North Wales has no shortage of great hikes for all ages and abilities. Wherever you choose to walk, hike, or scramble, there’s also a wide variety of pit stops and attractions to help round off a perfect weekend away.
Here, our ambassador Emily Jeffers (@emily.goes.to.merseywood) will show you one great hike with several options to make the most of a weekend away in Snowdonia National Park.
Coming from Liverpool, (or the north in general), finding accommodation near Llanrwst allows for the perfect break from driving before setting off on a hike early the next day.
If you’re not the type to wild camp but still want the feel of roughing it, book yourself a spot at Hafod Hall Camping Club near Denbigh. This large area of farmland doesn’t have marked plots; instead you can choose to pitch your tent in the wooded area or in the field on the hill with views of Snowdon. As a Canadian, camping and campfires go hand in hand so I always pick a campground that allows fires. S’mores and hot dogs are a must for getting your energy up before a big hike, but you can always go continental as well – cheese and wine anyone?
If camping isn’t your thing and you’d like to have a plush bed to return to at the end of the day, Crafnant House in Trefriw is an ideal, and stylish alternative. Not only will Stuart and Jasmine make you the best breakfast you’ve ever had, Crafnant is a perfect base for exploring local hidden gems and Instagram hotspots like the Tu Hwnt I’r Bont tea room.
Where to eat
The most important part of any weekend vacation planning is finding a place with good food and good beers on tap. If you’re after a truly authentic Welsh pub experience, then try The Old Ship in Trefriw (a stone’s throw from Crafnant House). With the classic Welsh pub fare, coupled with traditional décor, and abundance of Welsh speakers sat around you, you’ll instantly feel far removed from day to day life.
For a slightly upmarket, yet quaint, dining experience, book yourself in to the Dinorben Arms in Bodfari. Nestled on a hill next to the Church of St Stephen which dates back to the 1600s, this pub has it all: great food, good beer selection, and stunning views of the surrounding valley.
Once you’ve had a proper breakfast and cup of tea, it’s time to set out on the hike. Cnicht, also known as the Welsh Matterhorn, and it’s surrounding area, has a variety of paths that can be catered to varying abilities. The below routes all start and end at the car park next to the café in Croesor.
Starting from the car park, you’ll follow the Snowdonia Slate Trail up through the road past the school until you see a wooden sign with Cnicht on it. Follow the rocky path up the incline to another gate. Once through the gate, you’ll get your first glimpse of Cnicht, and you’ll see why it gets the Matterhorn name. Here is the perfect place to snap a picture, maybe of the hiking beer you’ve brought?
The Cambrian Way path to the first of several false summits is easy to navigate, with the odd peat patch and grassy plain. Once over the first stile, you’ll get an incredible view of the valley below with a peek of the old slate mines.
Continue on the path up to the rocky section where you’ll have to do a tiny bit of scrambling before coming to the finale, actual summit climb. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bouldering situation, the route is easy to follow and the scramble sections are fun. Once at the top, if the weather is clear, you’ll also get a great view of the Snowdon summit.
From here, you can either turn back and follow the original route down or carry on to the Rhosydd slate quarry.
To get to the Rhosydd quarry, you’ll follow the Cambrian Way down the other side of Cnicht until you get to Llyn yr Adar. Follow the curve of the path to the right and you’ll see the old slate buildings from the quarry in the distance. Here, the path can get a bit tricky to find, so follow your OS map if you have one and keep an eye out for trails through the grass, peat bogs and rocks. As you near Llyn Cwm-corsiog, the path can get a bit flooded and hard to see so make sure you’ve got your waterproof boots on too. Following the path, you’ll come across a beautiful waterfall with pools that look very inviting on a hot day. Here, the path is not so clear cut, but the flat rocky plain with clear views of Rhosydd make it easy enough to navigate.
Once at the Rhosydd quarry, there’s no shortage of old buildings and leftover machinery to explore. Mining on the site dates back to the 1830’s and at one point, due to the high altitude, transport was conducted to and from the mine via one of the longest single pitch cable-hauled inclines. The mine was officially closed for the final time in 1948, but much of the building walls are still intact, along with old equipment strewn about. On a hot day, stand at the mouth of the mine and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a freezer.
For those looking to extend their walk even further, the Cambrian Way slate path upwards next to the mine will take you to another area with old buildings and the start of the ascent to Moelwyn Mawr.
After you’ve had a look around, you’ll want to re-join the Snowdonia Slate Trail for the descent back to the car park, and most importantly: the ice cream. Following the arrows for the Slate Trail, you’ll come across a few more impressive slate structures and a beautiful view down the valley back to Croesor. This route consists of easy to follow stone steps and paths which will eventually take you back to a paved service road. From here you’ll pass a few houses onto the main road, with the café eventually appearing on your right. For those looking to maybe skip Cnicht and just have a wander around the quarry, this is the most direct way up and down to Rhosydd.
Total circular distance: 7.5 miles
Elevation: 649 metres
If after a long day of hiking, you’d like to do some sight-seeing to round off you’re weekend, check out this other attractions nearby:
Visit a castle or two - Caernarfon Castle, Denbigh Castle and Conwy Castle are just a few of the nearby castles that make up the ‘Ring of Iron,’ a series of fortresses built by King Edward I in the 13th century as a way of supressing native populations in north Wales.
Mini walk - If the 7.5 mile hike wasn’t enough, take a short walk to see the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall near Trefriw.
Snap the perfect Instagram picture - Easily one of the most photogenetic bridges in all of Wales, Y Bont Fawr and the Tu Hwnt I’r Bont tea room mentioned above are the perfect place to take a few pictures, especially in the autumn when the foliage covering the tea room is a bright red colour.
So there you have, a weekend in north Wales, with any number of things to do, see, and eat. If you do follow the route above, with a can of Raven Hill for the top of course, tag us on Instagram or Facebook @ravenhillbrew.