Happy Birthday to the Snowdonia National Park
The Snowdonia National Park today celebrates its 63rd birthday! Of course the mountains and landscapes of this breath taking area in North Wales have been around for hundreds of millions of years, but thank goodness for that committee back in 1951 who agreed this was worth conserving.
The park has been in the news this past week as it played host to a conference for the outdoor tourism sector. Snowdonia has so much to offer and it is really good to see the potential of the area being taken seriously and invested in so to create a better and fulfilling experience for those who visit and for those lucky enough to live and work there. Jacky, our North Wales rep, went along and came away feeling even more positive than usual!
The National Park covers more than 820 square miles and runs from up by Conwy in the North right the way down to Aberdyfi on the West Coast. Many areas within the park are designated sites of special scientific interest or, like the 37 miles of coastline, special areas of conservation. This is vitally important for many rare and even unique species of mammal, bird and plant life that make their home here.
People are also welcomed here of course and with such a diverse range of terrain and activities you really are spoilt for choice. From the Snowdonia Mountains in the North to the Cadair Idris range in the South there is every kind of mountain you could wish for! Snowdon itself, in the northern area of the park has always been a big draw, and being the highest mountain in Wales (and England) at 3,560ft it offers the most wonderful views from the summit. There are a number of paths up the mountain to choose from, or of course, and this would be my choice (!), you can take the train. The railway runs spring to autumn, weather permitting, and once up on the heights you can enjoy a cup of tea in Hafod Eryri – the visitors centre perched on the top of the mountain.
It’s not all about the mountains though and there are plenty of things to do which are not so weather dependent as climbing. There is world-class mountain biking, coast path walking and pony trekking to name a few and if you are still looking for even more high adrenaline activities the new Bounce Below (huge trampolines in slate caverns – more on this in the future) keeps you out of the elements.
With gardens and castles dotted throughout the landscape, museums and craft centres as well, the Snowdonia National Park is not short on visitor attractions. You could even indulge in a spot of shopping with delicious local produce to be found in delicatessens and farmers markets and varied craft pieces from pottery to slate to soft welsh woollen rugs – great for Christmas presents!
If Snowdonia sounds like your kind of place do take a look at the great range of properties we have throughout the National Park and the surrounding areas:
Northern Snowdonia, Lleyn Peninsula and Anglesey
Southern Snowdonia and Aberystwyth coast
Do give us a call and let us know what you want to see or do during your time here and we would be happy to advise you on the best specific location. Go on, challenge us!
An app for everything? Now the Welsh National Anthem has one!
I have talked before about my struggle to get to grips with the beautiful Welsh language but this week a conversation with my daughter really brought it home to me how far I have to go. She wanted me to play a game with her where we took it in turns testing each other on which colours and incidental words and phrases we know in Welsh. I had to resort to Google long before she started to struggle and, although I am pleased that she seems to have more of an aptitude for languages than I do, was a little embarrassed that my 4 year old knew more than me. I need to pull my socks up!
A great place to start would be the Welsh national anthem and the BBC reported on Thursday on a new app developed in conjunction with the National Library of Wales that aims to help people learn the anthem line by line. For a non-Welsh speaker like me it sounds just what I need in order to get the pronunciation and phrasing right. This innovative app also offers a beat counter and an option to learn harmonies. Along with a history of the hymn, pictures of original manuscripts are also included.
Hen Wlad fy Nhadau (Land of my Fathers) is always sung which such feeling and vigour and I do my best to lift my voice confidently when sung at church services, weddings and such (not rugby internationals I must say, but the issue of sporting allegiances in our household is a whole other matter!) but, when written down, the lyrics do look a little daunting. The first verse and chorus, along with my amalgamation of translations I have seen, are as follows:
“Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi, Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mâd,Tros ryddid gollasant eu gwaed.
Gwlad, Gwlad, pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad,Tra môr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau,O bydded i'r heniaith barhau.”
“The land of my fathers is dear to me,
Land of bards, singers; celebrities indeed
Her brave warriors, gallant patriots
For freedom their life’s blood gave.
Land, Land, true am I to my country,
While the sea secures our pure land,
O may our old language endure.”
There are quite a few different translations, but whether literal or in the spirit of the original poem, they all convey the pride and love the Welsh rightly feel for their country.
The lyrics and tune were composed by Evan James and James James (father and son respectively) in the mid C19th. The pair were from Pontypridd, in the South Wales Valleys, and their patriotic hymn soon grew in popularity throughout the country, was one of the first welsh language songs recorded to be played on a gramophone and was gradually adopted as the national anthem after it began to be sung by rugby fans around the turn of the C20th.
Hopefully the app will be as good as it promises to be and I will master the anthem before the next time I am required to sing it in public! Is there an anthem that is more likely to bring a patriotic tear to your eye? Have you ever had any embarrassing anthem moments? And if you decide to have a go using the app, I look forward to hearing how you got on!