zip Line (the longest zip line in Europe and the fastest in the world), Titan Zip Line (the first 4 person zip line in Europe), adventure course (unique and exciting high ropes course), and caverns (an underground rope course adventure), as well as a couple other activities. This is awesome because it is for all ages! I highly recommend booking in advance, especially during the summer time.
After our excitement in the caverns, we drove to Snowdon Mountain to get started on our hike. We are not hikers! In fact, this was our first time hiking with a purpose. My husband grew up in the N.C. mountains so he loves to be outdoors but the mountains in North Carolina are filled with so many trees, it is hard to get a good view. In Wales, some of the mountains don’t have any trees, they are just marshy and filled with lots of rocks. We found a parking lot and then set out on our hike at noon. We brought two sandwiches each and 3 large water bottles. Our goal was to get to the Cantilever stone at the summit of Glyder Fach. The thing is, we didn’t have much of a plan. We bought a map at one of the hotels and just decided to wing it. Little did we know, there was an actual cut-out path that would have made our journey a LOT easier. Well, we took on a challenge. The first mountain we climbed was extremely steep.
I don’t know how the sheep do it (they were everywhere). Once we got to the top of that mountain we could see the mountain that we actually wanted to climb. We walked down our mountain, around the pond, and started climbing the very marshy mountain full of prickers.
I had on capris which was a bad call. My legs were getting all torn up. Had we gone up the trail from the beginning, it wouldn’t have mattered. I’m sure if we went in the middle of the summer, there would have been more people and it would have been easier to see everyone on the path. However, we were going up the steepest route and we couldn’t really see that others knew something that we didn’t. About two hours into our hike, we started noticing more people, and they were all walking in the same place. We realized that they were walking much faster than we were. Seriously, we were struggling not to step in holes or trip over rocks. We decided to head toward them. Once we got close, we felt really silly once we saw that there was a perfectly cut out trail that went straight up the mountain. No more dealing with bushes or muddy grass! The rocks were a little uneven so we still had too look down but man, oh, man did this hike seem like a piece of cake now. The sad thing is that we just wasted two hours of daylight. We knew that sun would start setting at 4 PM and was supposed to be completely dark by 5 PM.
We still had a long way up. We started to calculate how long it would take us to get up and come back down. At 3 PM, we still felt like there was a lot more mountain to climb until we got to the cantilever. We didn’t want to chance getting stuck in the dark so we sadly decided to turn around once we reached the waterfall. We spoke to a few people who were headed down, and they said that it was about an hour more to the top. If we found the trail at the beginning, we definitely would have made it. So next time we know to start our hike earlier and now we know the quickest way to get there.
On our way back down we saw some hang gliders running off of the mountain. We stopped to watch some of them and then continued down. We got to the bottom in about an hour. We were disappointed we didn’t reach our goal but we are using it as a reason to go back and hike again!
Since we still had a little bit of daylight, we stopped at Swallow Falls on our way back. I was a little annoyed to find out that it cost £1 to view it. I’ve never had to pay to see nature before so thought it was a little weird. It’s also not a waterfall that you can’t get real close to since they have railings and signs that tell you not to swim. If you’ve seen some amazing waterfalls, you won’t be too impressed and it may not be something that you would want to take the time to visit.
Next, we dropped off our backpacks at the hotel and then walked down the road to Pont Y Pair Inn. This is also a B&B and restaurant with a bar. The homemade food was fresh and delicious! My husband ordered tomato soup for a starter and he said it was the best tomato soup he’s ever had. I had the vegetable soup and I also thought it was extremely tasty. Both of our main courses were also good. The bar was crowded since they were playing the Wales vs England soccer (football) game on the TVs. It was a bit noisy but we were seated in another room from the bar so it wasn’t too bad.
On Sunday morning we ate breakfast and checked out of the hotel and then drove to Conwy, which was only 30 minutes north of Snowdonia. We parked in a long-stay parking lot right near Conwy Castle. We were lucky enough to be visiting on a weekend that they were offering free entry. It usually costs £7.95 for an adult ticket. This medieval castle was breath-taking with its high towers and curtain walls. It is situated right on the water with great views of the mountains.
Across from the castle, is a boating dock. Along the water were lots of food vendors, as well as restaurants. We got fish and chips from one of the restaurants and sat on a bench near the water. We were blessed with another beautiful day. In this same area, was the Smallest House in Great Britain. This is something that you must visit if you are in town! To take a look inside, it costs 50p for children and £1 for adults. It is open from 10AM to 4PM in the spring and autumn and open longer in the summer. It is just 72 inches wide and 122 inches high. It was occupied until May 1900. It was extremely hard to imagine a family of four living in it. There was just enough room for a single bed, a fireplace, and a coal bunker. The ladies out front were very kind and were there to answer your questions before entering and give you a little history of the house.
We were sad to leave Wales but the weekend had come to an end. It was a perfect weekend getaway. It only took us 4-5 hours to get there and back home so it was definitely worth it! Check back to see what travel blog I post next!