This part of Wales really packs it in, from rugged mountain trails to coastal paths, old industrial sites and heritage train lines. The gem in this diadem is Snowdonia National Park, where the mightiest peaks south of Scotland scrape glowering skies. With such a formidable mountain shield, it's little wonder that the northwestern county of Gwynedd has held tightly to Cymraeg language and culture. More than 65% speak the ancient mother tongue here – the highest proportion in the country.
Along with the mountains there's the sea – battering the rocks at Braich-y-Pwll, producing surfer-friendly swells at Porth Neigwl and cooling the bathers at Barmouth. And all those bracing sea breezes seem to have blown much of the stuffiness or British reserve from the local populace. In many ways, this slice of the country distils the very essence of Welshness – just don't mention that to the folks in Cardiff!