HomeLifestyleTravelMy Britain

My Britain: Snowdonia

BY Alice Gawthrop

11th Apr 2023 My Britain

My Britain: Snowdonia

We delve into North Wales' famously mythic landscape and mining history, with insider insights from some of Snowdonia's local residents

Snowdonia, or Eryri in Welsh, became Wales’ first national park in 1951. It’s not hard to see why—with rugged mountains, crashing waterfalls and waterlogged peatlands, it has it all.

Time in Snowdonia is easily whiled away exploring its peaks and valleys. Its crown jewel is Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and the highest point in the UK outside of the Scottish Highlands.

"Snowdon's Welsh name, Yr Wyddfa, is rooted in the legend of the giant Rhita"

The mountain has a sense of myth and magic to it: its Welsh name, Yr Wyddfa, is rooted in the legend of the giant Rhita, defeated and buried on the mountain by Arthur himself.

Equally as unforgettable as the scenery are Snowdonia’s friendly and welcoming residents. We spoke to some locals about life in this beautiful area, where breathtaking nature abounds and the Welsh language lives vividly on.

Mike Morris

Go Below exploring an underground mine in SnowdoniaGo Below takes visitors on subterranean adventures through Snowdonia's iconic mines

Mike Morris, 32, is the operations manager at Go Below, a company which offers underground adventures in abandoned mines (go-below.co.uk)

I’ve lived in Snowdonia all my life! I’ve never wanted to leave because I have everything I need right on my doorstep. I love the cycling mainly, mountain and road.

Snowdonia has a very chilled out way of life. We all love living here and feel really lucky to inhabit such an incredibly beautiful part of the world.

Go Below offers a truly unique authentic underground adventure, exploring abandoned slate mines in an exciting way and reaching places previously unseen for decades.

Trips are led by super-experienced, highly qualified (not to mention charismatic) guides. We give customers the trip of a lifetime—a one-off experience that they’ll never forget for the rest of their lives.

It’s hard to pick just one favourite spot in Snowdonia, there are so many! I’d have to go with Conwy Mountain though, I love it up there.

Tilly Reynolds

Bodnant Welsh Food Farmshop in SnowdoniaBodnant Welsh Food Shop highlights local suppliers and farmers in the surrounding area

Tilly Reynolds, 22, is the director of operations for the Love to Eat Group. She tells us about Bodnant Welsh Food, a farm shop and restaurant in Tal-y-Cafn (bodnant-welshfood.co.uk)

I have lived in Snowdonia all my life. I think growing up you really take for granted living in this area. It’s only when you get old enough to leave that, one day, you go for a walk on the beach after work and kind of say to yourself, "Why would I ever leave this place?".

I think it’s a given that the landscape makes this place special but the people really make it memorable. I love the sheer willingness of everyone to work together—Snowdonia means being geographically miles apart but everyone’s spirits being close.

It’s a place that truly does take everyone’s breath away, and to be a part of that is really special.

"Snowdonia means being geographically miles apart but everyone’s spirits being close"

I think as a young person in Snowdonia you have this tremendous sense of pressure that you owe it to your surroundings to make sure the world sees Snowdonia for what it is.

I am immensely proud to be contributing to this with my work, and being able to show off the best of Wales is something I don’t take for granted.

Bodnant is like no other place; the very best of the region is literally all under one roof. Being able to support local suppliers and farmers as well as educating customers on the importance of shopping local—the farm-to-fork way—is something that you wouldn’t get in another job.

My favourite spot is the beach at Conwy Morfa. Being here and watching the sunrise while walking my dogs is a feeling that can’t be put into words! Highly recommended.

Andrew Jones

National Slate Museum with Andrew James demonstrating slate splittingThe National Slate Museum helps to keep Snowdonia's slate splitting heritage alive

Andrew (JohnJo) Jones is a demonstrating quarryman at the National Slate Museum Llanberis, a museum dedicated to preserving Snowdonia’s rich slating legacy (museum.wales/slate)

I’ve lived in Snowdonia all my life, as have all my family before me. My father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were all quarrymen from this area.

There’s nowhere like home. Snowdonia is such a unique area with so many different people and places. It’s always surprising!

I love the mountains mostly. I’m a big walker—I’ll easily walk about ten miles on a weekend walk. I love taking photos of the mountains too, as they look so different at various times of day.

We’re very fortunate here in Snowdonia to live in such a beautiful place, and there’s a lot of culture here too. The Welsh language is very strong here, and it’s great to be able to live and work using the language.

We’re quite a resilient bunch—especially the quarrymen who have worked these mountains over the years.

I really enjoy working at the museum as I meet so many different people every day. I give daily demonstrations of the slate splitting craft and I enjoy passing my knowledge on to visitors and telling them all about the history of the area, the industry in general and of my own family.

People like to hear about family connections and learn that we’ve been doing this for many generations.

The museum is at the heart of the community and you can feel the presence of old industry, but also we’re excited about the future and all that it brings.

Becoming a World Heritage Site in 2021 was very exciting as it showed how important the slate industry has been historically but that the story is relevant to the future.

My favourite spot in Snowdonia is Dinorwig Slate Quarry. When I walk around the quarry I get the feeling of my ancestors walking around with me.

Quite by chance I found my grandfather’s signature in a stone lintel the other day. I’ve walked up there numerous times and came across it by chance. It’s so beautiful and atmospheric!

Gary Stevenson and Adrian Stevenson

Llanddwyn Island Lighthouse near SnowdoniaSnowdonia may be best known for its mountainous landscape, but its surrounding coastline is just as striking

Gary Stevenson, 52, and Adrian Stevenson, 56, are the owners of Y Groser Harlech, an independent grocery store in the historic town of Harlech (ygroserharlech.cymru)

We have lived in the Snowdonia National Park on a permanent basis for just over five years now. We feel alive here. The air is so clear, crisp and pure—we’ve learned to breathe all over again while taking in the landscapes, which are spectacular.

Exploring is a passion of ours, and there are so many walks and climbs that you’ll never become bored.

We feel privileged to be a part of the Snowdonia community. We’re part of a patchwork of people who have either long-standing Welsh heritage or who have settled here from other countries.

There is a unique mix of past and present, and we are all here for the same reason—love of Snowdonia and all that this beautiful region has to offer to everyone living here.

Y Groser Harlech is a food, wine and spirits emporium situated on Harlech’s high street, and based in Cambrian House.

"The air is so clear, crisp and pure—we’ve learned to breathe all over again while taking in the landscapes"

We promote local; offering the community a distinctive destination grocery store that sells exceptional food coupled with good old-fashioned service.

We’re also really proud to be creating jobs for local people. Harlech is a prime location for tourism and a great place to showcase the fantastic Welsh food and drink products on offer.

Our shop is a central hub to the town, and is well supported by the local community. We deliver a traditional service, built from trust, conventional values and fairness. It’s a culture which has been embraced by our staff and our customers.

Our favourite area of Snowdonia is the coastline. It is skirted by the most amazing sandy beaches, with sand dunes as high and rugged as the mountains that can be seen beyond. The sunrises and sunsets from the western coastline are spectacular.

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...