Days Out - A Photographer's adventure around North Snowdonia

By Dan | Aug 28th, 2022 - 8:03pm

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If you find yourself in the northern reaches of Snowdonia and in search of some beautiful vistas, then you are of course spoiled for choice - perhaps to the point that you don't even know where to begin. It is no surprise, I have spent years exploring Snowdonia and all of its wonderful hidden gems and have yet to feel like I have truly seen all on offer but I can certainly offer you some guidance over where you could travel and what you would likely see. Starting from the lovely town of Llanberis, an iconic holiday hotspot thanks to all of its local attractions and central location, it can be a perfect starting point for any adventure! We will effectively be mapping two days out today - a route north and a route south. Both have their respective charms and are worth exploring, but will both likely require access to a car as public transport can be challenging in these parts (although not impossible - each article will discuss their respective best options for travel).

To begin with, we are starting in Llanberis, but of course, you can adjust your route based on your starting point - check out the map at the end of this article to see where every place is around Snowdonia relative to where you will be. Llanberis sits on the A4086 south of Caernarfon and sits in the foothills of Snowdon itself. You can approach the town either from the north, connecting through Caernarfon along the North Wales Expressway or travel up from the south, passing over the stunning Pen-y-Pass. There are plenty of bus routes in the area, coming from all of the major settlements nearby and offering the best options for those travelling without a car.

Starting at Llanberis, there is already a plethora of attractions nearby worth exploring - from the mountainside quarries and vistas to the lakeside train and the slate museum there is plenty to enjoy and explore here alone and so many places I cannot wait to introduce you to. However, for the photographers touring North Wales, there are probably two stops I would recommend above all else. The first is a bit of an Instagram icon and one that often draws the shutterbugs: the lonely tree. This is a quick stop off a short hop from a car park that can be seen in its entirety within a few minutes, but between the mountains in the distance and the shimmering lake that mirrors the tree, I think most will spend a while here trying to get the perfect framing for this iconic scene.

The second stop I would take in before heading onwards from Llanberis is Dolbadarn Castle - marking the far edge of the town of Llanberis, not only is this a wonderful piece of history but it also has some of the best views up the Pen-y-Pass towards Snowdon and its mountainous neighbours. This too sits on a lake, and while some parts of the outer walls are little more than footings there are plenty of parts worth snapping a photo of - especially that awe-inspiring central tower.

Nearby attractions

So there is of course one other obvious attraction at Llanberis that can result in some spectacular photos - Snowdon. If you opt to walk it from any of the nearby paths, either the one that starts out from Llanberis town or the ones from the Pen-y-Pass, you will likely need the rest of your day to explore the tallest peak around. Even if you take the railway, you should expect it to occupy a couple of hours. Ultimately, if you can catch the mountain on a quiet day then it is absolutely worth it and there is plenty of potential for photographers both while hiking the trails and around the summit.

That being said, a stone's throw from the town of Llanberis is one of my favourite areas to explore and try to snap some photos at - it isn't one attraction but three great places that each in their right could be explored for hours on end, but if you want to have some stunning snaps to take away from your holiday then they can be found here without taking up your entire day. From the glistening waters of both Llyn Idwal and Llyn Ogwen reflecting the surrounding mountains to the gorgeous valley just a short walk away there is so much to see here you are sure to love something...

Continuing on

From here on out you will need to make a choice - either head north or head south. Both are perfectly valid options, full of spectacular scenary just waiting for you to snap it up, but if you were to try to do it all in a single day you would more than likely spread yourself very thin. Of course, there is the potential here for two days out or more, I think if you really wanted to make the most of some of these attractions you could split them into groups of 2 or 3 and really explore them!

Heading North

To the north is the possibility of beautiful coastlines, some of the most spectacular castles and then onto Ynys Môn (Anglesey) to see some of my favourite attractions. Some of these may be a little further than you may want to drive, especially if you opt to head all the way to the furthest reaches of Holy Island but the potential to grab some epic photos may just be enough to keep you motivated as you travel.

Our first stop may seem a little obvious, and anyone who is familiar with the area will have certainly explored these parts before, but there is no mistaking the Caernarfon castle, its walled town and seafront are spectacular and well worth a stop off to grab some photos. It is no secret that I love a good castle, and Caernarfon Castle is featured in our day-out tour of North Wales castles - another great option for the history lovers amongst us Be sure to take the footbridge mentioned in the article to soak in the castle from one of its best vantage points and if you decide to take a walking tour of the interior (highly recommended) then make sure you explore every nook and cranny, ascend every staircase and walk every castle walk to see every amazing photo opportunity around Caernarfon Castle.

Since you are already in a major town, there is no reason not to make the most of it and grab some food here - once you are out in the sticks it may be a little more difficult to find some grub and Caernarfon has a wonderful collection of eateries to suite all tastes.


Heading onto Anglesey

Now you are on the north coast and staring out onto the Menai Strait, it stands to reason that you could quite easily continue across either the Millenium or Menai bridge to check out Ynys Môn. The island is a full day's adventure in its own right and you may need to select between the options laid out here to fit with your travel, but in every direction is something well worth taking a snap of. Down in the southwest corner is a couple of absolutely amazing attractions, the first of which I consider a must-visit for photographers is Eglwys Cwyfan, the Church in the Sea. This charming little stop is a great sight at low or high tide and can make for some breathtaking snaps.

Not too far from the Church in the Sea is Newborough Forest, a natural wonder which offers serene walks in nature and the opportunity to spot Red Squirrel, but for our purposes, we will be trekking down the beach to check out Ynys Llanddwyn - a tidal island with several beauty spots. The iconic one that often finds itself subject to many photos is Tŵr Mawr lighthouse but it is hardly the only thing worth seeing here - not only is there the neighbouring Tŵr Bach another impressive sight with a stunning backdrop of the mainland but the island is littered with additional attractions that can make great subjects for your camera. Cottages, old chapels and crosses can be framed perfectly against the natural landscape for some great opportunities to test your photographic talent.

If you head to the southeast corner of Anglesey you will still have some incredible things to see and do - first and foremost if Beaumaris castle. I know you have already seen the wonderful castle at Caernarfon, but I still think a quick stop off at Beaumaris is worth it. Even if you only do a quick stop to see the beautiful moat reflecting the outer wall and some of the beautiful sightlines within the castle walls - we managed to just about squeeze Beaumaris Castle in as part of a visit to the next stop, Penmon Point.

Penmon Point is another one that offers great potential as either a quick stop or somewhere you spend some time exploring. The lighthouse here looks spectacular at any tide level, and with both Puffin Island and the end of the Menai Strait there are plenty of opportunities to do some wildlife spotting here - our quick visit still allowed us to watch the Porpoise dance in the sunshine!

Further away, perhaps a little far for a single day out, but still an incredible thing to behold, is South Stack Lighthouse. A well-known tourist spot but for good reason, this is such a gem and one that should be seen and visited (if you can make the trip down the stairs). The only drawback is where it is, being all the way up the A55 onto Holy Island and even then to one of its furthest extremities - I recommend a visit, but once again it could absorb a little too much time on your day out, so plan accordingly.

Heading South

With the opportunities heading north from Llanberis already offering more than enough adventure to fill a day, you might start to feel overwhelmed as I offer even more places to go south - but both are perfectly viable options and well worth exploring in their own regards. I have already said this but I will emphasise it once again, there are easily multiple days here and if you prefer to soak in your surroundings then splitting this list up into groups of two or three is a perfectly viable option and something we personally choose to do. Considering if you're here you're likely to be looking for somewhere to take some snaps then you probably want time at these places to really explore, get your framing right, break out some filters and even use a lazy shutter - all things which take time. That being said, if you want to head south then we have some amazing sights to see, starting with some amazing waterfalls...

The waterfalls are each great in their own regards, with completely different styles and ambiences. Fairy Falls is a great quick stop off at a roaring torrent, whereas Fairy Glen is a more peaceful almost magical stop at the bottom of a gorge and Conwy Falls is a great circular walk with a really awesome split waterfall. All three have the potential to make some stunning photos so visit any or all of them to suit your personal preferences.

This portion of your day out will see you circling the town of Betws-y-Coed, a gorgeous little town full of charm and a lot of shops targeted directly at the adventurous type. That being said, if you are looking for a bite to eat then this would be your best choice as you travel south - there is a great range of options here and we often stop by for a bite even if we aren't planning to stop in Betws-y-Coed.


A little further on, but one of our favourite places to visit thanks to being a little unique, is the disused mine at Cwmorthin. Just outside the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, this once roaring industrial area is now silent and, if anything, a little eerie. If you can get to Cwmorthin with the low cloud, a little drizzle and some fog it can be spectacular but even in the sunshine, it is an unquestionably beautiful area. You can do some great walks, and checking out the colossal Stwlan Dam while you are up here is well worth it.

With that, I think I have given you more than enough options for a great photography adventure around Northern Snowdonia. Once again, I have just about scratched the surface of places to see and things to do around here, and each of the articles listed has other places nearby that you can check out too. These are just some of my favourite places to take my camera and just go snapping, and I am sure you will love them too. If you find yourself further south you could check out some of my favourite viewpoints around Barmouth, all of which have great photography potential, or go on a tour of castles around Snowdonia, all of which have many beautiful angles for you to capture.

Places mentioned in this article

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