Note: Betws Y Coed is a gorgeous Celtic hamlet nestled at the convergence of the rivers Conwy and Avon, 7 miles south-east of the great Mount Snowdon. The stone-cut architecture combined with the sounds of vibrant rolling waterways running parallel to the Central Green creates a vibrant energy that is an absolute relief to arrive at, if a hiking getaway is your goal. The entire region is a hiking paradise, where you can choose carefully which direction you would like to go during your stay. Within Betws Y Coed are elevated forest trails, riverside paths, waterfall drops, and countryside hikes, all from the center of town. Caves from the Neolithic period, carved out of the mountainside, appear along the trails, and have an amazing presence as you pass by. Ancient stone linings circa 4000 B.C.E appear by the river Avon, with regal Oak Tree’s spreading roots straight into the stream, and classic Celtic Fairy Foxgloves proudly peering through the ancient stones. The river Avon is lined with amazing free-standing boulders and cut-stones very similar to New England’s forests in Vermont and New Hampshire, across the Atlantic. Climbing along the run of the river is an adventure well worth exploring. When the sun comes out in Wales, it is hard to imagine wanting to be anywhere else in the world. Classic Celtic moss covers so much of the stone work, both on the river, and on land, indicating that it is ancient forestry. This creates a green glowing ‘halo’ over everything, like something out of the movie Excalibur. The forests reflect shafts of light through the trees, with an infinity of watery reflections and small spectrum flashes beaming in any photos you might take. Ten miles to the north is the stunning Conwy Valley, containing the timeless Mean Y Bradd Dolmen. Seven miles to the north-west is the legendary Pen Y Pass, with trails that run all the way up to Mount Snowdon’s peak. The community at Betws Y Coed is bustling with hikers, climbers, Kayak enthusiasts, and campers, all enthusiastic to experience and share adventures. More generally, Wales is the legendary retreat of the band Led Zeppelin, and the inspiration for some of the best acoustic-blend rock-and-roll of all time. Revered author J.R.R Tolkien also stayed in Wales during the writing of The Lord of The Rings in the 1940’s, and was clearly influenced by it’s riveting beauty. The Lord of The Rings, through that beauty, has sold over 100 million copies world wide. If Wales is a place you wish to explore, think about staying in Betws Y Coed; 100 million readers can’t be wrong.:)
Note: About 10 miles south east of Mount Snowdon , tucked behind rocky passes and elevated clear-water lakes, is the wonderfully serene and scenic ‘Pen-Y-Pass’. With wide trails wrapping around massive mossy basins and jagged rocky caverns, this cinematic trail will carry you all the way to the peak of Snowdon if you so choose, following a north westerly course. Along the way waterfalls cut the mountainsides and streams trickle in the distance. This is a classic Celtic scene, with a minimal amount of forestry, but a wonderful collage of every shade of green imaginable. Reeds drift in the wind, blended with moss and grass on huge knolls and hills that roll, and roll again, in every distant direction. In the heights above cut-boulders and grand shafts of granite slice dramatic angles into the peaks. In the valley below, for those who have the eyes to see, are ancient Celtic alters dug into the landscape; Circular stone Cairns with centerpieces that are so old they seem to be almost consumed by the earth, sitting eternally in wait to be rediscovered. Circular stone alters with centering fixtures of very similar style exist in the forest of Foxboro Massachusetts, although there, they are covered by an ocean of foliage, and equally hard to decipher (An example of the circular alter is shown below, white granite and quartz stones covered by the classic red/orange leaves of New England trails/Please click on photos to look closer). Another wonderful feature of Pen-Y-Pass are the old stone dwellings, most likely of the medieval period, that have been long since abandoned by herdsman and farmers for lack of resources in the valley. The hills of this landscape are huge, with entire sections quarried out and abandoned. Some portions of the quarrying look to have been carried out perhaps no more than five hundred years ago, with less growth upon it, while other massive stones are completely grown over with moss, as if it were done perhaps thousands of years ago. Perhaps Pen-Y-Pass’s most shining quality is the feeling there. The air, when the weather is agreeable, is comfortably cool and clear. Everything you see: mountain, lake, hill, valley, look to be cut from the sky by a diamond. There is an echo in the soft and subtle movements of rams, water, and distant trailblazers. The car-park for this trail is just off the A4086 highway. If you ever come through this valley, do yourself a fantastic favor and plan at least one day to walk the timeless Celtic trail at Pen-Y-Pass, it just shouldn’t be missed.