Wales. It's like a whole other country. No, wait - it is a whole other country. At least, the Welsh like to think of themselves as a separate entity, though they have no autonomous federal government and are not recognized as independent by the United Nations or the European Union. In Wales (or "Cymru" as the locals call it), however, they do speak a different language (the oldest living language in Europe, it says here, and whoa is it weird); sport their own football team; and, most importantly, boast their own unique culture.
Naturally, tourism is the number one industry in this quarter of Great Britain, the greenery nice enticement particularly for those wishing to escape dreary old London. And who knew of the wonder of miles and miles of coastline? One jewel in the Welsh crown is Snowdonia National Park (or "Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri"), a perfect example of how nature works in the "Big Country."
Snowdonia is the second-largest of England and Wales' national parks and just marked its fifty-year anniversary in 2001. Located in northwest Wales, Snowdonia encompasses some eight hundred twenty-three square miles' worth of countryside; not quite twenty-seven thousand denizens inhabit the area, working lush farms dotting the rolling hillsides. No wonder Snowdonia is so often chosen or those craving isolation, peace and quiet. For those forsaking flats or suburban homes for a week in favor of cottages, Snowdonia is your destination.
Even better than amenities like cottages, Snowdonia's status as a national park was recently augmented with the bestowing of National Park Awards. The awards commemorated excellence exhibited in supporting Snowdonia locally in terms of high design quality and sustainability. Whereas the reputation of national parks worldwide is colored with the idea that improvement social or economic are impossible, Snowdonia denizens take pride in its look, feel and atmosphere; the red (or perhaps green) carpet is rolled out to the tune of ten million visitor-hours per annum.
Thanks to local environmental consciousness, the great features of Snowdonia remain great: fishing, hunting, bicycling, equestrian sport and hiking facilities are nearly as unspoiled as they ever have been. Indeed, visitors are habitually briefed on strict guidelines regarding the preservation of land and the life inhabiting it. The walking of dogs in farm and some wildlife areas is particularly frowned upon, since sheep are so important to Welsh industry (Wales is in fact one of a dozen nations that shows a higher population of sheep than human beings). In contrast, public footpaths, bridleways and permissive paths are everywhere in Snowdonia, their use at the discretion of the land's private owners. Too numerous to list here, a list of local authority-approved and - licensed campsites can be garnered at the National Park Authority.
And as always, remember to check in on local weather conditions before participating in that outdoor sport. Weather in Wales isn't highly variable, but precipitation happens. No matter: You could stay inside for weeks and never tire of those Snowdonia views.