Far in the North of 'Castle Country' lies the county with a dual personality - Gwynedd. To the West, Gwynedd overlooks the dynamic Irish Sea with swathes of rock strewn beaches, while to the North-East Snowdonia National Park provides equal tranquility and beautiful scenery, with it's backbone of jagged mountains. Archaic twee villages such as Blaenau Ffestiniog are best known for their affiliations with mining, yet are also location of intriguing Welsh attractions such as the Llechwedd Slate Caverns. By contrast, Gwynedd's neighbouring towns of Caernarfon and Bangor are an equal blend of prehistoric and new attractions, ranging from the vast medieval fortress that is Caernarfon Castle to the Victorian Bangor Pier - proving that Gwynedd is far from a past-it seaside county. For fantastic holiday rentals in Gwynedd.
Bala Lake Railway, Llanuwchllyn
Key South of Bala Lake, within the expansive mountainous Snowdonia National Park lies a 19th Century gem just waiting to be uncovered. The venerable Bala Lake Railway links the sleepy mountainside village of Llanuwchllyn with the market town of Bala in the valley, taking in the majestic Arenig Fawr, Aran Benllyn and Aran Fawddwy mountains along it's route and providing some of the best vistas in Gwynedd. The line is served by a fleet of Victorian steam trains - the very same to have been used for the past hundred years and admission includes a tour of the 1896 signal box still in operation at Llanuwchllyn. www.bala-lake-railway.co.uk
Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog
Home to the steepest operating railroad in Britain, the chic chocolate box village of Blaenau Ffestiniog is a must see should you be in the vicinity of South-Western Gwynedd. A former working mine until the 1970's, the Llechwedd Slate Mine is now open to visitors on a year-round basis (weather permitting.) Visitors have the option of two alternate mine routes; the Miner's Tramway transports guests via a small steam train through ground level caverns and the slabbing mill, while the Deep Mine experience descends into the very heart of the mine (over 200 feet underground) via a cable car system. Guests are invited on a walk-through tour of some 60 tunnels and 10 church sized chambers, discovering for themselves what life was like as a 19th Century miner. www.llechwedd-slate-caverns.co.uk
Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery, Bangor
The relatively unassuming grey brick schoolhouse seems probably the last place you'd expect to find one of Gwynedd's most eccentric museums, and yet the former Bangor University building is one of the few in town to comprise collections of both the University and the Council. An abundance of pottery and sculptures line the textiles gallery, with some archaeological finds dating back to over 500 years, as well as exhibits detailing a fascinating maritime and mining history affiliated with the town. www.gwynedd.gov.uk/gwy_doc.asp?cat=3657&doc=13261&Language=1
Greenwood Forest Park, Y Felinheli
Situated within the North Western quarter of the county, Greenwood Forest Park is an adventure land like no other. From it's treetop assault course to it's people-powered roller-coaster 'Green Dragon', everything about the quirky outdoor fun factory relies upon eco-friendly energy to keep it running. The 70 metre Great Green Run is the longest sledge system in Wales, with the added exception each sledge relies upon gravity to propel it down the slippery slope. Jungle Boat Adventure isn't for the muscle-challenged, since overhead ropes are the only pull-along contraptions to steer your boat through this woody swamp. With a forest theatre, archery corner and den building lessons, Greenwood puts the fun into environmental awareness and challenges even the fittest of adults to feel the burn. www.greenwoodforestpark.co.uk
Which Gwynedd tourist attractions have you enjoyed?