The crown jewel of this region, which is better known simply as Snowdonia , is the majestic Mount Snowdon, the highest peak south of the Scottish Highlands at 3, feet. The village of Betws Y Coed, which is about 12 miles to the east of Mount Snowdon, is a popular jumping-off point for hikers at the convergence of two rocky river ways, with several scenic trails to choose from. Llanberis: Nestled in the surreal heights of Llanberis, between Caernarfon Pass and Snowdonia, is Dolbadarn Castle, a 13th century circular fortification overlooking the valley, and Lyn Peris lake. History records the acts of a regional prince who locked his older brother in this tower for over thirty years in order to keep him from inheriting his rightful title and power over the region.
The preserved woods to the immediate west of the Doldabarn have fantastic trails running into some absolutely beautiful glades. In glens like these it is clear the that trees are not at odds with each other in any way. At the edge of these woods are old-growth trees with classically haunting curvatures and limbs.
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It was impossible for me not to stand and look back at Dolbadarn Castle from the edge of this small forest, imagining knights and archers coming and going, guarding the imprisoned prince at the orders of his diabolical brother so long ago. I would like to make a personal note at this point. At times, when I find myself in a place like this, with several eras converging in one surreal landscape, a real feeling of wonder can take over.
At the highest point in these woods is a standing stone, and several free sitting boulders that are reminiscent of several megaliths in Lynn Woods Reserve in Massachusetts. What could be a better starting point for the approach to the peak of Snowdon? From llanberis you can take a main trail that follows the route of a small passenger train that carries people who do not wish to walk the four miles to the peak. Along this simple trail are waterfalls and grand views of westerly peaks of the Llanberis mountainsides.
Alternate trails emerge into forests glades to the east, with the direct southerly route to the peak inclining continually before you. Around the 2 mile mark up this trail the views become epic. After 3 miles, the rocky element of the higher elevation trail emerges, and the wind becomes a constant. Be prepared on this hike with under-armor to keep you warm, boots with a steel tip if possible, and a windbreaker, the weather in Wales can change quickly. There are several vistas and places to rest along the way. The wide-open feel of the valley below is inspiring.
Celtic landscapes often have less trees than other parts of the world, and the effect is breathtaking. You simply feel that you can see everything. On the particular day of my excursion I was not fortunate enough to get a clear view from the peak. Just like Mount Sinai was said to be enveloped with a smoky firmament, Mount Snowdon at its peak was no less dramatic, being covered completely in a massive halo of cloud and mist. The trail heights are filled with striking cambrian rock ledges of black and green, against a grey universe of cloud cover.
The actual peak of Snowdon feels like the crosswind-capitol of the entire Celtic world, knocking you off balance and pushing you down if you;re not careful. I highly recommend a strategic crawl on the top ledge if you wish to finally touch the emblem reading feet at the peak. Make your way down the uppermost ledge in the same way, or a strong gust could easily send you off the mountain, entirely.
These are the types of moments that hikers live for, getting to places where the elements make you realize just how precious your life really is. The trails at Mount Snowdon evoke our dreamiest visions of knights on quests, giants strolling the landscape, and King Arthur climbing climbing to the peak, perhaps to see the entirety of the Kingdom he so endeared.
At the peak there is a small historic center with records of the myths about the mountain and various events that took place here. This is very much like David and Goliath in the Bible, and most likely during the same era. Of course, for this moment, Mount Snowdon itself is the event here.
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