David Burrows discovers there's more to the national park than just climbing Wales's highest mountain.
With the Snowdonia National Park practically being on our doorstep, it's hardly surprising that so many of us Shropshire folk pop there of a sunny weekend to take in the spectacular scenery and maybe climb a mountain or two.
But its proximity means many of us simply jump in the car at the end of the day and head back home. And this is a pity.
Because there is so much to do in Snowdonia that it also makes an ideal getaway for a weekend or even longer – with the advantage that most of the trip isn't spent travelling to and from your destination.
After a friend of mine revealed he had never walked up Snowdon – practically a right of passage if you're from around these parts – I decided that would be the perfect opportunity to spend a little longer in the glorious countryside and see what else could be done aside from a bit of rambling.
It didn't take much of a trawl on the internet to find accommodation that looked interesting enough – Cadair View Lodge has log cabins set on the mountainside at Bronaber, near Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd. To put it another way – on the doorstep of the well-known Coed y Brenin mountain biking trails.
Cadair View offers short breaks from just one night and allows you to start your break on whichever day you so chose. It is also open most of the year. Pets are allowed in some cabins and their useful website also lists a host of nearby activities and places to eat.
Should you not wish to venture out (let's be honest – it's not always sunny and warm in Snowdonia) there are kitchens for you to whip up your own culinary feast.
We arrived on a Monday planning to walk up Snowdon – about an hour's drive away from the cabins – the following day. As we pulled up quite early we were keen for something to do.
Our original plan was to muck about at the giant obstacle course that is Go Ape in Coed y Brenin. However our plan to climb and zipline in the shadow of the mountains was scuppered by the small fact that it wasn't open on a Monday.
An alternative plan was hatched which would still fulfil the adrenaline-rush side of things thanks to a company called Go Below. These guys also do climbing and ziplining – but in an abandoned mine.
This has the added advantage of making the adventure weather-proof and as such, Go Below is open practically all year round.
So we met our guide Miles at the Conwy Falls Cafe and, after a safety briefing and instructions on harness and helmet wearing, we were bundled into the back of a Land Rover and driven to the mine. A short walk later and we were inside.
The whole adventure lasts about half a day and involved boating across water in the darkness, abseiling, ziplines and climbing a waterfall.
It is not for people who don't like getting wet! Group sizes are kept small to allow more activities to be fitted in and it is incredibly good fun.
Then it was back to the cabin with its stunning views of the mountains to shower and enjoy a beer before going in search of food.
We didn't have to search far. Just up the road is the wonderful Rhiw Goch Inn. This spacious pub features a bar, lounge and large dining area with a wide choice which is bound to have something for even the fussiest eater.
On the day we were there, there was the choice of three different roasts. I can confirm that they, washed down with local ale, were the perfect way to end the day.
The following day we set off early for Snowdon and were blessed with glorious weather as we headed up the less trodden Ranger Path. After conquering the mountain and heading back, we were finally able to make the most of our accommodation.
Our lodge – Ty Coed – included satellite TV (for catching up on the news, obviously) a CD player, good sized living room, two bedrooms and a small but well-equipped kitchen. So, after a bit of relaxing I whipped up a curry for the evening meal.
And that's when the lodge came into its own. With glorious weather and Snowdonia as the backdrop it was perfect for al fresco dining on the decking – where we remained as the beer flowed.
Unfortunately I was staying there with a big, hairy friend. The cabins are ideal for walkers and bikers - but also present the perfect setting for a nice, nearby, romantic getaway too.
All too soon it was time to head back to Shropshire – but with the beauty of knowing it would be a relatively short journey. I'll certainly think twice before just popping to Snowdonia for the day next time.
Dave stayed at Cadair View Lodge near Trawsfynydd. The owners have many offers so do not take bookings online. As a rough guide, for 2011 the price of a two nights stay in a two-bed cabin is £250 if there are more than two people in the party, or £220 for a couple. For details visit www.cadairviewlodge.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01978 759603.
Go Ape adventures cost £30 for adults or £20 for 10-17 year olds. Visit goape.co.uk/sites/coed-y-brenin
Go Below adventures cost £40 per person. Visit www.go-below.co.uk