Road Trip: Northern Wales

Northern Wales is the perfect combination of rugged mountains and pristine coastline. Despite the fact that we ended our trip with sick kids and a dead chicken, Northern Wales was wonderful. Our main reason for visiting this area is because we wanted to summit Mount Snowdon and we did it! North Wales is gorgeous. We continued exploring castles and even found a few more climbing crags!

Day 1

Peter and I both enjoy rock climbing, so if we can incorporate a climbing stop  into our road trips, it’s an extra bonus! We’ve found a few crags in Wales that are great for kids. (See this post for one more we liked!) Sometimes it’s hard to find climbing spots that keep us engaged and are also safe for the children to explore. Luckily, Suspect Wall at Llangollen met both our needs.

My husband found a wonderful campsite for us in Caernarfon called Riverside Camping. The host who checked us in was lovely and the restaurant on site is delicious. There is a creek for swimming and a playground for the kids. I encourage you to remind your children not to swallow the creek water and it’s probably best to shower after your swim. Two of our children ended up sick the day after a swim in this creek. We don’t know for certain it was the creek that made them sick but we are pretty sure they accidentally swallowed the water and no one showered. The campsite is close to Llanberis so it was a convenient location to access all we wanted to do in the area. We were lucky to be at Riverside camping during the week because we had the place to ourselves!

Day 2

We drove to Llanberis to check out the town. It’s a cute outdoorsy town, right on a beautiful lake and we loved browsing the climbing store. The employees answered a lot of questions and we decided to vist the old slate quarry to see what the climbs were like. 

When new roofing materials replaced slate, these mountains were no longer used for mining. The mines were abandoned and the climbers moved in. There are hundreds of climbs and even if you don’t climb, I highly recommend exploring this area for a hike. There are many different tiers, abandoned mining equipment and miners cabins, tunnels and incredible views. For more on this area check out our Instagram Reels here or here or Tick Tok Feed here or here for video clips.  

This area is huge and a bit of a puzzle,  I’ve never seen anything like it before. While we did find some climbs for our family. The base of the climbs at Australia Wall are not safe for kids. Our older children (9 and 4) did ok but our 2 year old needed to be clipped to the rock. There are very steep drop offs so a fall would be fatal. Luckily our 2 year old fell asleep so we got a few good climbs in without needing to worry about his safety. 

Day 3

Our primary reason for a visit to this area was to summit Mount Snowden. We waited for a good weather window and decided today was the day. We chose well! The weather was wonderful which I hear is rarely the case on this mountain so we had an awesome day. I think the weather contributed to how crowded it was but it’s always nice to see so many people getting outside and pushing themselves. This was a challenging hike! There is a hefty amount of elevation climb in just a few miles. Sage (9) hiked the entire thing herself, Cedar (5) hiked 75% of it (he had a few shoulder rides) and Shiloh (2) was in the Deuter backpack. Check out our short video for more details on the hike. I have also included it at the bottom of this post.

We parked at the “Parking for Snowden” car park across the street from the Snowdon Railway ticketing office. We walked to the bus station across the street and took the shuttle to the Pen y Pan Trailhead. We hiked from there to the top and came down the Llwybr I Gopa’r trail and made our way back to Llanberis. The hike was about 2,400 feet of elevation gain (700 ish meters) and 10 miles (16km). There is a train you can take to the summit and I believe there is also the option of walking up and taking the train down. Here is the website for the train. Here is the Visit Snowdonia link for more information about the hike.

Day 4

Our legs needed a break from our big day on Snowdon so we rested and explored Llangollen. We checked out the National Slate Museum which was especially wonderful given the time we had already spent at the quarry. Mining is an important part of this area’s history so I appreciated learning more about life in the mines. There is a giant water wheel and we also caught a slate splitting demonstration.

After the Slate Museum we played at Rope Works Active which was a great time. Check out this video for a clip of the giant swing. There was a ropes course for Peter and Sage and a smaller one which suited Cedar perfectly.  ​​Unfortunately I don’t have any other pictures so click the link to learn more.

The kids were VERY interested in taking a ride on the Llanberis Lake Railway. This is a sweet railway and the views of the lake were pretty. However, our children were a little bored and I think had our legs not been so tired, a walk around the lake would have been just as nice. Shiloh fell asleep though so at least he got a nap out of it!

Day 5

We attempted a visit to Caernarfon Castle and also planned to do a bike ride on the coastal path that heads north from the castle. Unfortunately though, this outing was just not meant to be. The castle was closed, we got a phone call on our bike ride that one of our sweet chickens was half eaten by a fox, and then our littlest, Shiloh, threw up in the bike seat. Sigh. Some days just don’t work out. We made our way back to the car and headed to the campsite. Picture one is of the castle. In picture two, the big kids convinced us that they were healthy and should have ice cream . Picture number three is poor Shiloh feverish and asleep back at camp.

Day 6

Our poor little guy was still pretty sick but we decided to push on and move to our next campsite. On our way to Rowen, we stopped at the  beach in Penmaenmawr. The kids had a great time playing on this big and beautiful beach, Peter surfed for a little while  and Sage even caught wave! Check out Instagram Reels here or our TikTok here for more. Peter built a very cozy bed in the back of our van so after sick Shiloh explored the beach, he took a sweet nap while everyone else surfed and played.

From there we decided to try another climbing spot at Castle Inn Quarry and all was going well until our daughter threw up in the car. I was actually in the midst of a super fun climb when it all went down so we had to, once again, pack up and head to camp. We considered driving home but figured a night of rest would be best for her. 

Our Next stop was a campsite in Rowen. We only ended up staying one of our two nights but I wish we could have stayed longer. There is a sweet pub in the village and it’s a nice spot!

Day 7 

Sage was still feeling lousy but she was a good sport and we decided to see Conwy Castle. We had hoped to do a long bike ride with the kids from Conwy on the coastal path. While we knew the bike ride wasn’t going to happen we wanted to check out the area anyway. The castle was awesome. The town was adorable and I really wished we could have spent more time here. A popular site here, that we didn’t get to visit, is the smallest house in Great Britain! Unfortunately the kids were miserable so we went back to the campground and drove home.  To see more video clips from this castle, check out our Video of Castles in Wales.

Leave a Reply