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North Wales Landscape Photography Guide

By: simonkit

The route along the A4086, particularly between the two villages of Capel Curig and Llanberis has an abundance of opportunities for the landscape photographer, it is also the route most first time visitors to Snowdonia take as it passes through some stunning scenery. Capel Curig, surrounded on all sides by impressive scenery, is a popular place from which to climb the many mountains in the area and provides an excellent base if wishing to spend some time discovering the mountain summits. The Afon Llugwy river also runs through the centre, providing the spectacle of the Pont Cyfyng falls, particularly photogenic after a period of rainfall.

On leaving Capel Curing via the A4086 towards Llanberis, the valley widens and the lakes of "Llynnau Mymbyr" appear in view surrounded on one side by the solitary Moel Siabod and the Glyderau mountains on the other. More distant can be seen the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon. These lakes provide a good subject, particularly with the surrounding mountain backdrop and a short walk will produce several vantage points. Moel Siabod too provides the perfect vantage point, either for an aerial shot of the impressive valley or more likely the unbroken view across to Snowdon. It's also a relatively gentle mountain to climb so requires a little less energy than most in the area.

Continuing along the A4080, passing the lakes of Llynnau Mymbyr, several abandoned barns are easily located and with a little effort can create a very effective foreground to the distant Snowdon. The Glyderau mountain range towers above the road all the way to the junction of the A498 and the A4086, the start of the 'not-to-be-missed' Llanberis Pass. Parking near the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, allows access to several hiking routes which climb the Glyderau - in my view the most distinct and feature rich mountains around Snowdonia - don't miss the rock formations of Yr Wyddfa and Castell y Gwynt on Glyder Fach, essential photography subjects. One word of warning though, this area is extremely busy during peak holidays so to capture a landscape shot devoid of people requires a very early start, alternatively winter is much quieter and the weather often more conducive to photography.

Immediately after the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel turn right onto the Llanberis pass. This climbs steeply and reaches the carpark & Youth Hostel at Pen-y-Pass, the most popular starting place for those climbing Snowdon. For the photographer looking for some impressive aerial photographs, Snowdon will certainly not disappoint. From Pen-Y-Pass the "Pyg Track", is the route to take, after a short distance the view to Llanberis and its lakes appears, an impressive sight and worthy of a photograph. Also from here mountain streams start to tumble down the mountain side, great foreground interest. The routes here provide many photographic opportunties, too many to describe tham all. Most notable however, are Grib Coch, an ominous looking ridge only to be crossed by experienced hikers. There are two particularly photogenic lakes well below the mountain path, Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn - a wide angle lens is essential to do them justice. The mountain views to Lliwedd, Crib Y Ddysgl and Snowdon itself are all impressive. For the energetic photographer who continues to the summit, whilst the view is impressive, personally I don't believe it's nearly as photogenic as those available during the climb. One notable summit feature is the unique train that, except for the winter months, brings hundreds of tourists to the top of Snowdon - forget any thought of mountain isolation, this is a difficult summit from which to capture a "person free" shot. The train itself makes an interesting photographic subject as it winds its way up the steep track from llanberis. It also provides another option for those photographers not too keen on hiking to the top of a mountain.

Back at the Pen-Y-Pass Youth Hostel an excellent vantage point of both Snowdon and the Llanberis Pass itself can be captured with minimum effort. Take the path which climbs the mountain side directly at the side of the Youth Hostel, heading up the Glyderau mountains. Within a very short distance and minimal climbing the impressive views of Snowdon, Crib Goch, Crib y Ddysgl and down the Llanberis Pass itself are seen. This viewpoint is a much easier option than the "Pyg Track" and still provides some rewarding photography.

Back on the A4086, the road drops dramatically down the boulder strewn Llanberis Pass towards the village of Nant Peris, passing along the way a series of waterfalls and mountain streams, each increasing in drama and photogenic qualities following heavy rainfall. Nant Peris itself provides an opportunity for a walkabout with the camera, there are also hiking routes up either side of the pass, towards either Snowdon or the Glyderau mountains. Once again as the height increases so does the mountain panorama that can be capture.

Continuing from Nant Peris towards Llanberis be careful not to miss a hidden gem, Dolbadarn Castle. It's perched imposingly alongside the entrance to Llanberis but is hidden from view on approach. Fortunately signposts uncover its hiding place. The small climb to the castle produces a surprisingly impressive panorama of the Llanberis Pass, Snowdon and the Glyderau. The castle itself, relatively unknown amongst Welsh castles, is a great subject - a "must visit" on my photography list. The lake of Llyn Padarn can be seen from the castle, together with the numerous slate quarry workings scattered around the Llanberis mountainsides. Llanberis itself was built around the Slate mining industry and retains many of the scars, however these actually add to the photogenic qualities of this interesting place, as does Llyn Padarn. Llanberis is also the base for the Snowdon Mountain Railway, a "must see" for train enthusiasts. It's worthwhile having a stroll around the village, streams and waterfalls can be found within a short distance, Llyn Padarn is particularly photogenic. Another series of hiking routes onto the surrounding mountains leave from here too, the most popular being the Llanberis Path which follows the route of the railway to the top of Snowdon.

If I were only to have a short time in this area and had to choose my favourite places for the most productive photography I would select Pen-Y-Pass and walk a short distance along both the "Pyg Track" and the route opposite, alongside the Youth Hostel - both produce impressive viewpoints. The other highlight for me is Dolbadarn Castle, infrequently photographed, which comes as a great surprise to me considering its excellent location and appearance.

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My website :Landscape Photography UK .com North Wales landscape photographs - Anglesey, Snowdonia and other UK regions.

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