Traveling whilst holding down a full-time job is all about mastering the three-day weekend trip. It is about making the most of every weekend, whether you stay in your local area or hop on a plane. Below I will outline an itinerary for a three-day weekend in Snowdonia.
Gary and I are big fans of short weekend breaks, and our recent adventure in Wales only helped remind us how relaxing it is to get out of London for a few days. Our trip only lasted three days, but we returned to the city feeling fully recharged and relaxed. This mini-break in the countryside gave us a much-needed respite from our busy city life and we enjoyed spending some quality time in each others’ company. We even managed to cram quite an astonishing amount of activities into this short space of time. Three days was the perfect duration for this trip, although this brief snapshot did leave us hungry for more adventures in the Welsh countryside.
Wales is one of my favourite places for a short break or a weekend away. I’m always surprised by how beautiful this little country is. Its small size makes it easy to discover a lot in a short space of time. This wasn’t our first holiday in Wales, but previous trips have centred around Cardiff – an altogether different part of the country. This trip was organised by Visit Wales and Virgin Experience Days , who are jointly running the #FindYourEpic campaign.
Visit Wales and Virgin Experience Days are inviting you to step outside your normal lives and do something amazing. Adventures come in all guises and sizes. Where will you find yours? We found ours in Snowdonia, where we explored Caernarfon Castle, risked it all on a rib ride down the Menai Strait and reached new heights at the top of Snowdon.
We certainly enjoyed our adventure in Wales, and are already planning what we’ll do next time we find ourselves in this beautiful part of the country! But you might want to start-off by reading this post on reasons why you should visit Wales in the first-place.
OUR JOURNEY FROM LONDON TO SNOWDONIA
We left London at lunchtime on Friday and drove all the way to Caernarfon, which is located a little North West of Snowdonia National Park. Leaving London on a Friday after work might sound crazy, but the drive is only about five and half hours. Although we got stuck in traffic, we weren’t delayed for too long.
We arrived in Caernarfon at 8 pm and headed straight to the Black Boy Inn, to enjoy a tipple and a warm meal. The reward for our Friday Journey was a full day of exploring on Saturday. We returned to London on Sunday. Leaving Snowdon at quarter to five in the evening, we returned home by 10 pm.
TRAVEL BUDGET FOR AN ADVENTUROUS WEEKEND IN SNOWDONIA
|ACCOMMODATION||Two nights at the Victoria B&B||160£|
|TRANSPORT||Drive by Car, Petrol||50£|
|FOOD||Black Boy Inn: Dinner for two, two glasses of wine, two lemonades||30£|
|Stones: Dinner for two, two cocktails, dessert for one||54£|
|ENTERTAINMENT||Entrance Caernarfon Castle||16£|
|Bridges and Swellies RibRide||48£|
|TOTAL||358£ (179£ per person)|
OUR ACCOMODATION IN SNOWDONIA – VICTORIA B&B
Visit Wales arranged for us to stay at the Victorian B&B in Caernarfon. Victoria House is a Grade II listed building dating back to 1894. It has been tastefully refurbished to provide all modern facilities yet retains much of its original charm and character.
Backing onto the medieval town walls of Caernarfon Castle and the Menai Straits, it is very conveniently situated in close proximity to all local amenities. Caernarfon Castle and the market town are a short stroll away, as is the harbour and Welsh Highland Railway.
We really enjoyed our stay at Victoria Bed and Breakfast. It is all the little touches and details that made our stay so unforgettable. The foam mattress, the bubble bath, the parking permit, the soft bath gowns and towels, the bottle of wine on arrival and the fresh flowers on the breakfast table.
This bed and breakfast is extremely popular and was almost booked out – an incredible feat for this time of year. We were lucky enough to stay in the Superior King Room. It was very spacious! The room is furnished with a very large king-sized bed, two comfy chairs, a coffee table, and a dressing table. The centerpiece of the Superior King room, however, has to be the large decorative fireplace.
The full welsh breakfast is cooked to order and certainly sets you up for the day. There are of course plenty of other alternatives, such as croissants and pancakes – if you don’t feel quite up to the cooked breakfast.
On top of this, you have an excellent host in Jan who is very helpful and has plenty of time to spend with the guest. Victoria Bed and Breakfast is a great place and I would highly recommend it. We certainly hope to return someday soon.
Don’t forget to read my Review of Victoria B&B!
A THREE DAY WEEKEND IN SNOWDONIA – DAY 1: DINNER AT THE BLACK BOY INN
The Black Boy Inn has been welcoming weary travellers and visitors to the Town of Caernarfon since the early 15th century. Some things just don’t change!
The Black Boy Inn is both a B&B and a very popular restaurant, that recently won the Visit Wales Bronze Award. All dishes are prepared with local ingredients from local suppliers and there is something on the menu to please each palette. Whether it’s a light lunch or an evening meal, The Black Boy Inn offers a warm welcome and good food to those in search of a relaxed and traditionally welsh experience and environment.
The Black Boy Inn is only a five-minute walk away from Victoria B&B. The breath of fresh air and crisp winter temperatures were very welcome after our long journey in the car. Because we arrived so late in Caernarfon and we didn’t have time to make any reservations. Caernarfon is a relatively small town and restaurants close early. We were a little worried that we would need to skip dinner. Fortunately, the Balck Boy Inn was still open and packed to the rafters.
The ground floor is divided in two. Head to the left after entering through the main door and you will find yourself in a quaint traditional welsh pub. Head to the right and you will dine in a more refined yet still charming setting. You can have your meal either in the pub or restaurant. We enjoyed a glass of wine in the pub while we waited to be seated.
The meal was excellent, although service was a little slow and Gary found quite a few shards of bone in his dish. I choose the local pheasant with potato gratin and salad while Gary opted for a very large pulled pork with chips. Add to that two lemonades, and the total cost of the meal came down to an affordable 30£.
A THREE DAY WEEKEND IN SNOWDONIA – DAY 2: CAERNARFON CASTLE
A five-minute walk down the road from Victoria B&B is Caernarfon Castle. Caernarfon Castle is a mighty medieval fortress built by King Edward I to tighten his grip on Wales. The Castle’s unique polygonal towers, intimidating battlements, and colour banded masonry were all architectural features chosen specifically to echo the Walls of Constantinople. A brute of a fortress, Caernarfon Castle’s pumped-up appearance is unashamedly muscle-bound and intimidating. It is surely one of the most impressive castles in Wales.
Caernarfon is located at the southern end of the Menai Strait between north Wales and Anglesey, 8 miles south-west of Bangor. The site of this great castle wasn’t chosen by accident. It had previously been the location of a Norman motte and bailey castle and before that, a Roman fort stood nearby. The lure of water and easy access to the sea made the banks of the River Seiont an ideal spot for Edward’s monster in masonry.
The construction of the current castle began in 1283, just in time for the birth of the first English and thus non-native Prince of Wales, King Edward II, in 1284.
Eager to do as much as possible on Saturday we got up early and grabbed breakfast at 8 am. We then dashed to the castle tower give us enough time to see all the sites before our ribride in the afternoon.
Caernarfon Castle is part of historic Scotland / England and if you are a member completely free. Unfortunately. we forgot to bring our cards. The entrance fee is 7£, very readable if you consider the size of the castle.
There is no set route through the castle and almost all corners are accessible. You can climb to the top of almost every tower. Don’t forget to poke your head into the fusilier exhibition. We spent almost all morning in the castle. Exploring every single nook and cranny.
At 12 o’clock we had to say our goodbyes to head to our next destination.
A THREE DAY WEEKEND IN SNOWDONIA – DAY 2: A RIB RIDE DOWN THE MENAI STRAIT
Visit Wales and Virgin Day experiences very kindly organised a Rib Ride for me and Gary.
In North Wales, a visitor can come across any number of watery areas; with more than 200 miles of coastline in Snowdonia alone, there is certainly no shortage of beaches and sea. Add to that the rivers, estuaries, canals and lakes and any lover of water is sure to feel at home here.
One of the most thrilling ways to experience the waters is by going on a rib ride. A RIB, which stands for Rigid Inflatable Boat, is a power boat decked out with inflatable tubes; one that can travel at exceptionally high speeds and take on large amounts of water without losing any buoyancy.
There are a few different points from which you can be picked up, usually Caernarfon, Beaumaris, Holyhead and Menai Bridge. We boarded our Rib at Menai Bridge, a 20 minutes drive away from Caernarfon.
The boats are pretty quiet and quite comfortable, but don’t be fooled into thinking it will be a pleasure cruise – they can reach speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour! The adrenaline rush is the main reason to go on a rib ride; the blast straight down the Strait is something you won’t forget. Certainly and adventure and a half! The sheer speed is just so much fun.
Once you get past the pure fear of potentially getting your head dunked under water, you might just be calm enough to enjoy the sights. The Bridges and Swellies ribride will take you past the Thomas Telford’s Menai Suspension Bridge, Church Island with its fifteenth-century St Tysilio’s church, Britannia Bridge and even Millionaires Row. If you are lucky you might even spot some wildlife, including see-lions, little egrets, oystercatchers, curlews and redshanks.
The rib ride was an unforgettable experience and I highly suggest you book your own next time you find yourself in the area. You can pick and choose between 6 different routes, depending on your interest and fear factor. The Bridges and Swellies route is a good entry level rib ride and costs £24 per person.
A THREE DAY WEEKEND IN SNOWDONIA – DAY 2: DINNER AT STONES IN CAERNARFON
We did not return to the Black Boy Inn for dinner on our second night in Caernarfon. Instead, we choose Stones Bistro, partially because of its late opening times. Having packed the day full of adventurous activities, we didn’t return until very late and most restaurants had stopped serving food.
Stones is tucked away on Hole-in-the-Wall Street in. Aptly named after an old pub – located right opposite to Stones Bistro -the street has become extremely popular in recent years and is the headquarter of Caernarfon for all things food. In fact, most restaurants seem to be based on Hole-in-the-Wall-Street.
Stones Bistro is an Italian inspired restaurant that serves local food. Our experience with Stone’s Bistro was a bit of a mixed bag. First was a tad disappointed by the gaudy outdated decor but pleasantly surprised by the complimentary aperitif. Unfortunately, the waitress took the wrong order and I was served local sea bass with Mediterranean vegetable and chips rather than sea bass on a nest of noodles. I really couldn’t face eating chips and sent the dish back.
Whilst Gary was enjoying his chicken skewers (according to him the best he ever had), I was allowed to eat the sea bass that wasn’t being re-used for my actual dish. It was freshly caught and perfectly cooked. Sadly the sea bass I was served with the noodles was extremely overcooked and dry and the noodles so garlicky that they were barely edible.
Gary still had roomed to spare and ordered a red velvet cake for dessert which was truly delicious. I desperately wanted to enjoy our last meal in Caernarfon but alas it wasn’t to be.
A THREE DAY WEEKEND IN SNOWDONIA – DAY 3: CLIMBING SNOWDON, THE MINER’S TRACK
Climbing Snowdon has always been Gary’s dream and has featured heavily on his bucket list. In fact, he enjoys stating that he will propose to me at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
I, on the other hand, am the first to admit that I’m not the fittest in the world. A keen mountaineer in my youth in recent years a lack of hiking has meant that I have lost almost all of my skills. Add to that my ever-increasing fear of heights and the fact that I had a massive chest infection the week before – and you might understand why I was dreading climbing to the top of Snowdon.
It was a challenge but I am glad that Visit Wales challenged me to #FindmyEpic. There are numerous ways up the mountain. In summer, there is even the option of hopping onto a train. Choosing the right path was difficult and took us a while. There are differing opinions on the web about the difficulty of each path.
In the end, we opted to follow the miner’s track.
Following the opening of the Llanberis pass in 1832, the Miners Path was built to carry copper from the Britannia Copper Works near Llyn Glaslyn to Pen y Pass, where it was then transported to Caernarfon. The mining came to an end in 1916, remains from the work can still be seen on the path to this day.
We choose the miner’s path mainly because we weren’t sure whether we wanted to attempt to reach the summit or not. The first part of the miner’s path is fairly gentle but almost guarantees good views. We weren’t disappointed.
The route starts from Pen y Pass and It’s essentially an unsurfaced road for the first few kilometers with a nice and steady gradient. The miner’s track then winds around three beautiful lakes. From here, the path climbs steeply to Llyn Glaslyn, where it becomes a hard climb over scree towards the intersection of the Miners’ and the Pyg Tracks. The path then zigzags up to Bwlch Glas, and then on to the summit.
We followed the miner’s track all the way to the highest lake before heading back to London.
Snowdon was definitely the best way to end our adventurous weekend in Snowdonia
Where will your next adventure take you?
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