Wales has some of the most beautiful locations to photograph in the UK, and so many are in Snowdonia National Park.
I visited myself as a young girl many times to the same place each year, yet I did not appreciate the beauty until many years later.
Born in South Wales, Steffan readily admits to not having explored Wales to its fullest.
After purchasing a photography book about Snowdonia National Park and North Wales created by Fotovue, we scribbled plans months in advance.
So, when we were deciding where to head on our two weeks annual leave, camera and notebooks in tow, Snowdonia national park and the wonders of North Wales were in the forefront of our restless minds.
Here are some of our favourite beauty spots we explored on our adventure in North Wales
Pistyll Rhaeadr is an enchanting waterfall in the Berwyn Mountains in Snowdonia National Park. It is the tallest in Wales and wearing the crown for Britain’s tallest single-drop waterfall at 240ft high!
We arrived early and whilst the car park wasn’t open there were available parking spots just 5 minutes’ walk down the road. We had the waterfall almost entirely to ourselves, and we saw a total of around eight people in two hours who came and left in quick succession. And so it is worth getting there early. We got there at 6.30 AM!
It was our first morning in the Welsh lands, and being sat eating porridge, watching this captivating waterfall was the perfect way to start our trip!
Tips & Location Info
- There is an official car park at the foot of the waterfall, which is pay and display, but we are not entirely sure of the cost as we didn’t use it.
- If you arrive early enough, you will get a free spot just down the road and a 5-minute walk. But there are only around six spots in total, so get there first!
- The walk to the waterfall’s base is easy peasy and just 5 minutes from the car park and 10 minutes from the parking spots; the hike up to the top of the waterfall takes around an hour and is quite steep but manageable.
- When the car park opens, the tea rooms and restaurant facilities do so.
- As well as tea rooms, there’s a campsite, bed and breakfast and even a holiday cottage on-site if you feel like staying there a few nights and really seeing what the areas has to offer!
For unique compositions bring a pair of wellies to get into the middle of the rocks and water.
Cregannan Lakes was one of our favourite morning spots and just a 15-minute drive from where we were staying at the beautiful Coed Cabins– Click here to read all about this little slice of Snowdonian heaven!
Being a popular National Trust location in Snowdonia National Park, we expected to be sharing the space with at least a few others, but there was no one. Just the two of us. For the next 4 hours, we wandered around, taking photographs, filming, and waking up along with the rest of the world.
Tips & Location Info.
- Cregennan Lakes are owned by the National Trust and are renowned for their tremendous views of the Mawddach Estuary and Barmouth Bridge from near the lake.
- The lakes are situated on the northern slopes of Cadair Idris, some 800 ft. above sea level, and so it goes without saying, the views are just stunning with clear mountain reflections in all directions and towered over by snow-capped mountain peaks.
- There is not only a car park, but there is a toilet, can we get a WOOHOO – especially from those ladies! It was a relief.
- Two natural lakes that form Cregannan are connected by walking or a single-track road through the mountains.
Across the lake from the boathouse try to find half-submerged rocks to make an interesting foreground subject.
The sea stacks were not on our itinerary, which is mostly unheard of for plan obsessed InWanderment. But we had some spare time (also unheard of) and saw some footage of this coastal heaven on a YouTube video and decided to head there for sunset on a breezy mid-week evening.
Google Trefor Sea Stacks, and there is not much information online, so it was not a surprise. It was pretty quiet and seemed more frequented by locals on their afternoon walks than tourists having picnics. That could have also had something to do with the sheer vertigo-inducing drops at the cliffside, which are roughly 0.5 metres from you at any given moment on the footpath.
I spent 90 minutes with constant dizzy spells clinging to the ground sat in sheep poo with no care other than the small comfort that I was too heavy to be blown off the cliff and could not lose my balance whilst lying down.
Sheer drops I can deal with (kind of, from a distance) but the wind. Oh. MY. Goodness. The wind was something else. But, fellow adventurers, do not let me put you off, for I have been known to be, on occasion, slightly “dramatic”, and whilst I disagree, I cannot ignore the opinion of my loveable husband.
Steffan being the absolute trooper he is, retained his composure and whilst his tripod and entire self was being blown to bits, he still managed to get a few good shots.
Was it worth it?
Would I go again?
It depends on the wind speed.
Tips & Location Info
- Trefor is situated on the stunning Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales.
- The hike up to the stacks is pretty straightforward and not too strenuous, but check wind speeds and stay away from the edges if you suffer from vertigo. It’s mighty high!
- If you keep walking around the coast, you will reach huge mountains with a beautiful beach which is perfect for views (and shelter from the wind)
- Location wise it could not be more perfect. The sea on one side and mountains on the other. Perfectly picturesque.
It is best to come here on a calm day. It was too windy to take a long exposure shot comfortably when we visited, and we just about managed a half a second exposure when the wind died down. Bring an ND filter for long exposure shots. A breaking wave can be used as a leading line toward the rocks.
Cwm Idwal Cirque is a unique mountain range stretching across northern Snowdonia National Park. It is said to have been a favourite haunt of Charles Darwin and became the first National Nature Reserve in Wales in 1954.
It is a popular area with walkers and hikers. You would not necessarily know at 6 AM when we arrived, aside from a few walkers and the shepherd for the range (Yes, we met the shepherd who walks his dogs around 7 AM, cool, right?!), it was pretty quiet.
Much to my relief, after some more strenuous hikes for a fair few days prior, Cwm Idwal was a reasonably easy walk with a gentle incline to the first lake and waterfall. It was breathtaking, as was the wind that day! Truly stunning and one not to be missed! The whole area has just a magical feel to it, dotted with waterfalls and lakes you can see in the distance, and we didn’t even go very far.
And if you are not yet convinced – there are also a herd of mountain goats. I mean, what more could you want?? Easily up there in our top five spots In Snowdonia National Park!
Tips & Location Info
- Parking is £6.50 for a day and card only, and whilst we got a spot quickly, we had heard it gets pretty full before 10 AM, so get there early!
- There are toilets, another win from us!
- There is a little shop that sells cake, tea and coffee, and pasties, which was an absolute delight after having been up since 4 AM.
Being surrounded by mountains with intermittent cloudy weather gives many opportunities for amazing photos. Try carrying your camera handheld when hiking to capture any fleeting light that could create an exciting image.
South Stack Lighthouse
Built in 1809 to warn ships of the dangerous rocks below, South Stack is set on a small island off the north coast of Holy Island in Angelsey.
Another location where we would advise you to check the wind speeds before visiting as our trip was nothing short of harrowing. (Okay … slightly dramatic, maybe)
I honestly feared for my life, making my way down those stairs.
The section where the handrail was no more, you just had to cling to the wall as you made your way around whilst experiencing memories flash before your very eyes as you felt sure the wind would blow you over the ledge in any given moment.
My hat almost blew off numerous times, and my phone nearly got blown out of my hand. I was so scared going around one corner that had created some magical (without the happy bits) wind tunnel that a stranger who was too glued to the corner had to hold my hand whilst I crawled around the corner up the stone steps on all fours. It was all very dramatic. It felt like one of those scenes in a movie where someone runs away with their arm around a stranger trying to save them from a hurricane or something. He was just as nervous as me—or so I told myself.
However, we have learnt the lesson to pass on to you – check wind speeds before visiting!
Despite the tornado, It was beautiful all the same.
Tips & Location Info
- The historic South Stack Lighthouse was built in 1809 and is located on a small island reached via a descent of 400 steps down the cliffs. If viewing it out from the outside is not enough for you, then you can also pay £6 per adult for a tour where you can visit the former lighthouse engine room before climbing to the top of the lighthouse.
- The first tip – check the wind speeds. Anglesey is a windy place anyway, and honestly, high winds are not fun; no one else stayed longer than 5 minutes. Just don’t do it.
- There is parking, and the walk down is pretty easy if there is no wind, although there are 400 steps in total, so not totally without effort.
- Before visiting, we had also read that we would likely see lots of seabirds, including guillemots, razorbills, and puffins. Still, since the wind was so tremendously vicious, we sadly didn’t see anything. They were not silly enough to come out that evening either.
When we were at South Stack is was too windy to explore anywhere beyond the path safely, and strong winds meant no chance of a long exposure and a slight chance of being blown off the cliffs. With this in mind, check the weather forecast before going, and there is even a specific wind forecast for South Stack.
Aber falls, also known as Rhaedr Fawr in Welsh, is a waterfall located about two miles south of the village of Abergwyngregyn in Snowdonia National Park and is around 37 metres in height. The surrounding stroll there, whilst not challenging, is just over a mile each way and dotted with trees, fields, flowers and historic buildings. Whilst, not the tallest, we did feel that it held its own and was beautifully unique.
We had underestimated how far 1.25 miles was. Or maybe it just felt much more as we were so exhausted, who knows.
But oh, was it worth it! Even in the rain!
Tips & Location Info
- Aber Falls (also known as Rhaeadr Fawr in Welsh) is located in Snowdonia National Park in North Wales and is 37m in height.
- Aber Fall has two car parks that cost around £3 to park and have toilets to use – yippee!!!
- Along the walk to the Falls, there are a few exciting Bronze aged settlements such as a roundhouse and smithy, and there are some stone circles, which are interesting to check out.
- There are several picnic benches as you approach and at the Falls, and this bridge was a perfect viewpoint.
The full scale of Aber falls can only be captured from a distance. With this in mind, try using a telephoto lens, and a little compression will capture the whole scene more effectively.
We decided to get up at 2.45 AM…… YES, 2.45 AM (We are clearly mad) …. to try and get there for the sunrise, and we made it! Although the pink hues in the sky lasted just 15 minutes and had floated on by the time we got into position to take photographs, it remained just as beautiful.
Surrounded by farm fields, rocky crags, small waterfalls and the River running down into Llyn Ogwen, it is genuinely a stunning landscape and one super unique to any other we have seen.
Despite being tired, having soaking wet feet from the boggy grounds (as it was a particularly cold and wet May) and sitting in sheep poo for well over 30 minutes, it was the most magical sunrise we have ever had witnessed.
Listening to the birds sing and watching the clouds roll over the mountains was so atmospheric and something we won’t forget in a hurry.
Tips & Location Info
- If you get there early, which we suggest you do, there is parking along the roadside, but later in the day, this may be full, and you might have to look elsewhere. That said, it’s a super popular spot, so there will be spaces in the area.
- You can hike Tryfan but be warned even the easiest route is classified as a scramble, so not necessarily one to get the picnic out.
- If you want something less strenuous, but you still want to experience the magic, there are some beautiful walks around the lake with views of Tryfan; no scramble is required.
From the opposite hill, you can see Tryfan in all its glory. A stream runs down the hill with lots of attractive mini waterfalls, rocks, bushes, and trees to create foreground interest.
Trwyn Du Lighthouse, also known as Penmon Lighthouse, is situated between Black point and Puffin Island to the East of Anglesey and marks the passageway between the two. The lighthouse was constructed in 1838 after a call for its build for many years.
We are always mesmerised by lighthouses; there is something so majestic and purposeful about them. The history, often steeped in stories and witnessed to so much more than we ever will, visiting them always feels special.
Penmon is one of our favourites.
We arrived just before sunrise, and it was utterly magical. Purple hues in the sky, no sounds but bird call from the nearby Puffin Island and the gentle lapping waves we felt as though we were the only people awake in the world.
It is worth noting the lighthouse can only be fully accessed at low tide, and whilst the rocks are very slippy and covered in seaweed, being up so close and personal to this beautiful lighthouse is worth the slipping and sliding.
Tips & Location Info
- Penmon Point is a great place to spot puffins, dolphins and harbour porpoise in summer, and seals are often resident to Puffin Island and so often seen close to the shore around Penmon.
- There is plenty of parking, and we even saw a few campers there in the early morning.
- We have since learnt that there is a Toll charge to access Penmon, so make sure you carry some cash. As we arrived at 4.30 AM and had left by 7 AM, we seemed to have missed this, but it’s worth noting for future visits.
At low tide, the path to Penmon lighthouse is exposed, creating a nice leading line to the lighthouse. There is also an island not far from the shore that can be used to give a greater sense of scale to the lighthouse.
When we saw this place in our Fotovue book, it took our minds back to the similar magical gorge we had visited in Scotland, and we can confirm it did not disappoint; it’s just as beautiful!
The Fairy Glen or Ffos Anoddun in Welsh is a secluded gorge and beauty spot that lies on the Conwy River and is considered one of the prettiest spots in the area.
It is named the Fairy Glen for the mythical sprites which are said to live there and have inspired many writers and poets to scribble down thoughts invoked by this magical place.
Sadly, we didn’t get to see any fairies or mythical creatures this time – but maybe a reason to go back!
Tips & Location Info
- The land is privately owned and so there is a small fee to access. £1 for parking and then 50p each to access the grounds, which pays for the upkeep of the paths. There is an honesty box at the entrance, and the owner kindly offered us change for a note as we didn’t have any.
- There are two walking routes down; one is along the River, and the other leads straight to the gorge; both take around 30 minutes and require decent walking shoes but are stunning, weaving in and out of animal fields and woodland.
- The walk down to it is not the easiest, but then again, it’s a gorge so, kind of goes with the territory, and there was no abseiling rope like we had to use for the Devils Pulpit– just small, slippery steps, so be sure to wear hiking boots!
- It is located near the famous and equally beautiful Betws-y-Coed – just 10 minutes from the centre.
- Once you are down – it couldn’t be more different to the devil’s pulpit and is rocky in every direction and requires some light scrambling around – you may struggle to set up a tripod super easily. Still, there are many boulders at the bottom of the steps and some flat enough to get set up.
- Lastly, my favourite hot topic is that sadly, there are no toilets, so make sure you go before you park up!
Arrive as early as possible to ensure there aren’t many people getting in the way of your shots. We were at the spot in summer, but this place would be at its best in autumn due to the surrounding woodland overhanging the glen.
One of the many things North Wales can boast is its variety of stunning and uniquely diverse waterfalls.
Dolgoch has to be up there in our top three!
The Dolgoch Falls is a series of three waterfalls based in Gwynedd and a popular walk from the nearby Dolgoch station on the Talyllyn Railway.
Around a 90-minute walk to see all three, although we were so mesmerised with the first, we barely scratched the surface!
Tips & Location Info
- The first waterfall is a short 20-minute walk from the car park, and in all honesty, we could have spent the whole time here exploring this stunning waterfall from various viewpoints.
- The car park is pay and display, and we paid £2 for four hours
- You can view the first waterfall from the left-hand side by walking straight on where there is also a small cave to be explored and the right-hand side by crossing a bridge further down the path as you walk away from the fall. Both viewpoints are equally as stunning!
Bring a pair of wellies or waders to get some unique compositions here. In summer ferns can be used to create foreground interest.
If you plan to twin your North Wales trip with stunning South Wales, you can check out our guide on How to spend the perfect weekend in Pembrokeshire HERE