Camping around the Ogwyn Valley
At the summit you can watch the RAF below you !
I think that one of the most appealing thing about mountain areas in National Parks is that they haven't changed atall. Seaside towns, with their 'improvements', new buildings and general expansion change a lot over the years. Take a photograph of Blackpool seafront now and compare it to the same shot taken say 60 years ago and there's a big difference. But as the third photo down on the right shows, these places don't change, only the people, their cars and belongings have changed.
The other big appeal of these sort of holidays is that you are away from the main hustle bustle of everyday life and more at one with the nature surrounding you.
The Snowdonia National Park in North Wales is a fine example of this. It also has the advantage that you're never too far away from a shop, big town or tourist attraction to break up the holiday a bit should you feel the necessity or the weather turns nasty.
For this page, I'll take two parts of the region; the Llamberis Pass and the Ogwen Valley, two of the popular places for walking and climbing. Although running parallel with each other and a stones throw away from each other, they are different in quite a few ways, yet have the same appeal in so far as scenery and the occasional challenge - if you want it !The Ogwen Valley
This is basically the length of the A5 between Capel Curig and Bethseda (about 6 miles south east of Bangor). Once past Capel Curig, the scenery changes dramatically from Pine Trees to bare land, few trees but Big peaks and is soon dominated by the majestic 'proper mountain shape' of Tryfan on the south bank of the lake, Llynn Ogwen.
Hilary 1952 - Leo 2004
There are two campsites more or less at the foot of Tryfan; Gwern Gof Uchaf and Gwern Gof Isaf. These are very basic Farm campsites offering the 'essentials' but no cotton wool! But the absence of some home comforts of bigger campsites, is fully compensated by the majestic scenery and the fact they attract more the seasoned types and usually not too packed. You also get the occasional lamb and chicken paying you a visit. If you want more amenities etc, you need to go to the surrounding towns, but have to drive to the start of your walks.
What these campsites offer is easy access to numerous walks and scrambles. You can go up Tryfan, then continue to the Glyders. Once up there, the walk between them is pretty easy. The views are astounding and the quietness is only interrupted by the occasional RAF jet who zooms past and below you doing their exercises through the Valley. To the north side of the Valley, there are easy or stretching walks up to Carnned Daffyd and Carnedd Lllewelyn.
There are two shops at Capel Curig which have most essentials and a small Supermarket in Bethseda. For the larger shops, you need to journey on to Bangor or Caernarfon.The Llamberis Pass
If you enjoy climbing or want the long walk up to Snowdons summit, this is the place to go. The stretch along the narrow windy and steep A4086 between the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel and Nant Peris, just east of Llamberis town, is enveloped by almost sheer rock faces.
Again, the campsites along this bit are pretty basic and occupied mainly by short stay visitors there for the adventure stuff. If you don't want to be based where there are only harder walks and scrambles, you are better off going to Lllamberis where you have the town shops, the beautiful Lake and a few lower easier walks to chose from.
Llamberis itself is the starting point of 'Snowden, the easy route' - that's to say, The Train!! Some people catch the train up and walk back down. The walking route is very well marked, but on a nice day, it can be as busy as Regent Street. For the quieter walks up Snowdon, go from the westward side on the A4085. The quietness of North Wales should be enjoyed!
On the general tourist side, Lllamberis has the Slate Museum where you can watch some demonstations of slate cutting and walk around the once busy (and dangerous) factory. Of special interest are the row of Terraced Houses. Each is decorated and furnished in the styles of certain ages - if you're about the same age as me, walking into the 1960's one is quite a time dis-orientation !
You can hire a boat on the Lake and the town has many Cafes to chose from.
The nearest larger towns to both the above are Caernarfon with the infamous Castle, old town and weekly Markets. Bangor is a University town nowadays and has most amenities and Supermarkets etc. From there you can travel over the Menai Bridge to Anglesey, even taking a Ferry to Ireland for a short break. Inland you have Betwsy-y-Coed, which is quite similar in some ways to an Alpine Village. This is a fine centre for beautiful nature walks through the surrounding Pine Forests. I found the air around there particularly nice