Posted on 16/02/2017 by David
There is no shortage of green space in North Wales, but if you are travelling with family, perhaps you're looking for places to visit that are accessible and varied, that can be enjoyed by all.
Country parks give visitors a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air, open spaces and beautiful scenery. They fit somewhere between more formal park environments and rural countryside - making them perfect for a family day out.
The first installment of this blog series introduces you to two completely different county park experiences in North Wales. One coastal and one lakeside, both parks are incredibly diverse and perfect for families with young children to visit at any time of the year.
Great Orme Country Park – Llandudno
First on the list is the Great Orme Country Park. The Great Orme is a distinctive 670ft high limestone headland which rises up above Llandudno. 3km long and 2 km wide, the Orme’s expansive rocky grassland and heath is of significant importance for its landscape, wildlife, geology and history; this is why it is now managed as a Country Park and Local Nature Reserve by Conwy Council.
You can reach the summit of the Orme in a variety of ways - go by tram for a traditional Victorian tourist experience, or take a cable car to enjoy incredible views as you ascend above Llandudno. There is a good selection of easy walking routes with fantastic panoramic views across Conwy too. Whatever your interests, this diverse country park has plenty to entertain you.
Try tobogganing and snow tubing at Llandudno Ski & Snowboard Centre if you fancy high adrenalin fun with family and friends. The centre caters for all ages and skill levels, with plenty of equipment and helpful staff on hand. If snow tubing leaves you wanting more thrills, then the longest Cresta toboggan run in Wales might do the trick!
There is a wonderful family golf course on the Orme, with 9 nine holes of pitch and putt and full size greens, it gives a great gameplay experience for those already familiar with the game. Once you’ve finished for the day head back down to town on the tram and stop for some great pub grub at the oldest pub in Llandudno. The King's Head is full of original old-world charm and is the perfect place to enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon with family.
Natural history and wildlife:
Home to rare plants, butterflies and even wild Kashmir goats (who are quite fond of a good picnic!), the Orme is a great place for nature lovers to explore.
Heading underground is a particularly good way to appreciate the underlying geology that has produced such glorious scenery. The Great Orme Copper Mine, is an award-winning attraction which makes an ideal place to visit on a rainy day.
Veins of copper rich rock which formed millions of years ago are found throughout the mountains of North Wales. The mines here at the Great Orme, Sygun in Beddgelert, as well as Parys Mountain near Amlwch were all important sources of copper up until the mid-1800’s, when the global demand for copper increased faster than these smaller mines could cope with. The Great Orme mines are particularly unique in that they are the oldest mines open to visitors in the World!
There really is so much more that could be mentioned – including historic landmarks, hidden caves, the remains of over 50 hut circles and some beautiful formal gardens. Pick up a leaflet at the Summit Complex visitor centre and you’ll see just how much is on offer! If you’ve got any energy left once you’ve returned to sea level, enjoy a stroll along the Pier before heading to the Looking Glass ice cream parlour for a scoop of delicious Welsh ice cream.
Padarn Country Park – Llanberis
Affectionately known as the 'alpine village of Snowdon', Llanberis offers visitors a unique charm, beautiful scenery and a selection of great visitor attractions, celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Snowdonia. Spend a day exploring the spectacular 800-acre Padarn Country Park. The park is designated as an area of Special Scientific Interest due to the wide variety of rare and ancient flora, fauna and wildlife to be found here.
The park is home to Coed Dinorwig, a beautiful and ancient Sessile oak woodland, as well as some wonderful walks around the lake (with two great cafés en-route), there is also a safe path through the slate quarries of Elidir Fawr Mountain.
All in all, there are five themed woodland, lakeside and industrial heritage trails to explore. You can also learn about the Welsh slate mining industry with a visit to The National Slate Museum and the Quarryman's Hospital Museum. These two attractions really bring to life the hardship quarrymen faced.
Llanberis is renowned for its extreme sports offering. Activities including rock climbing, orienteering, scuba diving, rowing, canoeing are all on offer nearby. Why not try paddling Llyn Padarn in a kayak or canoe? For a reasonable price, you can hire all the kit for a couple of hours from Snowdonia Watersports. What better way to take in the glorious views of the valley and Llanberis Pass than to glide across the shimmering waters of the glacial lake?
If you don’t fancy getting wet or have young adventurers to please, opt for a pleasure boat trip or a ride aboard the famous lakeside steam railway.
For the next blog in this series, we’ll head eastwards to explore Greenfield Valley Heritage Park in Holywell and Loggerheads Country Park, near Mold. In the meantime, remember we love to see what you get up to on your travels, so if you visit either of these country parks whilst staying in one of our cottages, do share your photos and experiences with us! Tweet us @NWHC.
Images: Slate Museum trains: Hefin Owen via Wikimedia Commons. Llanberis Lake view: Jaggery licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.