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Top landscape photography spots in Snowdonia

Posted on 13 March 2018 in 
One spur-of-the-moment booking and two weeks later: we’re in Wales. In the Winter, as the climbers thin and the campers dwindle, the great valleys and soaring ranges of Snowdonia open themselves up to a lovely bit of landscape photography.

We based ourselves in near Capel Curig, allowing ourselves to traverse Wales’s largest national park quickly via the A5. With the mighty Tryfan, Glyder Fawr and Snowdon mountains on our doorstep, we didn’t need to travel far to explore some of the UK’s most iconic terrain.

Visiting in February offered short, but improving, daylight hours, frost-capped mountains and low sunlight throughout the day: a match made in heaven for the budding landscape photographer.

This was my first photography venture in Wales. With a huge to-do list and limited daylight hours, the planning process seemed overwhelming. But when it came to it boy, did we make a go of it.

Location 1

Tryfan and the Ogwen Valley

A lone Hosta leaf
Tryfan is one of the UK’s most recognisable mountains. Its sharp form and rugged crags stand out within the Ogwen Valley, lending itself well to all kinds of landscape photography.

Intimate shots of Tryfan’s jagged surface emphasises the brutality of its construction and dominance, and can be captured best in the morning when the rising light hits the mountain’s iconic “three peaks”.

This image was from the side of the road at approximately 10am. It was the only day clear enough that we could see the summit. It was completely unplanned, but I’m excited about the final image.
A lone Hosta leaf
If you’d rather shoot wide and photograph Tryfan in full, both sunset and sunrises can offer beautifully dramatic light from across Llyn Ogwen.

There are many routes that track Tryfan’s largest feeding river: Afon Lloer, up the opposite side of Ogwen with a number of streams, rapids and other interesting foreground elements. It’s an easy hike, and you can scale half of the river in approximately 30 minutes from roadside parking.

Light wasn’t in our favour, so I instead opted for a moody panorama that captured the rolling clouds covering the mountains.
A lone Hosta leaf
Location 2

Cwm Idwal and Llyn Idwal

Joining two halves of the Ogwen Valley, Cwm Idwal is a “hanging valley” that suspends Llyn Idwal against the backdrop of the Glyderau Mountains. It’s a quick and easy 20 minute hike up from the National Trust visitor centre, and offers spectacular panoramic views of Llyn Ogwen, Llyn Idwal and the entire Ogwen valley.
A close up of Bluebell foliage
The valley is laden with falls, rapids and streams which serve as wonderful foreground and mountains dominate the skyline. Due to the altitude of the valley and the close proximity of the surrounding peaks, the effective sunrises and sunsets are shifted somewhat, meaning the light is still quite good in the mid-mornings and mid-afternoons.
A close up of Bluebell foliage
From here, you are almost at eye-level with the passing jets on training exercises from RAF Valley: just another sight to behold!
A close up of Bluebell foliage
Location 3

The Lone Tree, Llanberis

Dappled light on the Acer
No photographer’s first trip to Snowdonia would be complete without a visit to one of the UK’s most photographed scenes.

Not much needs to be said about this location other than to keep one eye on the weather forecast. I wanted a calm, misty morning shot of the tree with a sharp reflection and were blessed with perfect conditions on the morning we drove to Wales.

On a clear day, the sun rises behind the tree over Snowdon’s greatest mountains – meaning early starts are advised.

Side note: keep an eye out for ducks heading your way if you’re hoping for reflections in perfectly still water. They’re well-fed and love to try and ruin a good photograph.
Location 4

Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen is a natural, tree-lined gorge carved by the River Conwy. Sadly, the land has been privatised as part of a B&B and Fairy Glen is no longer free to visit. Reviews around the internet warn of owners that hide, watch you enter and immediately check the honesty box to ensure you paid your way.

Frankly, I don’t support this. Nature and its beauty should be free for all to enjoy respectully, especially if part of a National Park. Instead of heading directly for Fairy Glen, we crossed the bridge and viewed it from the other side. There’s some beautiful patterns in the stone that have been carved by the currents, a cute bridge and a lovely smaller river: Afon Lledr, nearby.
This one didn’t make the cut, but it’s a good one to learn from
Location 5

Llyn Gwynant

Llyn Gwynant is an incredibly peaceful lake – a little less popular with tourists and hikers – but serenely beautiful.

There is ample roadside parking, and the drive from the Lake up through to Capel Curig on the A498 is absolutely stunning – making it slow going when you want to stop every few minutes to try out different compositions.
This one didn’t make the cut, but it’s a good one to learn from
I would definitely recommend checking out this location, and would have loved to be able to spend more time exploring the surrounding area.
This one didn’t make the cut, but it’s a good one to learn from
Snowdonia is undoubtedly one of the most photogenic locations I have ever visited. It’s also surprisingly vast, and although we made quick work of the A roads, I would have loved to spend a bit more time exploring some of Wales’s nooks and crannies that lay further off the beaten track, for that’s where Wales’s true beauty lies.

During our stint in Wales, we also spent some time on Anglesey. Keep your eyes peeled for another post soon!

Field notes

Quick tips for travelling through Snowdonia

  • most car parks were ‘Pay & Display’ and roadside parking was rare in particular areas. Make sure you have a handful of loose change at all times.

  • many natural attractions (waterfalls, gorges etc.) were on private land and no longer free to enter. We even experienced a couple of Ordnance Survey map routes that had been fenced off by new landowners in order to channel you through the new, tourists entrance.

  • petrol stations, shops and cash machines are few and far between, but Betys-y-Coed, Llanberis and Bangor all contained most, if not all, required amenities.

  • the North Wales Expressway makes day trips to Anglesey from North-West England very achievable.
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