North Wales’ slate region will receive its official nomination as a Unesco World Heritage site later in January. Martin Smith, of glamping specialist Campsites.co.uk has picked out 10 brilliant places to stay and explore the area.
The Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog
The Llechwedd Slate Caverns near the mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog are Wales’ most famous slate attraction and provide a window into this region’s extraordinary heritage. The above-and-below ground adventure includes hilltop tours to old mining sites and a descent on Britain’s steepest cable railway to discover caverns and tunnels below ground. Pitched on the steep hillside are six safari lodges with terraces offering views across the rugged landscape and quarries. The glamping site won a Visit Wales Gold Award in 2018, and despite the rocky setting the lodges sleep up to five and have solid wooden floors, welcoming beds, their own showers and flushing toilets. Wood burners keep things cosy.
Details: Two nights for up to five sharing from £240 (www.campsites.co.uk/go/28100, 01766 830306).
Coed Helen Holiday Park, Caernarfon
The Snowdonia Slate trail runs for 83 miles in a circular route through the mountainous terrain of North Wales. Those who want to dip into a short section of the fabulous trail can stay in one of the brand new luxury glamping pods at Coed Helen Holiday Park, which is just five miles from the trail at Waunfawr, where a six mile section of the route takes walkers through wooded hillside to open moorland for views of the extensive slate workings at Nantile Valley. The luxury glamping pods at Coed Helen offer the perfect chance to rest up, with space for six thanks to a mezzanine level and decking with a fire pit.
Details: Three nights for up to six people from £250 (www.campsites.co.uk/go/20980,01286 672852).
Glanmor Isaf Farm, Bangor
The National Slate Museum in Caernarfon is a frozen-in-time picture of the lives of Victorian quarrymen and engineers. Combine a visit with a stay at Glanmor Isaf Farm, just 10 miles away in Bangor, in a spacious safari tent hideaway pitched in an apple and pear orchard. The atmosphere on the traditional family farm is incredibly relaxed, with the views of Snowdonia and the Carneddau Mountains unchanged from the days of the slate miners. The luxurious glamping tents sleep up to five adults and one child with a double bed, bunk bed and cupboard bed.
Details: Two nights for up to five sharing from £359 (www.campsites.co.uk/go/25781, 01420 80804).
Ogwen Bank Country Park, Bethesda, Bangor
The Bethesda stretch of the National Slate Trail offers three different routes of discovery. Head north to Bangor for an easy six mile jaunt to the sea; go south west to Llanberis for a seven mile trek along riverside paths and wild moors through the heart of the old slate industry, or head south east for a longer 11 mile stretch to Capel Curig, discovering the blue cascading slate tips of the Penrhyn Quarry and the beautiful Nant Ffrancon valley. Ogwen Bank Country Park is perfectly located for starting all three routes – for a stylish stay choose the modern VIP pod which has an outdoor hot tub for soaking away sore feet.
Details: Two nights for two people from £260 (www.campsites.co.uk/go/16990, 0345 4986060).
Tan-y-fron Holiday Park, Dolgellau
Dolgellau is a former slate town with more than 200 listed buildings that are characterised by their height and stone and slate construction. Funding was introduced in 2016 to help regenerate those that had fallen into disrepair, helping the town rediscover its cultural heritage. Nearby Tan-y-fron is a small family run park with eco-friendly family pods providing back-to-basics accommodation. The wool-insulated pods are in their own private area with magnificent views and easy access to Dolgellau and routes up impressive Cadair Idris.
Details: Two nights for up to four people from £100 (www.campsites.co.uk/go/24519, 01341 422638).
Allibella Shepherd’s Hut, Llanaber, Barmouth
Cyclists who want to enjoy the traditional seaside charms of Barmouth can also take advantage of the South Snowdonia Greenway to follow 25 miles of quiet roads and cycle tracks to the incredible Llechwedd Slate Caverns near the mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. For a Barmouth stay with a difference, choose Allibella Shepherd’s Hut, set in a large garden with sea views of the Cambrian Coastline and Llyn Peninsula. The self-contained hut has an en-suite, kitchen and a king size bunk bed. Outside is a private garden with decked seating area overlooking the sea.
Henbant Permaculture Farm and Campsite, Caernarfon
Inigo Jones Slateworks was established in 1861 and is one of the last surviving examples of a fully operational slateworks in Caernarfon. Today the workshop is a thriving local business supplying slate products across the world, and visitors can see craftsmen using traditional skills and machinery to cut, shape and polish slate slabs into a host of products. Stay in the off-grid Woodland Roundhouse at Henbant Permaculture Farm and soak up the views of meadows and woodland, mountains and sea. The roundhouse sleeps five and was built from materials found nearby.
Details: From £49 per night, (www.campsites.co.uk/go/28200, 01286 660761)
Pen y Bont, Bala
Bala Lake narrow gauge railway follows a pretty nine-mile return route alongside Bala Lake, with mountain views of Arenig Fawr, Aran Benllyn and Aran Fawddwy. Guests ride steam locomotives that are more than 100 years old and were first used in the Dinorwic and Penrhyn slate quarries. Pen y Bont is a campsite just 100 metres from the shores of Bala Lake. Couples can stay in a charming bow-top gypsy caravan, which is warm, cosy and glamourous. Outside is a BBQ, fire pit and picnic bench.
Details: Two nights from £110, (www.campsites.co.uk/go/15603, 01678 520 549)
Smugglers Cove Campsite in Aberdyfi
Smugglers Cove Campsite is set in an old slate works on the edge of the River Dyfi opposite Ynyshir Bird Reserve. There are three spots for camping, but adventurous couples can choose the quirky glamping boat The Boy John. There’s room for two, the interior is comfy and cosy and the views are stunning – keep an eye out for the famous Dyfi ospreys catching their fish dinner.
Details: Short breaks from £190, (www.campsites.co.uk/go/28005, 01654 767037).
Graig Wen, Dolgellau
Graig Wen is next to the scenic 10mile Mawddach Trail, which is a disused railway track on the southern edge of the stunning Mawddach Estuary, where slate from the quarries was sent across the estuary to Barmouth. After a long walk, cosy up by the wood burning stove ina large yurt at Graig Wen, with beautiful estuary views. The yurt sleeps up to five, with a king-sized bed, futons and a camp bed.
Details: Three nights short breaks start from £330, (www.campsites.co.uk/go/27559,01341 250482)