Gwern Gôf Isaf Farm is all about mountains – breathtaking, wild mountains, that tower above this traditional farm site nestled between the Tryfan and Capel Curig mountains in Snowdonia’s Ogwen valley. It was on this dramatic hillside that Sir John Hunt trained before leading the 1953 Everest expedition and, now owned by the 7th generation of the Williams family, Henry and Kirsty, it still welcomes experienced climbers looking to scramble to Tryfan’s 3,000-foot peak.
Behind Tryfan, the amazing Glyder Ridge and Carneddau mountain range offer more stunning scenic climbs; and on longer stays you might take the short drive to Pen-y-Pass, to tackle the biggest pile of them all, Snowdon (or, to be precise,Yr Wyddfa). Less ambitious campers can always make do with the moderate nine-mile walk along the old road between Capel Curig and Bethesda, or just a trip on the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
The campsite may have seen mountaineer legends pass by its door, but its awesome location allows everybody to get a taste. It’s as wild as you would expect – stray sheep, chickens and ducks share the garden; the facilities are basic; midges can be relentless and the ground can be hard. If planning to travel during wetter months, you might consider the bunkhouse, a compact and cosy bunker behind the farmhouse made of stone. Otherwise don your hardiest boots, grab your toughest mullet, and get among the mountains. Anyway, toughing it out is what this site is all about – if those famous rock-jocks before you could stand it, then why can’t you?
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Tents, hikers, groups, young groups, campervans – yes. Dogs – no.
50 pitches, washroom equipped with 5 WCs, 3 showers and washing-up sinks. 2 bunkhouses sleep 6 and 16, mattresses and pillows are provided – BYO sleeping bag and cooking utensils.
The Snowdon Mountain Railway (0844 493 8120) at Llanberis will take visitors to the summit in no time. Bodnant Garden, near Conwy, is one of the most beautiful gardens in Wales. If you’re a two-wheeler fan, get cycling: the campsite lies on the Sustrans mountain-bike route between Tryfan and Bangor. A couple of miles from the site, the National Mountain Centre, Plas y Brenin (01690 720214), runs short courses in canoeing, orienteering and climbing.
If it rains
Food & Drink
The café on Snowdon’s peak sells Welsh pies and Welsh Oggie pasties. Local specialities like mussels, black beef and salt marsh lamb are among many goodies on the menu at nearby Bistro Betws Y Coed (01690 710328). The Riverside Chocolate House, Pentrefoelas (01690 770296), is home to a tea room and shop.
The nearest pubs are in Bethesda, some 7 miles away, and 2 hotels just beyond Capel Curig in the other direction some 3½ miles from the site. The pick of them is the Cobdens Hotel (01690 720243) in Capel Curig, where they do their own beer and specialise in cooking the local wildlife, such as rabbits and lambs.
Tents £5 per person per night, campervans and caravans £12–£15 per night (kids 2–8 years half price, under-2s free). Bunkhouse £12 per person per night.
Train services to Bangor, then local bus to Capel Curig, directly past the site.