Tan Aeldroch Farm (Camp Snowdonia)
Say what you like about sheep – that they’re not very bright and are too into their looks – but they do a great job keeping the grass tidy. The campsite at Tan Aeldroch, a few miles along the River Lledr from Betws-y-Coed in Snowdonia, doubles as a sheepgrazing field so the grass is always wellkempt and rings to the bleats and baas of woolly grasscutters.
There is, though, as you might guess, a downside. Suffice to say it’s small and brown and dotted around the site. Still, if you want to enjoy Nature you have to take the rough with the smooth. Tan Aeldroch is as close to wild camping as you can get within a stone’s throw of an A road. It’s a large riverside meadow accessed across a bridge, a bit marshy in places and surrounded by hand-built stone walls.
The site is a bit Ray Mears-y. It only has a couple of flush loos and a standpipe for facilities. But the upside is you can build your own fire in one of the fire pits arranged around the site. Anyway, given that you’re in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park there’s no point lounging around with the sheep.
Swing round through Betws-y-Coed and Capel Curig and head up the Pass of Llanberis to Snowdon itself. There’s the famous cog railway that’ll haul you up the mountainside if you can’t face the climb. At a cost of £8.5 million pounds, the Hafod Eryri Visitor Centre is now worth the trip up in itself. Made largely of local slate and paneled in Welsh oak, it has a fantastic panorama window, which means you can enjoy the views without getting a faceful of nasty weather. It’s apt, really, that Hafod Eryri means ‘summer shelter’ in Welsh. Much of the time you need it.
If uphill isn’t your style, there’s the more sedate option of walking a section of the Sarn Helen, believed to be an old Roman road running from Aberconwy down to Carmarthen (Caerfyrddin). It’s now part of a mountain-biking trail that leads all the way to the Gower Peninsula. You probably won’t want to walk all that, so pick it up at Pont-y-Pant and follow it across the hills and into Betws-y-Coed.
If even that seems too much, there’s always a visit to Dolwyddelan Castle, a few miles along the road to the west. This hilltop keep guarded the Conwy valley and the mountain pass in the 13th century, when Edward I was showing an unhealthy interest in Wales. It’s still an imposing site today, but instead of bearded Welsh warriors the site is guarded now by the ubiquitous sheep, tending to the grass and generally lounging around. How much good they’d be at repelling invaders is anyone’s guess, but at least they keep the grass neat.
FacilitiesA new toilet block houses 4 x toilets (2 each for men and 3 for woman), plus assorted washbasins.
There's no shortage of adrenaline-filled fun to keep the outdoorists occupied. Surf Snowdonia (01492 353123) is a revolutionary man-made inland surfing lagoon. All ages and abilities are welcome. SUP safaris, kayaking and a kiddies soft play area are also on offer. Also nearby, Zip World (01248 601 444) boasts the northern hemisphere’s longest zip wire. For something a little more subterranean, sister attraction Bounce Below (01248 601444) in Blaenau Ffestiniog lets you play, slide, roll, jump and bounce from net to net in a cavern the size of a cathedral. The Anpur Stinog (01766 238 007) and Penmachno downhill MTB trails offer some of the best mountain biking in all Snowdonia. There's also plenty of wild swimming opportunities in the vicinity (including several safe pools for kids), not to mention some fantastic walks along the Lledr river to Dolwyddelan and Betws-y-Coed.
Food & DrinkIn Dolwyddelan, a mile or so west of the site, you'll find Y Gwydyr Arms (01690 750303) offering a warm welcome and decent pub grub. Elen's Castle (01690 750207), also in Dolwyddelan, is a charming traditional 18th century coaching inn with an impressive restaurant. There's also a Spar supermarket nearby stocking all the essentials.
Tan Aeldroch Farm (Camp Snowdonia), Pont-y-Pant, Dolwyddelan, Conwy LL25 0LZ
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