This summer, we rented a car and road tripped out to Snowdonia National Park in Wales. We ventured out there so that Andrew could participate in the Snowman Triathlon, and, luckily, we also had some time to explore this absolutely beautiful part of the UK.
We rented a car in London and set out for Wales on a Saturday morning. You will be unsurprised to hear that Andrew did the driving. In theory, the drive should take around four and a half hours. Since it was a quick trip for us, we decided to take the scenic route and enter Snowdonia National Park at its southeastern corner and drive up to Betws-y-Coed from there to see more of what the park has to offer.
It is a beautiful, relaxing place and I highly recommend visiting!
Planning sights to see was a little bit challenging – there really wasn’t that much that I could find easily on the Internet! I typically create GoogleMaps to get a sense of where we’ll be going and where the points of interest are, but even the information on GoogleMaps was a bit sparse.
We were able to find Dolgoch Falls, and we were pleasantly surprised to find a public parking lot and loo at their base. To find them, simply put The Dolgoch (B4405, Bryncrug, Tywyn LL36 9UWWe) in your maps. The car park is just in front of this quaint B&B and tea room. We parked the car and set out on foot from there to see the falls.
The initial part of the path is well-kept and quite easy to walk. It is fairly flat, so for anyone who can handle a nice stroll on a gravel path, it is worth it!
It is so green in the forest there. There are green moss and green ferns wherever you turn. I read a path-side sign that told me it is a rainforest. The vibrant green and lush plant life do indeed feel almost tropical.
In addition to the hiking paths, we passed a few caves. They were pretty freaky, but neat to explore.
The climb up to the falls was more challenging than the initial path. We didn’t want to spend too much time here, so once we made it up to a view of the falls we headed back to the rental car to keep on our way to Betws-y-Coed.
Back on the road, we drove through incredible hills and fields. At one point it felt like a moonscape.
The reason behind our trip was Andrew’s triathlon, the Snowman Triathlon. Featuring a swim in the icy looking Llynnau Mymbyr, a 40 mile bike ride on the winding, hilly roads of Snowdonia, then finally a 10k race up a mountain, this was not your average triathlon.
Until we arrived and saw an abundance of IronMan tattoos and gear on the people getting ready to race, I’m not sure Andrew realized just how intense of this particular triathlon would be. Once he was left scaling a mountain during the “run” portion, I think it settled in.
The triathlon started with a swim in the lake, then was followed by the bike. Andrew transitioned from wetsuit to bike way faster than I anticipated so I didn’t capture the best pictures, but I love how happy he looks setting out on his cycle adventure! Snowdonia makes a truly gorgeous backdrop.
The start and finish were at the Plas y Brenin National Mountain Sport Centre, which was quite nice and the staff working in the cafe were great. I was thankful to have a nice, warm spot to stay while Andrew was out in the mountains. It was also amusing to watch the little kids practising their skiing down this strange faux-snow hill just outside. It did feel cold enough for skiing after standing outside for a while!
After climbing Braich Bryn-engan, Andrew crossed the finish line! It was a very exciting day.
When Andrew finished, it was early afternoon, so we took advantage of the time we had to explore more of Snowdonia National Park.
We hopped in the car to take a drive around the sites of Snowdonia when we passed a car park that led to some trails. We decided to venture up the Miner’s Track a ways.
This path leads all the way up Mt. Snowdon, but the park we walked was pretty easy and well-paved.
The views were incredible.
The stone provided a dramatic contrast to the green hills.
Up in the mountains, we came up two lakes nestled among the hills. The first was smaller, but so pretty.
The bigger lake, Llyn Llydaw, was breathtakingly beautiful.
The trail started to become steeper and it was getting late, so we turned back after reaching the lake. There were castles to see!
It’s not a trip without a castle sighting! We drove over to Castell Dolbadarn to check out the ruins.
Off a short path up a small hill, there sits the mostly preserved tower.
There are beautiful mountains all around, and you can even climb to the top of the tower, which I was brave and actually did do.
Just driving by, you may not even realize there is a beautiful castle here because the trees obscure it from the road. Don’t miss it!
There was something so peaceful about being out in the mountains, I wish we had had more time to explore more of Snowdonia National Park. We did make a stop on the drive home to Conwy Castle, just outside Snowdonia. Check out the post about this beautiful Welsch castle here.
Andrew’s triathlon was in Capel Curig, so we booked an Airbnb just down the road in the little village of Betws-y-Coed.
It was adorable with its stone buildings and walls. It was a great place to stay, thanks to its close location to the triathlon as well as its many restaurants and shops.
Eat & Drink
Our first night, we made a big pasta dinner for the triathlete at our Airbnb. Thankfully, the nearby Spar in Bewts-y-Coed had a whole little gluten-free section.
To celebrate Andrew’s triumphant finish, we went to Y Stablau for a late lunch and a pint. It was awesome!
We had passed by the night before and the huge garden area was full. This seems to be the place to grab a meal or a pint in Betws-y-Coed.
That evening we had dinner at the beautiful and newly reopened Grill Room at the Royal Oak Hotel. We didn’t mean to have a nice dinner, but it was the only restaurant we could get a seat at without a booking. Lucky for us, it was delicious!
They had just remodelled and I was loving the design features! Our waitress was also so nice and helpful. It was a great end to our time in Betws-y-Coed and Snowdonia!