Snowdonia holds some of the UK’s most beautiful and impressive scenery. The vast open spaces make it an ideal place to go wild camping. Be it for a multi-day hike, searching out wild swimming spots or just to have a night under the stars. In this wild camping Snowdonia guide, I will cover everything you need to know to get you started.
Check out my wild camping UK guide to understand the best practice and gear to take
Is wild camping in Snowdonia legal?
Technically, no, it is not. The only legal places you can wild camp in the UK are Dartmoor and Scotland.
However, it is tolerated and commonplace in Snowdonia. The Snowdonia National Park Authority accepts that wild camping on un-enclosed fell land, away from roads, is accepted if undertaken responsibly by small numbers of people.
So basically you need to make sure you are away from roads, not hoping any fences and aren’t doing this as part of a large group. And most importantly you must be following a strict policy of Leave No Trace (full leave no trace rules here).
How to choose a wild camping spot in Snowdonia
There is no shortage of wild camping Snowdonia spots. When I plan my adventures I will get out an OS map (see ‘resources’ heading below for details of the maps I use) and plot the hiking route and distance I want to cover first. I can then find rough areas (depending on distance) of where I might want to camp down for the night.
Using the map I’ll be looking for potential flat areas. These are shown using the contour lines. The closer the contour lines, the steeper the terrain.
I want the spot to be somewhere a good couple of km away from the nearest road. Avoiding boggy areas (marked by a marsh symbol on OS maps). Peaks aren’t good places to camp as you are very exposed to high rain. You also don’t want to be at the bottom of a ditch or somewhere that might flood if it rains.
It doesn’t matter if it’s too near a path (as long as you aren’t on a path) as these are quite hard to avoid in the National Parks.
The other consideration is water. I’ll be looking for a running water source nearby where I can collect water for cooking that night and to get me going the next morning.
I’ll usually then have 2 to 4 potential spots marked on my map to explore when I get there.
Tarns (small mountain lakes) often offer perfect camping spots. Note though in the summer period the best spots can get busy so you might not have the lake to yourself!
Places to wild camp in Snowdonia
Here are a few wild camping Snowdonia spots that I’ve used or planned before. Some of them are well known. I’d suggest using these as a guideline. See what they look like on a map and then use that knowledge to find your own spots elsewhere:
- Cwm Eigiau on the eastern side of Carnedd Llewelyn
- Llyn Edno
- Cwm Clogwyn (good spot for those wanting to climb Snowdon)
- Llyn yr Adar (great spot but can be popular in high season)
- Summit of Mpe; Ysgyfarnogod (it’s not suggested to camp high if you are expecting strong winds)
- Cwm Caseg tarn (last time I camped here I had a great display from the mountain rescue helicopter doing drills nearby!)
- Cader Idris (no shortage of flat spots near the summit)
- North of Carnedd Dafydd summit
Getting to Snowdonia
Although it might initially seem easier to travel by car to Snowdonia, the increase in road traffic is causing damage to the area. I’d encourage you to take a more environmentally friendly option and to take public transport. Not only is it more eco but it also adds to the sense of adventure – there’s something quite ‘Famous Five’ about the old school public transport options in North Wales!
There are 2 main train stations in Snowdonia: Betws-y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog. Sherpa Bus service offers transport from the stations to some of the more popular hiking spots. From there it should be easy to set off and start your adventure.
Parking in Snowdonia
Snowdonia receives over half a million visitors a year – a lot of them during the sunny weather periods. On a good weather weekend, most foothill car parks will be full by 6.30/7am. Unless you plan to set off at 5am, you’ll want to look at using the park and ride Sherpa Bus service.
It’s also worth noting that most of the main car parks have a maximum 24hour stay. If you push this you will return to a ticket but could also potentially cause an unnecessary mountain rescue search as it might be assumed you have got lost in the mountains!
Where to base yourself in Snowdonia
If you want to have a base before or after your wild camp I’d suggest using one of the following places. These are also great places to pick up last minute camping gear or food supplies.
- Blaenau Ffestiniog – mining town which can be accessed by train. Suggested accommodation: Pisgah Guesthouse (£60)
- Llanberis – has some good attractions including slate mine tours and a lakeside railway. Suggested accommodation: Glyn Peris Guesthouse (£75)
- Betws-y coed – busy town with lots of restaurants, hotels and camping supply shops. Can also be accessed by train. Suggested accommodation: Waterloo Hotel (£110) or The Eagles Bunkhouse (£30)
Resources for wild camping in Snowdonia
If you are planning a wild camping Snowdonia trip, I can suggest getting your hands on the following. Note for OS maps there are 3 needed to cover the entire National Park. Depending on what areas you plan to cover you may not need them all:
- OS Snowdonia Map OL17 (map covering north Snowdonia)
- OS Snowdonia Map OL18 (map covering middle Snowdonia)
- OS Snowdonia Map OL23 (map covering south Snowdonia)
- Nature of Snowdonia (really great book with easy to digest knowledge on the flora, fauna, and wildlife in Snowdonia – small so is easy to carry)
- Hiking in Snowdonia (40 hiking suggestions)
- Britain’s Best Small Hill’s (a great all-around wild camping guide for suggestions across the UK on where to sleep wild for a night)
For reliable weather forecasts check out the:
A few top tips
- Most visitors flock to hike Snowdon so if you are after a quieter experience stay away from this mountain
- Always tell someone where you are planning to go and what time you plan to be back
- It’s very important that you understand and follow the leave no trace protocol. This includes not lighting any fires, removing all rubbish with you off the mountain and following toilet etiquette. For more details check out Wild Camping UK
- The weather can change drastically in Snowdonia. Make sure you check the forecast before leaving and have a way to monitor the forecast during your adventure
- Snowdonia has some big crags and tough rocky climbs. If you are planning to hike it’s worthy checking routes and difficulty levels in advance to make sure it’s within your remit
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