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Snowdonia is the jewel in the crown of North Wales; magnificent, majestic and massive and the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. The region is one of the most stunning and dramatic areas in the whole of Wales and includes dense deep forests, still blue glacial lakes, exquisitely pretty mountain villages, cascading waterfalls, castles, legends and ghost stories and the ubiquitous Snowdon, the biggest mountain in Britain outside Scotland.

This wild and spectacular terrain is one of the greatest attractions in the British Isles and is a paradise for walkers and hikers as well as nature lovers, artists and photographers and those looking for peace and relaxation. Betws y Coed, a gorgeous little town of old houses and buildings set amongst forest and river in the Snowdonia National Park has been a tourist resort since Victorian times and is still attracting huge numbers of visitors today. Betws y Coed (“the chapel in the wood”) has hotels, guest houses, inns, shops and tea houses galore and its attractions include the famous waterfalls, The Conway Falls and Swallow Falls and even a fairy glen!

Swallow Falls is a beautiful waterfall cascading down rocks through stunning woodland while Fairy Glen, named after the Welsh Fairies who are reputed to be seen there, is a clearing in a small wood where rapids plunge into a ravine surrounded by rocky and green banks all cast in a fairytale hue.

Beddgelert is another very popular and picturesque little village near the foot of Snowdon in the Snowdonia National Park. According to legend it is named after Gelert, the faithful dog of Welsh Prince Llewelyn, who was left to guard the Prince’s baby son one day while the Prince went out hunting. But when he returned Llewelyn found the cradle overturned and seeing blood round the dog’s mouth thought Gelert must have killed his son so slew the dog. Seconds later he found his child safe behind the cradle and a dead wolf beside him and realised Gelert had saved, not harmed, his son. Filled with remorse Llewelyn turned back to Gelert who licked his hand before he died. Llewelyn built a tomb for Gelert and Beddgelert translates as “Grave of Gelert”. You can visit Gelert’s grave today – a stone slab lying on its side flanked by two upright stones below Cerrig Llan.

Beddgelert is surrounded by high mountains and woods and its houses and buildings are made of delightful old stone giving it a picture postcard look. It lies at the junction of two valleys and the River Glaslyn and River Colwyn meet at the charming bridge in the centre of the village. It’s an idyllic and peaceful place with the sound of water running along its streams and rivers and local ice cream, afternoon cream teas and flowers seemingly round every corner.

In Betws y Coed and Beddgelert you can try Bara Brith, the famous Welsh tea time fruit cake served sliced like a loaf of bread and buttered with your tea and scones. You might also be served with Welsh cakes; little flat cakes with raisins sprinkled with sugar and served warm and buttered.

Beddgelert is also famous for being the place where the Rupert Bear stories were set! West of Betws y Coed is Capel Curig, a popular location for walkers and sports enthusiasts and it includes The National Mountaineering Centre where there are courses in canoeing, abseiling and dry slope skiing. Just from Capel Curig is the Ogwen Valley where there is some of most superb and impressive scenery in the region with mountain streams, waterfalls and placid blue lakes set amid the slopes.

From the town of Llanberis at the foot of Snowdon the Llanberis Path will eventually lead you to the main summit Y Wydda, the highest point 3,560 feet above sea level. This popular approach is also the route of the Snowdon Mountain Railway and from the summit on a clear day the panoramic views are breathtakingly spectacular.

There are many approaches to the Snowdonian range, all of them incorporating rugged and wild scenery and Snowdon has four other distinct peaks, with Y Wydda being the highest. Llanberis itself used to be a slate quarrying town but is now a magnet for walkers and climbers all lured to the magic of Snowdon.

Blaenau Festiniog may be a grim reminder of Snowdon’s not so happy past; a dark looking town where slate miners suffered and worked in terrible conditions but the Ffestiniog Railway of today is an absolute delight and huge tourist attraction.

The railway of the 1830’s originally transported slate from Blaenau Ffestiniog through the mountains to Porthmadog where it was shipped out from the port all over the world. By the mid 20th century the slate market had collapsed and the line was abandoned until years later railway enthusiasts restored the entire route. Now tourists can travel on magnificent steam locomotive trains through some of the most stunning tracts of mountain scenery in Snowdonia.

From Rhyd –Ddu south of Snowdon you can take The Welsh Highland Railway, another gorgeous narrow gauge railway, to Caernarfon, a designated World Heritage Site. Caernarfon Castle, with its mighty walls and towers decorated with bands of coloured stone is claimed to be more imposing and splendid than all the other castles in the area and sits on a wonderful location at the water’s edge. It was begun in 1283 by Edward 1 and it is here that the Sovereign presents the heir-apparent to the people of Wales as The Prince of Wales.

Snowdonia is one of the most magnificent and stunning regions in Britain and has a haunting grandeur that has attracted tourists and sightseers for centuries. Many of the Welsh people in this area speak Welsh as their first language; the Celtic language of Britain’s original people and the oldest living language in Europe.

Snowdonia and North Wales is quite unlike any other part of Wales and its most famous natives have included David Lloyd George, the legendary British Prime Minister and more recently world famous singing star Bryn Terfyl. It’s a wildly beautiful area and whether you’re a walker, climber, canoeist, mountain biker or romantic looking for utter peace and tranquillity Snowdonia has it all and is well worth visiting.

Ricki Crookes has worked as an actress in the film and television business throughout most of her life. She has appeared in numerous commercials which have been shown on television and cinemas world-wide. She has also worked as a model and been in many prestigious photo- shoots which have featured in magazines and bill-boards. In addition she has written articles for both newspapers and magazines and is an award winning poet.