Camping, Bushcraft & Survival

Camping In Snowdonia | An Essential Guide To Sleeping Outside In North Wales

Useful information on Snowdonia's campsites, wild camping, and glamping options

Snowdonia National Park – or Eryri in Welsh – covers a total of 823 square miles; a richly varied landscape of craggy mountains, tumbling rivers, cascading falls, verdant valleys and pristine lakes. The park has so much to offer, and there is no better way to truly soak up this unique landscape than to pack a tent and pitch up in a quiet and secluded spot.

“There is no better way to truly soak up this unique landscape than to pack a tent and pitch up in a quiet and secluded spot”

When it comes to camping in Snowdonia, there are plenty of options. The first is to book into one of the region’s many campsites. We’ve selected some of our favourites, which are generally ‘low impact’ sites that steer well clear of hard standing and electric hook-ups designed for caravans and motorhomes in favour of a more tranquil and natural outdoor experience.

Credit: Chris Johnson

However, for those looking for a little more luxury, we’ve also highlighted a few ‘glamping’ options, which gives you the chance to experience a memorable and unusual stay in Snowdonia. You could spend the night in a cosy yurt or camping pod, for example, complete with wood-fired hot tub and fire pit.

Of course, if you want to be even more adventurous, you could go wild camping. If you’re new to this, it might be a daunting task to plan and prepare for your first night in the great outdoors. To help, we’ve highlighted some factors to consider, before highlighting some of our favourite areas of the national park. These offer great places to pitch up for the night and enjoy some mega mountain views.

Remember that wild camping in Snowdonia is not officially permitted without the landowner’s permission, although many people do wild camp within the national park without experiencing any issues. Basically, if you want to pitch your tent you need be comfortable with the fact that you are trespassing. If you do get asked to move on, respect the landowners’ rights and move off their land quickly.

Credit: Chris Johnson

Leave No Trace

As with any wild camp, it’s important to follow the principles of leave no trace. This basically means that when you break camp in the morning, no one should be able to tell you were ever there. The seven key principles of leave no trace are:

1) Plan ahead and prepare

Research suitable spots to pitch up before you head out, so that you can be reasonably certain your chosen site won’t already be busy. Arrive late and leave early. Pack the right kit and arm yourself with the skills and knowledge to ensure you’re prepared for poor weather, hazards and emergencies. Planning ahead also means considering factors like repackaging your food to ensure you don’t have loads of rubbish to carry out.

2) Travel and camp on durable surfaces

Don’t pitch your tent on sensitive or delicate flora, or camp in places where you’re likely to disturb habitats and wildlife. Choose a camping spot that isn’t already suffering from erosion or evidence of previous use. The idea is that once you’ve packed away your tent, you shouldn’t see anything that looks unnatural beyond a small patch of slightly flattened grass.

3) Dispose of waste properly
This one’s simple: pack it in, pack it out. In other words, if you brought it, take it with you. This includes all rubbish and food waste: banana skins, orange peel, the lot. If nature calls, take a trowel to dig a hole at least 15cm deep and more than 30m away from any water. Bury your poo and carry used toilet roll out with you in a sturdy ziplock bag. If washing yourself or your camping pots and pans, use a collapsible bucket to carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. This avoids polluting water sources.

Credit: Getty Images

4) Minimize campfire impacts

The easiest way to minimise campfire impacts is not to light one in the first place. Realistically, if you’re wild camping in the UK, you don’t need a campfire. The smoke will attract attention, and if you’re high in the mountains of Snowdonia, there isn’t going to be adequate fuel anyway. Instead, take a compact and lightweight backpacking stove to enjoy a hearty camp meal and a hot brew in the morning.

5) Leave what you find

As the old travel saying has it, ‘take only pictures, leave only footprints’. There’s no need to take that summit rock as a souvenir. Similarly, you don’t need to balance a load of pebbles on top of each other for the sake of an Instagram shot.

6) Respect wildlife

In the mountains of Snowdonia, you might spot ravens, falcons, hares and even some of the area’s resident population of mountain goats. Enjoy observing such wildlife, but don’t disturb them, feed them, follow them or disturb their habitats. Be particularly conscious of mating and nesting seasons.

7) Be considerate of other visitors

Respect other users of the national park. Remember that Snowdonia is not just a holiday destination, it’s also a living, working landscape. So, camp away from busy trails, don’t make lots of noise or play loud music, and take the smallest tent you can get away with, ideally in neutral tones. The idea is not to be seen by others and not to be a blight on the landscape.

Credit: Chris Johnson

Great Wild Camping Areas In Snowdonia

One of the best ways to experience Snowdonia is to plan a long, multi-day mountain walk with a wild camp or two along the way. Some of the best upland areas to plan an adventure like this include:

1) Glyderau

The Glyderau range has some of the most incredible scenery of any of Snowdonia’s mountains. The area around the craggy peaks of Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr is a lunar landscape of boulder-strewn ground and shattered, jagged rock formations. It’s a great place to bivvy, though not such an easy spot to pitch a tent. However, the eastern peaks and particularly the mountain lake of Llyn Caseg Fraith are far more forgiving. Though the ground here can be a little boggy, there are plenty of grassy patches that offer spectacular views out over the mighty Tryfan.

2) Carneddau

Boasting 19 peaks over 600m in height, the Carneddau range is the highest area of upland ground in the UK outside Scotland. It is often quieter than its neighbour the Glyderau, which makes it an ideal area to pitch a tent and enjoy a night of comparative solitude. It has a wild feel, and ponies roam free across the range. Wherever you plan on heading there’s bound to be somewhere to pitch, but popular options include the shores of Llyn Dulyn or Melynllyn reservoir. If the weather is settled and skies are clear, the summits at the northern end of the range have spectacular views all the way out across the Menai Strait to Anglesey.

Pictured: Wild camping on Glyder range in winter. Credit: Getty Images

3) Rhinogydd

The rugged and remote Rhinogydd are an oft-neglected part of the national park. These heather-clad mountains are about as wild as Snowdonia gets, so if it is splendid isolation that you crave, then head for these hills. The most popular place to pitch is at Llyn Du at the foot of Rhinog Fawr, which has an easy walk-in from Cwm Bychan up the Roman Steps, an ancient packhorse trail. But if you head farther north, towards Moel Ysgyfarnogod, you are far more likely to have the hills to yourself and there are plenty of little mountain lakes that make ideal wild camp spots.

If you’re not quite brave enough to wild camp, then there’s a great ‘nearly wild’ campsite at Cwm Bychan. Little more than a field, this basic campsite doesn’t have any facilities, but does have plenty of parking and an array of fire circles, so if you bring your own firewood, you can enjoy a blazing campfire in the evening. There are no toilets or running water, but a river runs alongside the field so you can collect water to filter or boil here.

4) Cadair Idris

While most people flock to Snowdon and the surrounding area, Southern Snowdonia should not be overlooked. After all, it is home to the spectacular Cadair Idris, whose peak, Penygader, is just a shade under 3,000ft. The landscape here is just as impressive as that of northern Snowdonia too, with glacial lakes, rugged summits and plunging gorges. Be careful if camping though: legend has it that anyone who spends the night on Cadair Idris alone will wake up either a mad man or a poet. Llyn Cau is an Insta-worthy glacial lake in the shadow of the summit, an ideal place to pitch a tent and capture some seriously epic shots. Alternatively, Llyn y Gadair, at the foot of the mountain’s northern slopes, is a similarly picturesque place to spend the night.

5) Moelwynion

Another of Snowdonia’s less trodden mountain ranges is the Moelwynion. The peaks here include the striking Cnicht, dubbed the ‘Welsh Matterhorn’, as well as the two sisters of Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach, both mountains steeped in Snowdonia’s slate-mining history. The walk-in to Cnicht from the tiny hamlet of Croesor passes a lovely little llyn (lake), or you could even pitch up near some of the disused quarry buildings. The Ordnance Survey map also reveals the existence of a small cave – really, just a snug rock shelter, which makes for a memorable bivvy that, at a push, can accommodate two.

Pictured: Afon near Beddgelert

Snowdonia Campsites

If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and camp wild, then there are a whole host of campsites to choose from.

Llyn Gwynant campsite

This is a picturesque place to pitch, right on the lake shore. It has ample facilities including a toilet and shower block, camp shop, laundry room and washing up area. Campfires are allowed in the fire pits provided, and wood can be purchased on-site. It’s an ideal base for exploring northern Snowdonia, while the nearby pubs and cafes of Beddgelert are a great option if you don’t fancy cooking over the campfire.

For more information on the Lyn Gwynant campsite

Hafod Y Llan

This National Trust-owned campsite is located in the stunning Nant Gwynant valley. The basic facilities stretch to a small toilet and shower block, but it’s perfectly placed for climbing Snowdon via the Watkin Path. A river runs along the campsite, and fires are also allowed, making it a lovely place to pitch.

For more information on camping at Hafod Y Llan

Graig Wen

Located in the south-west corner of the National Park this is a gem of a campsite set within 45 acres of woodland and meadows, boasting incredible views out over the Mawddach Estuary. There are touring pitches, glamping yurts, a shepherd’s hut and some spectacular, secluded tent-only pitches. Campfires are permitted, while facilities include shower and toilet blocks and a camp shop stocking essentials and local ales.

For more information on camping at Graig Wen

Tan Aeldroch farm 

This basic campsite is located a few miles along the River Lledr from Betws-y-Coed, on a working sheep farm. There are a couple of flushing toilets and a standpipe (no showers here), but you can fire pits are provided and it is well located for exploring lots of the park.

For more information on camping at Tan Aeldroch Farm

Pictured: A glamping yurt in Snowdonia, Wales

Glamping Options In Snowdonia

Hideaway in the Hills

This small family business is located between Harlech and Barmouth and offers glamping with hot tubs, camping with campfires, camping pods and even use of the family’s Canadian canoe on a small private lake. Nestled in the Rhinogydd, there is a spectacular backdrop whichever accommodation option you choose, with wild and rugged walking straight from the campsite, and beautiful beaches a short drive away.

For more information on Hideaway In The Hills

Glamping in Llanberis

As well as basic camping, this site has four luxury yurts, Eilio, Elidir, Glyder and Wyddfa. Based on a working hill farm, you get amazing views of Snowdon’s north west face and the surrounding mountains from the wooden deck outside the yurts. The site is ideally located for the Llanberis path up Snowdon, and the amenities of Llanberis are just half a mile away.

For more on information on glamping in Llanberis

Affordable accommodation In Snowdonia

Maentwrog Bunkhouse

This cosy bunkhouse is set on the friendly Jones family’s working sheep and cattle farm. The newly renovated farm building is the perfect base for exploring Snowdonia without worrying about drying out tents or windy nights on the hills, and will easily accommodate a family of four, a group of friends or solo backpackers. It comes with a fully equipped kitchen/dining area and modern shower room. It’s located just outside of the pretty village of Maentwrog, which has two popular pubs and plenty of lovely local walks right from the doorstep.


For more information on Maentwrog Bunkhouse

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