Guided adventure family walks in our great outdoors
Getting out and about in Snowdonia Mountains and Coast, the UK’s adventure capital, isn’t just for hardcore hikers and extreme sports enthusiasts. Eryri/Snowdonia, Llŷn and the Cambrian Coast welcomes families too – and a professionally guided walk is one of the best ways for explorers of all ages to experience our inspiring land- and seascapes. We’re not just talking about visitors new to the area. There’s a growing appreciation amongst our own local communities that there’s a wealth of places to discover right on the doorstep.
This part of the world is renowned for its space, fresh air and freedom – all the things we’ve been missing in the last year or so. Walking is all about renewal, wellbeing and that direct connection with the natural environment. And we make the going easy, paving the way with a huge choice of guided walks from companies like Anelu Aim Higher and RAW Adventures. Both have spent years leading groups in all kinds of outdoor activities across the region and are participants in the Eryri Ambassador Scheme so you can be sure you’ll be in safe and experienced hands on walks tailor-made for families.
Bethesda-born Stephen Jones of Anelu Aim Higher has turned a lifelong love of the mountains into a career as a guide and outdoor instructor. ‘I’m passionate about sowing the seed for youngsters’, he says. ‘If they have a good experience in the outdoors then they’ll want to get back out there again.’
Route selection is all-important if you want a walk that all members of the family can enjoy (something every parent knows). ‘If we’re taking out kids aged from six or seven, we’re looking at lower level walks with regular stops and points of interest along the way – plus some sheltered spots where you can have a picnic,’ Stephen says.
Originally from the South of England, Kate Worthington of RAW Adventures came to Snowdonia to pursue her passion for outdoor adventure and find the perfect place for her daughter to grow up.
As a parent, she understands how vital it is to tailor the walking experience to the party’s youngest members. ‘We’ll often try and dissuade families from doing a big long walk up Snowdon and offer more suitable alternatives,’ she says. ‘We’ve had some lovely walks through Dinorwig quarries, up to Glyder Fawr and around Llanberis. There’s no need to drag their kids up to the top of the mountain when you can have a lovely time going somewhere completely different.’
One of the big benefits of heading out with a professional guide is the chance to see some of Snowdonia Mountains and Coast’s lesser-known landscapes. Snowdon’s summit exerts a powerful pull, but it’s only part of a much larger experience.
Many of Anelu Aim Higher’s family-friendly walks are focused around the picturesque town of Beddgelert, which offers a range of circular and linear routes. You can get off the beaten track at Rhyd-ddu, a little village on Snowdon’s southern side, or explore Welsh heritage on a walk between the National Trust’s Craflwyn Hall and Dinas Emrys. Home to an Iron Age fort, this wooded hill is also rich in mythological tales of battling dragons, secret caves and hidden treasure, more than enough to fire the imagination of youngsters.
‘It’s a good opportunity for some storytelling,’ says Stephen. ‘We’ll chat as we walk so that both the kids and the adults can learn something about the area’s history and legends.’ Other highlights include a lovely circular walk from Nantmor through Cwm Bychan to the mountain-ringed lake of Llyn Dinas, which is packed with fascinating legends, history, wildlife and geology.
While ascents of Snowdon are a big part of their business, RAW Adventures’ family walks showcase a different side of the region. The walk from Capel Curig to the rocky 1,138ft/347m summit of Clogwyn Mawr is perfect for younger explorers while still providing some stunning views of the Snowdon Horseshoe.
There’s also the rounded Moel Eilio range above Llanberis, which combines easy-going terrain with lots of grassy hills for kids to roll up and down. The climb up to Cnicht (sometimes called the Welsh Matterhorn) is another popular family route, featuring some fun rocky scrambles in a compact and manageable mileage.
A professionally guided walk is also a great way to learn more about the landscapes of Snowdonia Mountains and Coast. Look upon it as an outdoor classroom or the chance to rediscover your own backyard. ‘We try and open up people’s eyes to aspects of their landscape that they might not be aware of,’ says Kate. ‘That could be historical stories and legends, information on how the valleys and mountains were formed, explaining Welsh place names and pointing out types of rock like quartz and slate. That can then lead into the history of industries, people and communities in the area. Ideally, people go away having learned something they didn’t know before.’
‘Ultimately, it’s about enjoyment,’ says Stephen. ‘It’s about keeping the ambitions for the day achievable for the youngsters and making sure there is something to keep them interested in what they’re doing rather than just slogging up and down Snowdon.’
But a guided family walk isn’t only good news for the younger party members. ‘Some families have commented that joining a group with another adult leader can engage the kids more,’ explains Kate. ‘It allows the parents to relax a bit as maybe the kids won’t act up as much as they do with Mum and Dad.’