Updated: Jul 8, 2019
By now, most of you will be aware of our year-long quest to discover the best in Dog Friendly. We've scoured the UK for places that not only accept our beloved pups but welcome them with open paws. We've picked twelve of the most dog friendly locations and featured them in the UK's first ever 'Dog Friendly Calendar'.
If you've already got a copy then you'll know that we are doing a follow-up blog for each month. January features Wales with quaint cottages and cabins from Red Dragon Holidays, warming homemade food from Pantri and scenic views aboard the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways. Don't worry if you haven't got a copy of the calendar yet, they are still on sale on the website - PLUS there's an exclusive discount for Red Dragon Holidays included! You can purchase yours here.
Without further ado, join us as we take Wilbur & Paisley across the border over into Dog Friendly Wales...
We arrived on a blustery, chilly February afternoon. After a long journey, our bellies were rumbling and the warmth of the Pantri invited us in. Located in picturesque Llanberis, this lovely tearoom is just a few steps away from one of the Snowdon paths so it's the perfect place to reward yourself after an exhausting climb. In fact, The Pantri shares its premises with The Outdoor Shop so it's the perfect place to get all of your climbing gear from too. As we arrived on such a windy day, we decided it was best to attempt it another day...
Dogs are welcome on the shop side of the café and, of course, outside (if you visit when it's warm enough!) There's plenty of options on the menu ranging from homemade cakes to heartwarming soups and regularly changing specials. Everyone's welcome here as they cater to vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs - and the dogs are catered for too, with a free biscuit on arrival!
We opted for the Soup & a Sandwich, which has now become a firm favourite menu choice with us. You can pick any of their sandwiches to go alongside a large or small portion of the soup of the day - ours was mouthwatering mushroom.
There's a variety of drinks on offer too: including fresh coffee, hot chocolate and a wide array of teas. If you fancy trying something local, they have Welsh ciders and ales as well as wine - perfect if you want something a bit stiffer. You might need it if you've just come back from Snowdon! This delightful café is perfect for a stop-off if you're local, attempting Snowdon or just visiting - and you can bring back a souvenir as they sell lots of lovely things inside the café including handmade soap. They are open most days and sometimes for evening meals too - but do make sure to check their opening times before you go.
After a lovely lunch, we decided to take a little ramble around the local area before checking in to our holiday home. Along our walk we stumbled upon a beautiful 13th Century castle, which we later discovered to be Dolbadarn Castle. Dogs are welcome as long as they're on a lead. Sadly, they weren't open when we visited but we hope to visit again in the future.
With our bellies full and our legs stretched, we retreated to our home for the weekend - Red Dragon Holidays. Just a 20 minute drive away from Llanberis, this lovely holiday retreat is set amongst beautiful Welsh mountains and woodlands.
This self-catering accommodation has lots of great options for you to choose from including cottages, camping pods and log cabins. So whether you're on a budget or fancy a luxury woodland retreat, then Red Dragon Holidays has something for you.
We stayed in Tryfan, one of their stone cottages, and were welcomed with a bottle of wine, loaf of freshly baked bread and some chocolates - a lovely touch. The cottage sleeps up to four and comes complete with a microwave, electric cooker, freeview TV, DVD player and all the other essentials. If you really want to adopt the countryside life, there's a fireplace with a log burner to warm up by and plenty of board games to entertain you on those cold nights. WiFi is available at a small extra cost per stay which is definitely worth it as, let's face it, you're not going to get any signal in the middle of the Welsh mountains!
If you fancy more of a hiking style holiday, then the Camping Pods are for you. You have all of the basics as well as access to a bathroom block, kitchenette and communal area. Dogs are welcome in all properties at a small charge depending on which one you are staying in. We met quite a few at the site who seemed to be enjoying their adventures as much as Wilbur & Paisley were!
After enjoying a glass of wine from our hamper and a board game by the fire, we went to bed ready for a day filled with adventures...
As our attraction was scheduled for the following day, we had a day free to do with what we wanted. After coming across Padarn Country Park when visiting the Pantri, we decided to venture there for the day.
With 800 acres to explore, this park has some of the most beautiful scenery in North Wales. There are lots of things to do and see in this amazing park including visiting the Quarry Hospital, National Slate Museum and Llanberis Lake Railway. Having said that, just taking one of their many walking routes is an adventure in itself - so many sights to see including stunning scenery of Wales, lakes, slate and resident sheep! Just make sure to pick and stick to a route though or you'll end up in the dark (both literally and figuratively) like we did. No data + no route = disaster! Fortunately, we made it back to the car just before the sun set...
Sunday morning, we arrived at Porthmadog station (sadly the suffix is not "dog" as we had hoped - and were pronouncing it!) All ready to board the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways. Just a short 20 minute drive from Red Dragon Holidays, you can park up at the station and get a return ticket for a round trip.
There are lots of different routes you can take but we decided on Beddgelert - home to the legend of the faithful hound with the same name. Dogs are welcome on board all of the trains in 3rd Class for a small fee. Believe us, it's worth it!
As it was early morning and we were still tired from our trek at the country park the day before, we grabbed a coffee on board. They have a wide selection of things on the menu including hot drinks, cakes, sweets and even Welsh beer.
The journey from Porthmadog to Beddgelert takes about 35 minutes and it just flies by! Watch out the window as the stunning scenery passes you by - beautiful sights of the Welsh mountains, countryside and coastlines all aboard a classic steam engine. It truly is magical. The pups loved it too - in fact, Paisley enjoyed it so much that she was pawing at the window to jump in the passing lakes!
A short while later we arrived at Beddgelert, a picturesque little town with a river running through it. Walk across the bridge and there are stunning views of the mountains, lots of paths for you to walk down and the dogs can have a little dip in the river.
You can also find Gelert's Grave down there. If you don't already know about the legend of Gelert then the story goes like this... Prince Llewellyn went out hunting one day without his faithful hound, Gelert, who was unaccountably missing. Later that day, he returned home to find his son's cot empty and covered in blood - along with the truant. Fearing the worst, he plunged his sword into Gelert's side. His faithful hound's dying yelp was met with a cry from his infant son. After searching frantically, he discovered his boy unharmed with the body of a wolf nearby that Gelert had killed to protect his son. The prince, filled with remorse, is said never to have smiled again. You can read about this heartbreaking story in more detail here.
Of course, it is a legend so nobody can say for sure if it's true. Some say it was made up by a local landlord who wanted to bring more trade to the town. Needless to say, we hope it isn't true but it definitely has succeeded in making this village a tourist hotspot and very popular with dog walkers.
After a lovely walk, a dip in the river and a bit of sunshine - we went in search of somewhere to eat. We couldn't have found anywhere more dog friendly in Beddgelert than the Saracens Head. Great food (with lots of vegetarian options too), local beers and cider. Plus they even had a doggy menu!
Of course, we had to order something for the pups so we chose the Bow-Wow Chicken. As you can see, it looks good enough for us to eat - and it certainly went down a treat!
After we'd exhausted Beddgelert, it was time to hop back on board the train and return to the cottage for the evening. It wasn't until later in the year I found out that I had actually already been on it once before when I was a baby!
Monday morning - the mildest of our stay and our last day in Wales. Today was the day - we were going to attempt Snowdon. Funnily enough, it was also the day that Radio 1 DJ Greg James climbed it - though we didn't know that at the time. Kitted out with our warm clothes and hiking boots, we set off up the Llanberis path...
There are several paths to choose from all differing in distance, difficulty and terrain. We opted for the Llanberis Path as it was the most gradual - and as it's so close to the Pantri we thought we could pop in for a bite afterwards! No matter which path you take, always come with the right gear and be prepared to turn around if it gets too difficult or dangerous. You can find more advice here.
Ensure that your dog is fit enough to cope with the climb and that you've got enough water and anything else that they may need with you. Typically, being two fit young Jack Russells, Wilbur and Paisley were dragging us up most of the way!
If you are taking your dog with you then make sure you keep them on the lead at all times - not only for their safety on rough terrain but also for the safety of others including grazing sheep.
There are pit stops halfway up and at the summit but do make sure to check before going as they are only open seasonally. We actually reached the halfway point when were advised by a ranger to stop and turn back as it was so icy and potentially dangerous. We decided to take his advice and return another time, not before taking a photo first though...
After a long and cold descent, we were welcomed in to the Snowdon Café with open arms. Situated just metres from the start of the path, stepping into this lovely little tea room feels as though you're walking in to a completely different country (well, I guess you are). The inviting smell of homemade stew, roaring fire and Welsh dialect was just what we needed. The staff were attentive and caring and quick to get Wilbur and Paisley a treat and a blanket for them to lie by the fire on. They even told us that if we wanted to visit Snowdon another time when the Snowdon Mountain Railway was running that they would happily look after the dogs. The train runs all the way to the summit but sadly, pups are not allowed on it. If you'd like to visit but don't fancy (or can't do) the climb, they're more than happy to look after your dog.
We treated ourselves to a warm pot of coffee and also tried some traditional Welsh cakes. Not something we've ever tried before and, well, we think we deserved it - don't you?! Topped with jam and cream, they were absolutely stunning - almost like a Welsh cream tea (though I'm sure the locals wouldn't like us saying that!)
After we warmed up, we were ready to head back to Llanberis. The owner told of us a much more scenic woodland track we could walk along. It was just behind the tearoom and a great place to let the pups off the lead so they could have a run around.
Thank you for taking the time to read all about our trip to Wales. This was our first ever time over the border and it has become one of our new favourite places to go. It truly is beautiful, very dog friendly and even though it's so close to home it really does feel like a whole different country to England - and it is! If you've haven't been already then we urge you to go.
If you visit any of our recommendations then please do share your photos with us on Facebook, we love seeing them. Don't forget, our 'Dog Friendly UK' Calendar 2019 is still available to purchase here and you can get your paws on an exclusive discount from Red Dragon Holidays too.
We'll be back next month with a blog all about our Dog Friendly trip to Scotland! Love, nose licks & waggy tails,
From the WildPaws team x Travelling to Snowdonia without your dog? Check out this fantastic blog from the guys at Cultured Kiwi for more tips on things to do!