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When describing Wales, Shan Kareen Eastwood gushes with admiration, calling it Great Britain’s best-kept secret.And if anybody knows how to properly define Wales, it would be Eastwood.
The Welsh owner of Shan’s Wales Tours — a driver and guide service that offers tailored tours — has hit the road with travelers for six years and counting. Yet she still manages to find new adventures even today (and has never offered the same itinerary
According to Eastwood, from the idyllic capital city of Cardiff all the way to the busy sea port of Holyhead, the destination attracts every type of traveler, including those interested in Welsh antiquity, gastronomy and much more.
“Wales is steeped in history and legend — there’s so much to do and see,” she said. “You can get off the beaten track, escape the crowds and find solitude and beauty. It’s also an ancient land; around every corner, there are stunning views that tell the
stories of King Arthur and other kings, as well as the struggle of an industrial past. You can let your imagination run wild as you walk ancient trails. It’s an addictive, hypnotic destination.”
And for those tempted by adventure, Snowdonia National Park may be just the ticket, she says. The national park is Wales’ largest and home to 18 of the highest peaks in the principality, along with untamed woodlands, azure-blue lakes, impressive waterfalls
and tucked-away caverns.
“It’s a magical destination and an area of outstanding natural beauty,” Eastwood said.
Below, she shares insight into her top four ways and places for discovering Snowdonia National Park.
Llanberis PassBetween the Glyderau mountain range and the Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa in Welsh) massif — which is the highest summit in England and Wales — lies the famous Llanberis Pass. Decked with craggy slate mines, the area is popular for rock
climbing, bouldering and abseiling (rappelling).
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Visit Wales (@visitwales) on Nov 7, 2018 at 12:48pm PST
A post shared by Visit Wales (@visitwales) on Nov 7, 2018 at 12:48pm PST
Hikers also flock to the area, where a range of trails varying in difficulty crisscross the terrain. Most visitors choose to take the Llanberis Path up to Snowdon; this is the longest route to its summit albeit the easiest, as it’s the most gradual and
straightforward (about 9 miles roundtrip, a climb of 3,200 feet and a six-hour duration).
Another option for taking it all in is a scenic drive on A4086 road, which traverses Llanberis Pass. Throughout 6 miles of undulating roads, travelers will be treated to spectacular changing vistas of tranquil, rugged beauty. The road climbs up to Pen-y-Pass,
a mountain pass that also serves as a starting point for trekking up Snowdon.
Insider’s Tip: Eastwood advises travelers to always check if the pass is open, especially during winter months; weather warnings should be taken seriously. Those visiting by car should arrive early to score a parking spot, and wearing the right
gear is essential.
Talyllyn RailwayFor an experience that still provides all the drama without any next-day achy joints, book clients on a historic steam-engine ride onboard Talyllyn Railway, which leaves from the charming town of Tywyn that sits on the edge
of Snowdonia National Park and ends at Nant Gwernol station above Abergynolwyn village.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Snowdon Mountain Railway (@snowdonmountainrailway) on Jun 2, 2017 at 6:20am PDT
A post shared by Snowdon Mountain Railway (@snowdonmountainrailway) on Jun 2, 2017 at 6:20am PDT
Nicknamed “The Railway With a Heart of Gold,” the service has been in operation since 1865 and takes passengers on a journey of more than 7 miles through the national park, providing awe-inspiring outlooks of the Merioneth mountains (including the famed
Cadair Idris peak) and Fathew valley’s woodlands and meadows.
Insider’s Tip: Pack your binoculars and keep your camera ready, says Easton. She also recommends stopping at The Quarrymans Caban in Abergynolwyn for a cup of tea and Welsh cakes before embarking on the return trip (which will need to be booked
Harlech CastleImpressively perched on a steep bluff overlooking Snowdonia National Park’s mountain ranges is the formidable Harlech Castle. Constructed in the late 13th century by English monarch Edward I, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is
a distinguished example of medieval architecture that was built to be impregnable against potential adversaries.
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A post shared by Castle Guide (@castleguide) on Mar 20, 2018 at 9:38am PDT
Climb the castle’s ancient turrets to the top for panoramic views, all while unearthing its many fascinating stories — some true, and some legendary.
Insider’s Tip: Besides checking out Harlech Castle, make time to wander the town of Harlech, too. Eastwood is a big fan of antique shopping, of which Harlech has plenty. The town also allegedly boasts the steepest street in the world (called Ffordd
Pen Llech), and a walk down the street — and back up — warrants a tasty scoop or two of award-winning ice cream from Hufenfar Castell, a handcrafted ice cream shop.
Ty Mawr Wybrnant and Cwm Wybrant WalkThis 3-mile walk takes travelers through Snowdonia’s picturesque upland valley, combining trails and forest roads with a visit to a historic house. The 16th-century Ty Mawr Wybrnant farmhouse was the birthplace
of Bishop William Morgan, who was the first translator of the entire Bible into Welsh.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Andy Corrigan (@corriganandy) on May 21, 2018 at 4:46pm PDT
A post shared by Andy Corrigan (@corriganandy) on May 21, 2018 at 4:46pm PDT
Insider’s Tip: According to Eastwood, a stop at Ty Mawr Wybrnant’s Tudor herb garden (with more than 140 different plants) is a must. In addition, she urges travel advisors to book in advance visits to any venues along the walk and to check opening
The DetailsShan’s Wales Tourswww.shanswalestours.com