Going Igam Ogam

Head off-piste into the mountains and there are lots of intriguing ways to explore North Wales off the beaten track. Go igam igam (zig-zag) and create your own custom-built road-trip.

The A5 gateway

Capel Curig, Snowdonia

Capel Curig, Snowdonia

 by Wales On View

As an alternative gateway to North Wales, the A5 does the job nicely. It crosses the border near Chirk Castle, heads up through Llangollen (take the Horseshoe Pass road for a scenic diversion), and on to Snowdonia. The stretch after Capel Curig through the Ogwen Valley is one of our best roads, cutting between the Carneddau and Glyderau ranges, which includes the knife-edge spine of British climbers’ favourite peak, Tryfan.

Vale of Clwyd

Berwyn Station, River Dee

Berwyn Station, River Dee

 by Wales On View

Starting just inland from Prestatyn, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty stretches south as far as the Berwyn Mountains. There’s a chain of heather-clad peaks crowned with hillforts, dotted with medieval towns like Rhuddlan, Ruthin and Denbigh.

A lap of Snowdon

An image of a bridge and stream running through Beddgelert

Beddgelert, Gwynedd

For a tour of Snowdonia's highest peaks, there’s a spectacular circuit from Bangor to Capel Curig, across to Beddgelert, up to Caernarfon and back to Bangor. This forms a 50-mile (80km) square that’s bisected by the Llanberis Pass, where the Pen-y-Pass car park is the most popular starting-point for a walk up Snowdon.

The Menai Strait

Ynys Llanddwyn wrth iddi fachlud
Ynys Llanddwyn, Ynys Môn

There are two bridges onto Anglesey: you can cross on Thomas Telford’s 1826 original masterpiece, or the slightly more modern Britannia alternative. The latter is quicker, and has better views of the former (and of the Swellies whirlpools below). Either way, it’s worth diverting along the Menai Strait to visit gems like Beaumaris Castle, Llanddwyn Island, and that small town with the very long name which all Welsh people are obliged to recite on request.

The Anglesey coast

Looking out to sea towards the South Stack Lighthouse on Anglesey
South Stack Lighthouse, Anglesey by Joseph Noble

A circular­ tour of our largest island is around 75 miles (120km) on the main roads – that’s a pleasant half-day excursion. If you walk on the Coastal Path you’re looking at 12 days to cover the 130 miles (200km). Highlights include South Stack lighthouse and cliffs, sea arches at Rhoscolyn, dunes at Aberffraw, the Cemlyn nature reserve, and dozens of beaches.