Ogwen Valley. Llamateurs’ second home. Or the tenth. As we begin to have a lot of homes lately, and we should visit them from time to time (someone needs to talk to the sheep, check if the grass is still green, pat peaks on their backs and ask them how is it going), last weekend we finally arrived to our beloved valley situated in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park (north-west Wales). Why is it our favourite place to visit and what pulls us (and soon will you) to go there – here is the explanation.
This is the first of firsts reasons why you should visit Ogwen Valley. Let’s face it – we all love mountains. They can look at us from an image, cry out passionately from the computer’s desktop, wait until we take the first or hundredth step on them. They have cool life, because they only need to be and everybody loves and desires them anyway. Only because they stand. Stand and look at us – people, and what do we do especially while trying to get to their tops.
Ogwen Valley, as the name suggests, is a valley, so you can’t avoid mountains here. They are everywhere. If you hit the weather (and you can get good weather quite often!) then you can do nothing but sit and admire. The views are breathtaking for the hikers and for those who don’t hike, as well as for ‘passsers’ (seriously! Fabulous climate!). Ogwen Valley offers a wide spectrum of paths (there is no marked tracks in UK mountains) of varying difficulty, from the leisure walk around the lakes, by a little more demanding uphill paths (eg. Y Garn walk – we did it with dogs), until the so-called scrambling (eg. Tryfan, Bristly Ridge). The advantage of the area is that the mountains are not high (some over 1000m) and almost without trees – in good weather from the top of the King of Kings – Tryfan, you can see your car parked on the main road – none thief would dare to approach it (only two hours run down to chase them depending on your endurance! )
Peace and quiet.
If you go to the mountains to catch the breath from day-by-day running and to enjoy the beauty of nature without any distractions, you couldn’t choose better. Ogwen Valley is a region, in which even on a beautiful sunny day, in the middle of season, you will find a quiet place only for you and mountains. You don’t even need to look for it, to be honest. Sure, you’ll meet some people wandering around the lake or exploring famous peaks (another salute to Tryfan), but you can’t say it is a crowd.
Actually visiting here is for free. The cost to go to Ogwen Valley reduces to zero, excluding fuel if you’ll travel by car (or flight and bus ticket if you’re outside UK). Regarding car parks – there is one with a charge (next to the Ogwen Cottage) but there are many unpaid ones (bays on the main road), and if you can’t find a space there… some people park on pavements – but you need to keep in mind you might get a police ticket. You don’t pay any entrance fee to the national park as well (you can of course donate it if you want to). We haven’t checked any other transport than car yet.
No, we didn’t encounter any signs stating that, but we had a chance to check it by ourselves. As recently we had to redefine walking in the mountains from more demanding scrambling to a recreational one because of dogs (including a puppy), we can confirm that you have plenty of paths in here to walk with whole family. In addition, Ogwen Valley offers a walk around the lake, and even a beach at one of them (we not necessarily encourage you to swim in the lake, but you can always have a nice rest watching it). After a walk it is worth stopping at Ogwen Cottage for drink or snack and get some knowledge about the area / maps (maybe it is better to do this even before walk!)
It is not hard in mountains to be close to the Mother Nature. Apart from feeding aesthetic sense it is worth to come here to confirm by yourself that sheep is an integral part of the welsh landscape. In addition to sheep, you can easily come across some cows which poses cause a danger of ending up with tones of photos even if you’ve done this already lots of times. It is worth to mention that on the paths there are gateways or fences with ladders for tourists to carry on the path (important note when planning trips with dogs) only to prevent sheep and other farm animals to escape their designated area. Beyond animals you can also see a lot of flora characteristic for this specific region. We are not botanists, but we believe there is a multitude of species (it is not only faith – we had a chance to walk with a botanist in another area in Snowdonia and she told us so).
We should also add that in the summer season on Ogwen Valley’s paths you may meet friendly advisors who can always help you with ‘realizing’ where you are and where to go if you got lost. We are not all born with a gift of navigation sense, so it is a very useful thing and if you know where you are, you can always have a nice chat. (at one day we’ve met 3 people with badges on the paths). However, have a map always with you!
So, what can I say… if you haven’t decided where to go on holiday yet…
You know the answer now!