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Beyond Manchester: Snowdonia, a romantic retreat
Within striking distance of Manchester is the beautiful Welsh wonderland of Snowdonia – perfect for a romantic country escape. At around 100 miles from the city, you could be exploring this outstanding area of natural beauty in under two hours. Read on to help find your perfect spot for a relaxing short break.
Snowdonia National Park is home to some of the UK’s most dramatic geological beauty. Kick things off at Conwy Valley and Hiraethog, where a rocky mountainous trek is flanked by thick forests, wooded gorges, mountain lakes and high moorlands that are out of this world. From here, slowly work your way to the western side of the national park at Ogwen Valley, where you’ll be treated to coastal views and paths around the lakes at Cwm Idwal. Finish off your valleys venture by heading back down to a more moderate level of walking at Tomen y Mur in the centre of the national park. This circular route leads from the shores of the manmade reservoir Llyn Trawsfynydd across farmlands to the historic Tomen y Mur Roman fort.
The natural beauty of Snowdonia National Park doesn’t stop there. See the gushing Swallow Falls, one of the highest continuous waterfalls in Wales. Located on the River Llugwy near Betws-y-Coed, the falls are formed of two main bodies of water connecting together to create a giant water chute, which makes for a perfect photo opportunity. If you’re after more action then a hike to Dolgoch Falls in Gwynedd, Mid Wales is a must. Here the falls are part of a series of three waterfalls including the Nant Dol-gôch stream, which flows into the Afon Fathew. This secluded area is surrounded by the lush Fathew Valley and is shielded by trees, adding to the glorious untouched landscape.
King of my castle
Make your trip historic with a visit to Dolbadarn Castle. Built by the Welsh prince Llywelyn the Great during the 13th century, the castle is dominated by a massive round-towered keep, which offers 360-degree views of the surrounding rugged mountains. Continue your history lesson at the Church of Saint Tanwg at Llandanwg, an ancient medieval church with parts dating from the 5th century, set just back from the shore. From here, enjoy panoramas of white sandy dunes and picture-perfect beaches.
Visit the fantasy village of Portmeirion for whimsical Italianate architecture and views of the Glaslyn Estuary. This dreamy village provides a romantic backdrop for strolls around the Gothic Pavilion, Bristol Colonnade, Hercules Hall and Belvedere buildings. From here, head to the quayside to people-watch and take in the estuary panoramas. Don’t forget to stop by the central Piazza – Portmeirion’s centerpiece – with its Riviera-inspired houses, ornamental garden and campanile. It’s a picturesque paradise like nowhere else.