There is nowhere quite like Snowdonia in the rest of Britain. The combination of bleak, rugged mountains scarred by industry and the lush valleys with their puffing steam trains and babbling brooks snaking down to the sea, makes it a land of contrasts, a testament to man’s constant battle to tame nature.
Snowdonia is pretty damn good at any time of the year but it’s absolutely stunning in the autumn as the trees and bracken burn orange on the hillsides. Depending on where you live it’s a big journey. Starting from, say, Manchester, you can be there in no time, but the trek from London is rather more tiresome. But don’t let the grind of the M1 put you off upgrading the weekend you have planned ‘doing chores’ and watching Strictly to a short break in this beautiful part of the world. Every part of you will thank yourself for this retreat.
The weather in Snowdonia can of course be dreadful. But we live by the motto ‘there is no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothing’ and the great thing about expecting rain is that when it fails to appear you will find yourself feeling inordinately happy. Last Saturday we awoke in our holiday cottage, having arrived in the pitch black the evening before, and looked out the window to see the autumn sunshine was lighting up the mountains as if it had put match to touchpaper. It was like looking out onto an oil painting.
The thing to do with Snowdonia is to go remote, find the perfect rural location and the most welcoming cottage and forget about stressful modern life. After all, all you really need at this time of year is a roaring log fire, a bottle of red, a decent book and a stew bubbling away in the oven and you’re sorted.
Our insider secret is Under the Thatch. Their’s is the best website for Welsh rental cottages and their ethos is about unspoilt, traditional dwellings in remote locations. Expect no wifi and no phone reception but do expect Melin Tregwynt blankets, ageless wooden furniture and flagstone floors.
Our favourite cottages are Cae Einion (which sleeps 4) and Gallestra (which sleeps 6), two homes owned by the same family, both situated in the same valley just outside the charming little town of Dolgellau, sitting at the base of the magnificent Cadair Idris (Idris’s Chair) mountain. Gallestra and Cae Einion are the only two houses in sight, and you can do stunning walks straight from the house armed just with an OS map so there’s not really any need to go anywhere at all. Both cottages are dog-friendly and have enclosed gardens, perfect for stopping your dog chasing the omnipresent sheep.
Yes it’s far, but it’s oh-so worth it and it’s what your weekend has been waiting for.
Perfectly placed for a swift getaway to the Cotswolds, the Village Pub in Barnsley has a perfect old world interior but food that is resolutely 21st Century.
Why heading north in November and embracing all the atmospheric loveliness that autumn has to offer is the key to surviving winter down south.