Favourite Locations: Snowdonia
In the “Favourite Locations” articles we will be asking photographers to tell us about a particular location that they simply love to photograph.
It might be a small, local site that only a few people know about, or a huge expanse that requires some expert knowledge to get the best out of. It doesn’t matter whether it’s within walking distance or a day’s plane flight away; it’s all about the location, location, location.
Here, Royston Wake tells us about some of his favourite places in Snowdonia, North Wales.
I’m inclined to think it unlikely that anyone reading this won’t know, but for those that don’t, Snowdonia (or Eryri as it is known in Welsh) is a mountainous area in North Wales that is a National Park and an incredibly beautiful part of the United Kingdom. It covers quite an expansive area, so it might be helpful if I narrow down my selection to my favourite area of Snowdonia – the north west, or more specifically, the Snowdon Horseshoe, Tryfan and the Glyders.
Situated on the west coast of Britain covering 823 square miles of diverse landscapes, Snowdonia National Park is a living working area, home to over 26,000 people. As well as being the largest National Park in Wales, Snowdonia boasts the highest mountain in England and Wales, and the largest natural lake in Wales, as well as a wealth of picturesque villages like Betws y Coed and Beddgelert. Snowdonia is an area steeped in culture and local history, where more than half its population speak Welsh.
Snowdonia attracts thousands of visitors each year who enjoy its amazing landscapes and the wealth of outdoor activities on offer. The National Park Authority’s aims are to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area; promote opportunities to understand and enjoy its special qualities; and to foster the economic and social wellbeing of its communities.
The village of Capel Curig lies in the heart of the north of Snowdonia national Park and is the gateway to both the Snowdon Massif via Pen-y-Pass, and Tryfan and the Glyders via the A5 to Llyn Ogwen. Capel Curig is also home to the UK National Mountain Centre at Plas y Brenin.
Capel Curig is, according to statistics, the wettest place in the UK, so be prepared that any visit to Snowdonia has a high chance of being rained on. Beyond that, it’s difficult to think of a bad time to go – if you can avoid the downpours. My best shots have come about when the weather has been really good – I’ve had a few lucky trips when the sun has shone and the skies have been bright – but Snowdonia in the snow is a sight to behold if you are hardy enough and well equipped to brave the conditions.
Snowdon itself can be extremely busy when the weather is good and during the tourist season. Unless you are particularly out to reach the summit, its train-serviced visitor centre makes the very top of Snowdon more like a crowded town centre than the highest point in England and Wales and best avoided. Tryfan and the Glyders tend to be less populated, but you will still need to plan for other walkers and climbers getting in your shot, particularly during summer months.
Snowdonia can turn the most inexperienced photographer into a landscape maestro – it’s just an incredibly beautiful area. The vast, rugged mountains and the long, sweeping lakes are a perfect combination, with the latter reflecting the former when conditions are right and a flat, mirror-like surface prevails.
However, it’s my love of black and white landscape photography that draws me to the Snowdon, Tryfan and the Glyders. There are times on these mountains when you could be in a monochrome world, particularly the boulder strewn summit of Tryfan where, on a grey day, there may be very little colour to be seen anywhere. But far from being a dull and desolate place, the textures and shapes in the rocks and the form of the mountains themselves make them a perfect subject for black and white photography. Many people have bemoaned the over use of black and white in landscape photography, complaining that, as we live in a multi-colour world, we should photograph it in the same way. However, it is exactly this everyday exposure to the over saturated, gaudy technicolour of modern life that, for me at least, gives black and white its appeal, and nowhere do I find it more appealing than in the shadow of Snowdonia’s mountains.
Do you have a particular location you’d like to share with fellow photographers? Do you know a special spot that is so beautiful makes it almost impossible to take bad photos? Have you stumbled off the beaten path and found a landscape that others should know about?
If so, we’d love you to write a Favourite Location article for the WEX Blog! Simply write to us telling us what the location is, where it can be found, when people should visit and why it’s one of your favourite places, plus include any of your own photos that show the location at its best.
We’re hoping to publish one of these a month, so get thinking, shooting and writing and send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.