48 hours in Snowdonia (Gourmet Chick in Wales)

Lured by visions of unspoilt countryside, cosy pubs and of course delicious Welsh lamb, MTV boyfriend and I headed to Snowdonia in Wales for a long weekend. I was looking forward to some walks in the area and even cherished a secret ambition to climb Mount Snowdonia. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and driving rain that was horizontal for most of our visits meant a lot of time spent indoors drinking red wine and playing scrabble. Not the worst result in the world I suppose. Luckily, I had got a few recommendations beforehand from Tamarind and Thyme, @Ruth_dt and Chowhound as to the best places for eating and drinking. From a rainy 48 hours, here are my tips for Snowdonia:

The cake selection at Plas Derwen
1. Plas Derwen (Betws-y-Coed)
This modern little cafe sits on the main street in Betws-y-Coed and is a bright airy lunch pit stop. Service is on the haphazard side (particularly when we were overcharged on our bill) however the food is top notch with an emphasis on local produce. The menu is filled with lunch stalwarts such as chunky beef pies and quiche with goats cheese. The best deal is the sandwich with cream tea and a tea or coffee all for £8.50. There is no slumming it at Plas Derwen, the sandwich is made on fresh granary bread with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Included in the price is a scone with clotted cream and jam. To finish there is a pot of tea and a selection of cakes: dense, chocolate brownie, a cloud of meringue and
a piece of tart lemon drizzle cake.
Details: Holyhead road, Betws-y-coed, Wales (Ph 01690 710388)
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve.
2. Pete’s Eats (Llanberris)
Pete’s Eats is a local institution in Llanberris and is packed full of weary hikers looking for a cheap feed. You have to drink your water from a mug, pick up your own cutlery and sit at tables that are a little grubby. The pay off is a meal at bargain basement prices. Portions are huge however I can’t say that I was that impressed with my flaccid fish and chips while MTV boyfriends lasagna was soggy and dull. The rave reviews must have come from people who had done a little more walking than we had and so were more appreciative of a warm room and a hot meal.

Fish and chips at Pete’s Eats
Details: 40 High St, Llanberris, Wales (Ph 01286 870117)
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve.
3. Pen-y-Gwyrd (Nan Gwunant)
Eating at Pen-y-Gwyrd is like stepping back in time. This tiny little pub is where the 1953 Everest team based themselves for training and you can still see memorabilia from the trip, including Sir Edmund Hillary’s signature on the ceiling. Dinner is served at 7.30pm sharp and is announced by a gong. A four course meal is £28 and includes a choice of main and dessert. The emphasis is on good sense rather than high style but the food is delicious and the setting memorable. To begin, a hearty Spanish bean soup that was just the thing to warm you from the inside out.
Although the beef stew looked tempting neither MTV boyfriend or I could pass up the chance to sample the Welsh lamb. Juicy, thick slices of roast lamb were drizzled in a sharp blackcurrant sauce that brought out the sweet and young flavour of the meat. I am a great advocate of Australian lamb but I have to say that Icelandic lamb and Welsh lamb have really given me pause for thought. We were similarly enamoured with the dessert selection which encompassed almost every classic British pudding including a decent apple crumble and a tart rhubarb pie. However, the highlight of the meal was the cheese platter. There was a platter for each table with huge wedges of cheese all proudly Welsh including the famous Black Bomber cheddar. I was in cheese heaven and had to be forcibly dragged from the table.
The cheese platter (one of these between two people) at Pen-y-Gwyrd
Details: Nant Gwynant (near Llanberris), Wales (Ph 01286 870211)
Damage: Reasonable
Gourmet Traveller Tips
We stayed at Pen-y-Gwyrd which I would highly recommend because of the historical significance of the hotel (it is where the Everest team trained from) and the fact that nothing seems to have changed since that era. I was totally charmed by the old fashioned feel to the place, even the communal bathrooms with their ancient showers.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my post on 48 hours in Edinburgh.


  1. Betws-y-coed has many memories for me…beautiful on a hot sunny day, miserable if cold & wet, however still beautiful to watch the water falls. I have to say by the time we had climbed Snowdon the bad weather had set in & we ended up at the top…sitting in a cloud lol so no spectacular view! Food was great though!

  2. Whoah, that is a serious cheese platter. Were you expected to eat it all, or was it a “serve yourself a portion” style (a la France)? Your description of there being one for every table suggests it’s the former, which is scary.

  3. Lesley – That seems to be a common story for everyone who goes to Snowdonia – I think it must only be a couple of days a year that the beautiful views are visible.

    American in London – We thought it was French style and would be handed around the restaurant but no that was just for the two of us amazing. We do a rather good job of polishing most of it off as well!

  4. aha – black bomber cheese from the Snowdonia Cheese Company – Absolutely love it. And that’s quite possibly the biggest cheese plate Ive ever seen. Impressive!!!

  5. […] 48 Hours in Snowdonia (Plas Derwen, Pete’s Eats and Pen-y-Gwyrd). […]

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