Gwynedd

Gwynedd is a county of the northwestern area of Wales. Despite being the second largest in the country, it is also one of the most sparsely populated. It is home to Snowdonia National Park, one of the three largest parks in Britain. Located no more than a few hours drive from Birmingham, England, and Wales’ capital city, Cardiff, Gwynedd offers one of the best outdoor holidays in Great Britain.

History

History
History

In the fifth century, the Kingdom of Gwynedd was established after the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons put an end to the Roman reign in Britain. The region flourished, despite many wars, including a Saxon invasion in 1063. However, in 1283, Edward I of England successfully invaded Wales and claimed it for England. Today, Gwynedd is considered a county of the country of Wales, remaining under the rule of the British government. The Local Government Act of 1972 established the county based on the boundaries of the former kingdom. After the Local Government Act of 1994, the county council renamed itself back to the original name of Gwynedd.

Castles & Fortifications

Castles & Fortifications
Castles & Fortifications

Gwynedd is home to four of the best-preserved medieval military fortifications in history: Baumaris, Harlech, Caernarfon, and Conwy. All four of these structures were commissioned by Edward I of England in the 13th and 14th centuries, and built by James of St. George, considered to be one of history’s greatest military architects. Baurmaris and Harlech Castles were large double-walled fortifications, while Caernarfon and Conwy included fortified towns. While Baumaris was never finished, these sites played vital roles in several uprisings and invasions over the centuries. Today, these ruins are considered World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, and visitors are warmly welcomed. Their well-preserved state provides visitors with a glimpse into medieval life and warfare.

Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia is a one of three national parks in Wales. Designated as a national park in 1951, these 823 protected square miles are made up of private and public land, including that belonging to forestry commission, water companies, the National Trust, the National Park Authority, and private landowners. Snowdonia is home to Crib Goch, the wettest spot on the British Isles, receiving an average of 176 inches of rain annually.

There are 1,479 miles of public footpaths throughout the park, encouraging hiking and rock-climbing, Snowdonia’s most popular pastimes. While there is some agricultural land within the boundaries of Snowdonia National Park, the majority of the landscape is characterized by dramatic mountains, including the highest and most popular mountain in Wales, Snowdon, at 3,560 feet high. For those who don’t wish to climb the mountain, the Snowdon Mountain Railway runs to the peak’s summit. In addition to hiking, Snowdonia offers 164 miles of bridleways for horseback riding and 46 miles of other public rights of way. These include activities such as cycling, golfing, and exploring canyons and caves. Snowdonia National Park is also home to 37 miles of coastline. These remarkable cliffs, coves, and sand dunes along the Irish Sea are home to many unique species of wildlife and have been named a Special Area of Conservation. Visitors are welcome to partake in activities such as swimming, cruising, birdwatching, and various other watersports.

Hotels & Lodging in Gwynedd

Hotels & Lodging in Gwynedd
Hotels & Lodging in Gwynedd

Many of the lodging options on Gwynedd are comfortable inns, such as the Black Boy Inn in Caernarfon (pictured). Backpackers can find a selection of hostels, such as Totters Backpackers in Caernarfon. Seithfed Nef in Clynnogfawr offers excellent tent camping. Private cottage rentals and vacation homes abound throughout Gwynedd. It is also possible to sleep in a castle, such as Ty'r Graig Castle in Barmouth.

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