The Vaguely Alternative List of Things to Do in Llanberis, Wales

Having grown up nearby on the Isle of Anglesey, Llanberis is my absolute favourite place in the world. When I have mates from Liverpool visiting, I always bring them to here.

Situated at the foot of Mount Snowdon, Llanberis boasts the highest point in Wales (obvs). At any given time the summit is chokkers with tourists, where they’ll admire this cracking view:

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…unless it’s foggy and wet, in which case they’ll have wasted four hours.

You can catch a heritage steam train up for a hefty £37, and I’m not being funny, but it’s a bit of a cop-out unless you’re old or disabled. However there’s no guarantees you’ll nab a seat even if you’re old, as this elderly man found out when the train was too full of fat people.

Another little titbit: in 2011 a man was jailed for driving his 4×4 up the mountain in gale force winds not once, but twice.

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This Tweet from back in August gave me a right chuckle as well, after a helicopter burst into flames on the summit:

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Anyway, back to it.

I feel for all these tourists, because there’s so much more to Llanberis than a big rock. So, to make life easier for those of you visiting Wales, I’ve compiled a selection of my favourite and vaguely alternative things to do in Llanberis.

My boyfriend had never been to Llanberis, so our recent visit began at legendary greasy spoon Pete’s Eats.

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Pete’s is always packed full of travellers, all of whom look like they deserve a 2000 calorie breakfast. We, on the other hand, did not.

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With our bellies full, it was time to do some exercise. Maybe.

Go on – show me an English high street with better views.

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But first, we popped in to The Snowdon Honey Farm & Winery. It’s run by a lovely old Welsh couple who let us sample various alcoholic concoctions, fuelling us for our mission to the waterfall.

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Having visited Llanberis countless times, I decided this was the day I would finally find the waterfall. I failed, again – even by following the ‘waterfall’ signs – and ended up walking along the train track instead (not advisable).

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Down at the lake i.e. Llyn Padarn, you can hire a row boat for about 6 quid, or take the Llanberis Lake Railway around it. You can even get in the water for a kayaking lesson, among other water sports.

If you want to experience a mountain without having to actually climb one, you can take a bus deep inside the Electric Mountain, which my mum assures me is brilliant and cracking value at £8.50 per adult.

There are plenty of things to do for free in Llanberis, too, my favourite being feeding the ducks.

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I’m smiling but I’m actually quite scared.

Walking to the other side of the lake you’ll pass my favourite spot, Dolbadarn Castle. I camped and got steaming drunk here last summer, and it’s the best place to watch the sunset from.

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Once you’ve hit the other side of the lake, there’s a cluster of attractions to keep you occupied. The National Slate Museum is actually better than it sounds, whilst the Quarry Hospital Museum is also interesting, housing some of the original equipment from the 1800s (I like to play dead in the mortuary).

Another of my favourite spots is the Vivian Dive Centre, best visited at sunset when you have the entire hidden lake to yourself. The water is so blue it looks like a tropical lagoon. It’s worth noting that although anyone is free to enter, this lake is bloody deep so don’t be doing anything stupid like jumping in (although cliff diving is popular).

Right next to the dive centre is this spot:

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Climb right to the top of the tracks and you’ll find spectacular views from the Dinorwic Quarray and buildings and machinery from bygone days.

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Look closely and running alongside the road, next to the reservoir, you’ll spot a dragon cave.

Though not to everyone’s taste, I’ve saved my favourite ’til last. Located up in another quarry on the outskirts of Llanberis, near the Siemens factory, is an abandoned WW2 bomb store. It took us three attempts to find the place, which involves crawling through fences and various downright dangerous misdemeanours. It’s one of my most beloved spots.

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There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, including the interior, made possible be whoever keeps forcing the door open with an angle grinder (cheers). It isn’t for the faint-hearted: take torches, because you won’t see a hand in front of your face otherwise.

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Image by Nick Catford

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Of course, this adventure technically involves trespassing. However, local kids and urban explorers have been visiting for years. If you’d rather let someone else do the dirty work, you’ll find plenty of reports and photos here.

I would recommend staying a couple of days in Llanberis, maybe at the hostel above Pete’s Eats or The Heights bunkhouse, which is a great spot to chill with a beer after a long day.

The main thing I would say is to explore. Ignore all the advice I’ve just given you and do your own thing. Follow your nose, and you’ll find the lush picnicking spots Trip Advisor won’t tell you about.

What are your favourite things to do in Llanberis? Have I missed anything out? And most importantly, have you found the secret lake? Let me know in the comment section!

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Urban exploration in Lancashire

Today was a little less remarkable compared to other explores, but interesting nonetheless. First up was a garden centre near Phill’s house, abandoned in 2013:

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According to the Warrington Guardian, the 66 year old bipolar co-owner attacked his business partner during a psychotic episode, choking him before attempting to topple a statue on top of him – before abducting the manageress. Because of his age the courts decided not to whack him in prison. DRAMA.

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The place appeared to have been abandoned around Christmas time, with broken decorations scattered about.

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The manager’s house was on-site, but we didn’t get many photos in the darkness; here’s a record of someone else’s visit. Phill showed me a photo from a previous visit which quite clearly shows a human silhouette and proper gave me the heebie jeebies.

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According to Phill, the place had deteriorated a lot since that previous visit; copper piping  ripped out, no  fish left in the pond. I found this video of it in a previous life.

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Next we found a bar-hotel which had only been abandoned a year or two. We had a good explore around the exterior, but climbing up the fire escape we seemed to trigger a motion sensor and had to scarper.

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Next, Phill wanted to check out this cottage along his daily commute he’d been keeping an eye on it for several months. We didn’t attempt to get inside. Isn’t it pretty even in this condition?

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Another location he’d previously visited was Daresbury Hall, a former Georgian country house in the home village of Lewis Carroll. During the second world war it was used as a military hospital, and then by a charity (now known as Scope) as a residential home for the handicapped.

It had recently been ruined in a fire (STOP BURNING STUFF, FUCKWITS), so here are photos from his previous visit:

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We didn’t spend much time at the hospital, which had two security guards’ offices attached. We didn’t even see security guards, never mind have to outrun them!

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Inside the hospital were the remains of a £750,000 cannabis farm, complete with police tape and evidence bags.

On the hospital grounds, a huge home had been semi-built on the sly by the dealers. According to Phill, the previous security guard had been in on the farm and alerted the family to a raid, who were able to slip out and never identified.

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It was too dark in there to bother taking many pictures, but believe us that no expense had been spared. Sauna… Dressing room… Marble… Elevated beds to make the most of countryside views…

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Here are pics Phill took on a previous visit:

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Hopping over fences on our way back to the car, we unexpectedly came across a series of miniature train tracks:

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I would love to hear about your adventures in the comment section. In the meantime, you can follow our adventures on Phill’s Instagram.

Another Wednesday, another explore

Plan A was a convent in Lancashire, which had been knocked down by the time we got there and replaced with fancy houses that stood empty because nobody could afford them.

Plan B was St Joseph’s seminary down the road. Opened in 1883, its grounds boast a large greenhouse, cemetery and gorgeous lake.

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The building itself is riddled with cameras and alarms, and we staked it out for a long time.

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Can you spot the guard?

There appeared to only be one security guard…

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We crept up on him. Notice how he’s no longer in his chair. He’d somehow managed to creep up on us – literally about 25 ft away – without even spotting us. Amazing.

Eventually we just risked it and walking right past the cameras. Still nothing. All previous entries had been boarded up. It’s such a stunning building and we were desperate to get inside, but my climbing skills weren’t up to scratch. Here’s a report from someone who did make it in.

From then on, we were on the lookout for some TOADS (Temporary, Obsolete, Abandoned and Derelict Spaces).

We found an abandoned cottage near the car and went to investigate. The view was phenomenal and I got the obligatory corn field shot.

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I even saw my first swede field! A swede, growing out of the ground! Day = made.

We scrambled across the overgrown garden to have a gander through the windows. What we saw was mostly furnished, which is my favourite kind of discovery. At first we wondered whether it was actually abandoned. Maybe someone just really hated gardening? No photos exist of the back garden, but the brambles were taller than us.

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An adorable old lady came to greet us, excited at the porspect of someone finally moving in. She explained how many people had stopped to ask about the cottage over the years, which had once been owned by an old man with a “strange son” who died approximately 20 years ago.

Onwards!

On our way to an abandoned garden centre or Camelot we passed an abandoned mansion. Searching for a parking place, we were distracted by a high-walled bridge, and on peeking over the edge on our tippy-toas because we’re both short stuff, spotted an abandoned mill.

Upon further inspection it appeared impossible to reach, so we embarked on a mission to find an alternative route.

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After half an hour’s clambering through plants taller than us and plenty of brambles (just for a change), as well as completing other obstacles, we were there. The mill looked beautiful alongside the river.

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Although the door was wide open, our guards were up in case we encountered squatters. A poster suggested the place had been out of action for around a decade.

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There was roll upon roll of herbal supplement stickers unravelling all over the floor, leading us to gather that the place had most recently been used as a factory.

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We’re pretty sure we were the first people to rediscover this place. Although some buildings had suffered the general deterioration that occurs with lack of central heating and whatnot, there was no vandalism or graffiti and even the copper pipes remained intact. Exploring always gives me the heebie jeebies, so it was easier to relax knowing there was no security or anyone else here.

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We found a pair of overalls and a cute woolly jumper on our travels…

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We sat up here, listening to the river and watching the rain for a long time.

Then we found a dead pigeon.

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We figured that this path was to keep visitors out of harm’s way.

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This was labelled the printing room and had yet more stickers.

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*Someone* couldn’t resist giving the fire extinguishers a go.

Although it was a brilliant find, despite the brambles, trying to find a way in is often the best part. Not so much out though. What I learned: it’s really scary climbing over a spiky fence that is alarmingly close to your vagina.

Back at the car it was getting dark, but we decided to quickly check out the abandoned mansion which we’d all but forgotten about. Unfortunately the phone had died we didn’t get photos.

On a huge plot of land, there was a winding driveway with an overgrown garden which was probably gorgeous way back when. The home’s architecture gave the place an Addams Family vibe.

Inside was  little disappointing, having suffered extensive fire damage and vandalism. Most of the floors had collapsed.

However, some period features remained including arched windows, stone pillars and a carved staircase. What made the visit worthwhile, though, was a huge antique fireplace adorned with a carving depicting a ship at sea. Such a tragedy that only a cartoon enjoying a biffter was there to appreciate it full time.

Images by Phill Gaffney.