I hesitate to use the phrase ‘hidden gem’ very often to describe places, mostly because I feel like it’s become somewhat of a buzzword in the travel blogging community to describe places that are somehow better than their less hidden counterparts, but also because, on a planet with 7 billion people and travel so accessible to a higher-than-ever-before proportion of us, is anything actually hidden anymore?
That being said, I found a hidden gem in Wales.
But we did see a place we never found on any Top Things In Wales lists and our B&B host, who has lived in Wales his entire life, had never even heard of, so perhaps that’s about as close to “hidden” as it gets these days. Regardless, we were blown away by the beauty and tranquility we found there, so I’m going to use today’s post to tell you all about it. Or more accurately, show it to you. Because this is definitely one of those places that a hundred words from my mouth (keyboard?) could never convince you to visit as easily as a picture. So without further adieu, allow me to present one of our favorite spots in Snowdonia National Park, Cregennan Lakes.
Cregennan Lakes are located just outside of a town called Arthog in southern Snowdonia. (Someone added a ‘W’ in front of that on a road sign we passed on our way to the lakes and, mature adult that I am, I got the giggles every time I thought about it for the next 2-3 hours.) The lakes are on the northern side of Cader Idris, a mountain we had planned to hike while we were in Snowdonia, but had to strike off the to-do list due to bad weather. (Cwm Idwal was a perfect replacement, though!) Even though we didn’t have time for a hike, on our last day in Wales after we packed up the car for our drive back to London, we drove down south so we could at least see this part of the national park before we left, and I’m so glad we did because it was just as beautiful as where we’d been staying up north!
Cregennan Lakes were easily my favorite place we stopped in this area. One look at the green hillsides and the gorgeous lake in front of us and I immediately thought, best spot ever for a picnic! The scenery is just unreal here. Like, old-school photography studio backdrop unreal. (Seriously, though. Isn’t that exactly what it looks like in the pictures with us in them? Ha!) The two lakes here are managed by the National Trust, and fishing is allowed if you purchase a permit from the farmhouse by the bigger lake. Since we had neither fishing poles nor a picnic lunch, we headed straight to the hill beside the lake and raced each other to the top.
What a view we had from up here! It was a quick, easy climb to the top and then voilà – hello beautiful scenery in every direction! It was like walking in a painting. Besides the surrounding hills and a wider view of the larger of the Cregennan Lakes below, we also had one magnificent, unblocked view of Barmouth Bridge and the Mawddach Estuary unfolding before us. Water always calls to me like the Pied Piper and I wanted to keep walking until we reached it, but unfortunately we could only make a quick stop here before getting back on the road for the long journey home.
We spent less than an hour at Cregennan Lakes and still this remains one of the most memorable parts of our vacation in Wales for me. Nothing makes me happier when we travel than finding a peaceful, quiet spot to relax and take pictures. And no place we visited in Snowdonia fits that description better than Cregennan Lakes. A perfect end to another perfect trip.
If you’d like to visit this little gem in Wales, too, it’s fairly easy to find if you know where you’re going. Google Maps location here. You’ll have to open and close a couple gates on the road in, which originally made us think we were in the wrong spot and driving onto someone’s private property, but no – if you see the gates, you’re headed in the right direction. There is a free car park next to the bigger of the two lakes. For info about fishing in either of the two lakes, check out the official website for fees. Picnics and hill-running are optional, but totally free. :)
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