The Hidden Gem of Snowdonia

Snowdonia National Park is one of the most Beautiful places in the United Kingdom, if not the world, and it attracts a lot of visitors.  It has big rocky mountains in the North and plateaus of high moorland in the middle part.  Most of the honeypot areas are in the Northern part of the park, where the big ranges of the Snowdon Massif, the Glyders and the Carneddau are situated.  The attraction to these high tops is infectious – the vast amphitheatres and sweeping vistas from these high summits are what gets boots on the ground here, however, for those less obsessed with ticking off high mountains, might there be something worth a visit away from these busy places.  The answer is a resounding yes!

South of a watershed between the villages of Beddgelert and Capel Curig, lies a series of mountains knows as the Moelwynion.  This contains some notable mountains, Carnedd Moel Siabod, Cnicht, Moelwyn Bach and Moelwyn Mawr, and a collection of Slate mines that circle the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog.  This tract of land is wild, boggy and complex, and contains many small lakes or ‘Llyns’.  It’s not particularly high, and sees much less visitor traffic, yet it contains a hidden gem.

I have camped out here on numerous occasions, armed with a camera, to photograph the place at dawn and dusk, and there’s a wonderful sense of calm being here for an extended period of time.

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The landscape is generally low, around 300 metres elevation, yet is extremely complex, containing rocky outcrops and clear mountain lakes normally associated with much higher terrain, and this yields almost limitless photographic opportunities, and looks totally different from one day to the next.

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The two photographs above are of two different lakes, yet were taken from almost the same spot.

The jewel in the crown however is reserved for a spot at the top of a small knoll of about 460 metres elevation which provides a breathtaking view of one of these lakes with the mountain Cnicht, rising in the background.

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This view, I think, has to be one of the best views in Snowdonia.  There are many wonderful viewpoints scattered across the park, the high mountains and dramatic glaciated Cwms are all pretty epic, but this is as close to the perfect mountain vista that I have had the pleasure of viewing first hand.  Proportion and scale work so well.  The view is big, of course, but in a photograph, it appears bigger, and the complex terrain enhances this.

Ironic then that surprisingly few people have seen this, which for me, makes this place so much more special.  Most people would happily write off any chance of seeing something like that from a 460 metre spot height, in a location that has no really big mountains.

Just goes to show that there’s more to a view that just absolute height!

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