So you fancy spending some time in North Wales, well where better to head than the Snowdonia National Park. Maybe you fancy a walk up Moel Siabod, Tryfan or Snowdon itself, or perhaps you prefer the nearby coastal scenery of Angelsey and the Lleyn Peninsula. Maybe you want to immerse yourself in some history by following in the footsteps of the pioneers of mountaineering or by visiting the castles of the Welsh Princes and Edward I. There is something for everyone!
But where to stay? With saving money on everyones mind camping has become a popular choice. But when you add up camping fees and the cost of all the kit is it really worth it? Without a doubt yes! Camping is extremely inexpensive and the equipment that you need doesn't need to cost the earth. More importantly those purchases you do make are an investment in future holidays and fun and will enable you to go away at the drop of a hat for minimal cost for years to come.
So what will you need?
: There are loads of options available but the key thing to remember is that you want your tent to still be upright in the morning. Wind regularly rips through valley bottoms as well as on the hills in Snowdonia at all times of the year and many campsites regularly witness tents flattened or mass exoduses in the middle of the night due to poor quality tents. We also recommend tents that are light in weight and low in bulk as this enables you to get away from it all and disapear into the hills for a real sense of freedom and free camping. Our recommendations that won't break the bank are the Vango Tempest 200 for only £99.99, this 2 person tent is sturdy yet lightweight and can be used for backpacking trips when the camping bug really hits home. Vangos Halo 200 and 300 offer even more ruggedness and more space but loose out on weight, but if you don't want to walk to far away from the road they are very good choices as well.
: Easter night time temperatures usually sit around the 5 to 8 degrees C in the valleys and about 2 degrees cooler at 300m. But be aware that sleeping bag ratings are notoriously unreliable. How warm you will feel also depends on you as a person (are you a cold or warm person) and also on how well you have fed and rested and how dry the clothes you may be sleeping in are. For most people we recommend the Sprayway Challenger 350 for only £34.40 as a bag giving a realistic comfortable nights sleep down to 3 degrees. When you lie on your sleeping bag you crush the fill beneath you so it doesn't trap any air to keep you warm so you need a mat to protect you from the cold ground and make things a bit more comfortable. The simplest and cheapest option is the Beacons Leisure Discovery closed cell foam mat at £11.98 but for extra warmth and comfort without breaking the bank the Trek Mates Contour Mummy self inflating mat at £38.75 is a great option.
: If you don't want to just eat sandwiches or spend all your cash in a pub you'll need a stove. Something simple and fairly sturdy will do the job and we like the Camping Gaz Twister Plus PZ for £16.54 which runs on Camping Gaz CV270 Butane/Propane Resealable Cartridges. Pans wise if you own pans that you don't mind using outdoors and that are suited to gas thats fine but a camping pan will be lighter and something like the Hi-Gear Leisure Non-stick Saucepan will cost only £8.21. If you want to do more than make a brew, rehydrate some food or heat a tin of beans then Vango cooksets offer very good value, e.g. Vango 2 person cookset for £19.32. Plastic plates and mugs save upsets with your best crockery and we have cutlery sets too.
: You will need a torch for pitching your tent when you arrive late, nipping to the loo in the night, walking to and from the pub on unlit roads and as a safety feature for hill use. All of these tasks are easier when your hands are free, so we recommend a headtorch like the Petzl Tikkina (£17.88) every time over a hand held alternative, although a special offer maglite for £9 might be a good idea for the kids or as a back up.
So as a bulk purchase you could be looking at as little as £172 for 1 person to go away camping as many times as you like and only £236.17 for a couple.
That should be plenty to get you started. So the cars packed and you are on route but where to stay?
Our favourite recommendations are:
Gwern Gof Uchaf
right at the foot of Tryfan Bach in the Ogwen Valley. This small site means you can walk straight from your tent up the peaks of the Glyderau or Carneddau including the famous North Ridge of Tryfan scramble. The once fairly basic facilities, (you can look at the view while you wash in the cold water) has been complemented by a shower block and washroom making this a favourite with everyone. £5 per person per night (spring 2011).
campsite is not right next to the pub unfortunately (its more like a mile away) but this top food and real ale pub is superb and the campsite is in a lovely setting at the end of Llyn Cwellyn near Rhyd Ddu at the southern foot of Snowdon and the Nantlle Ridge. £7-9 per person per night depending on day of week or bank holidays (spring 2011).
If you need to be next to a pub there are campsites in Nant Peris opposite the Vynol Arms at the foot of the Llanberis Pass, or behind the Bryn Tyrch pub in Capel Curig.
Eric Jones Cafe and Campsite
set at the foot of Tremadog cliffs is popular with climbers and those wanting to explore the Moelwyns and Moel Hebog. £4 per person per night (spring 2011) and right next door to an awesome Cafe.
There are stacks of other campsites in the area but these are our favourites and there are more conventional camping and caravan sites to boot but you will be doubling the price often and may not be right in the heart of it all..
We hope you find this helpful.
Have fun and happy camping.
BTW: Thanks for the hint Will