It's a hot and humid morning in February 2008 when I…
To mark the arrival of Spring, I spent a couple of weeks exploring the best photography locations Snowdonia has to offer. The whole of North Wales is chock full of gorgeous landscapes, so choosing the top locations is a challenge – but these were my favourite spots.
Location: SH 64997 60380; 53.1234, -4.0188
Towards the north of Snowdonia, the A5 takes you through the Ogwen Valley. Park up opposite the youth hostel (YHA Idwal Cottage) and take some time to explore.
The first photo below shows Llyn Ogwen looking east. I used a 10-stop ND filter for a long exposure to get the motion effect in the clouds and water. The second looks north up the Nant Ffrancion valley. It’s also worth the short (but steepish) walk up to Llyn Idwal, for some of the most dramatic scenery in the area.
Location: SH 67940 46039; 52.9952, -3.9695
For something a little different, this abandoned mining village is well worth a look. Cwmorthin Quarry is the largest and deepest slate mine in the world. It opened just outside Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1810 and was in operation in some form until 1997. Today the buildings are collapsing and nature is taking over again – it makes for great photography territory. It’s an ideal location when the weather’s bad for some misty, atmospheric shots.
You can’t drive all the way to the village as the road has been closed due to erosion, but there’s a parking area ten minutes’ walk down the hill. And if you’re looking for a day hike, a number of trails continue around the lake and beyond.
For more information (and if you’re interested in exploring the hundreds of miles of mines), have a look at the Friends of Cwmorthin website.
Penmon Point, Anglesey
Location: SH 64070 81239; 53.310676, -4.041632
I’m cheating a little here, as Anglesey is not part of Snowdonia. But it’s so close, and such a stunning spot, that it’s well worth a visit.
Cross from the mainland via the Menai Bridge (itself worth a look) and within half an hour you can be at Penmon Point looking out at Puffin Island and Trwyn Du Lighthouse (also known as Penmon Lighthouse). There’s a £3 charge to drive out along the causeway to get there, as it’s a private estate – but it’s well worth it!
The expansive scenery and waves crashing over the rocky shoreline made for more ideal long exposures. Again I used a 10-stop ND filter to allow 30 second daylight exposures. While I was taking this photo, I was lucky enough to be kept entertained by a seal playing right in front of me. It really is one of North Wales’ most idyllic locations!
Precipice Walk, Dolgellau
Location: SH 74563 21153; 52.773518, -3.860716
A short walk in a private estate, the Precipice Walk near Dolgellau is easily reached and a relatively gentle route with free parking nearby.
The walk starts with a view of the picturesque Llyn Cynwch, complete with snow-capped mountainous backdrop. You then follow a relatively level path with great views all the way down to Barmouth Bay. See my post about this walk for route details.
Castle Dolbadarn and Llyn Peris
Location: SH 58603 59790; 53.1166, -4.1140
On the very edge of Snowdonia National Park you can find one of the many surviving Welsh castles. Castle Dolbadarn overlooks the Llyn Peris reservoir. The castle itself is rather photogenic and the backdrop to the lake is just stunning. Unfortunately you can’t get right to the water’s edge, but there’s a road across the lake’s north-western edge that’s an ideal spot to plant your tripod.
Try to visit the castle in the evening to get the best light. I went in the morning – and as you can see had some challenging shadows to deal with! There’s also the National Slate Museum nearby, which is worth a visit.
At this time of year, there’s one thing you cannot miss. So to end this post, here are some newborn lambs.
What are your favourite photography locations in Snowdonia?
I’d love to hear your thoughts below…