The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - JACK EVANS

THERE are few places to drive in that are quite as mes­meris­ing as Snow­do­nia. Brimmed with cloud-graz­ing moun­tains, awe-in­spir­ing lakes and a wide va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent colours, it’s also home to some of the best roads the UK has to of­fer.

One of the key routes that winds its way through the Snow­do­nia Na­tional Park is the his­toric A5. Cre­ated by Thomas Telford and com­pleted in 1826, it was built in re­sponse to the Act of Union 1800, which high­lighted the need for bet­ter trans­port links be­tween London and Dublin fol­low­ing the uni­fi­ca­tion of Great Bri­tain and Ire­land.

We’d be join­ing it at its most northerly point in Ban­gor and fol­low­ing it south un­til Oswestry – far be­yond the Snow­do­nia bor­ders.

Right from the off, the route stag­gers in its abil­ity to de­liver breath­tak­ing views cor­ner af­ter cor­ner.

Leav­ing the out­skirts of Ban­gor and trav­el­ling through Bethesda, the road quickly opens up as you travel to­wards Pen-y-Ben­glog.

It’s as the A5 get twistier that it’s worth men­tion­ing our car of choice for this par­tic­u­lar trip – the Porsche 911 GTS.

Claimed to be the ‘sweet spot’ in the range, our car is a rear-wheel-drive, man­ual ver­sion - and is there­fore ide­ally suited to the sweep­ing bends and sharp hair­pins that you of­ten find on the A5.

From Pen-y-Ben­glog, the scenery con­tin­ues to get bet­ter. Steep cliffs frame the route ei­ther side as you snake to­wards Capel Curig, with the large Llyn Og­wen lake prov­ing a per­fect stop­ping point. In truth, you’ll prob­a­bly want to stop at every op­por­tu­nity – keep your cam­eras at the ready.

One place worth stop­ping at is the Ugly House. Ac­cord­ing to leg­end, it was cre­ated in the 15th Cen­tury, un­der a tra­di­tion at the time that de­creed that if a house could be built overnight and have smoke com­ing from the chim­ney by dawn, then the builders could claim it as their own. It’s now a pop­u­lar tea­room and one that sits right by the side of the A5, making it an ideal stopover point.

Back in the car, and we’re on the way once more. The next ma­jor town is Betws-y-Coed, and it’s here where we make a small de­tour away from the A5.

The B5106 darts north, and you can take this up to Llan­r­wst be­fore fall­ing south once more on the B5427 and re­join­ing the A5 at Pen­tre­foe­las via the B5113.

In truth, this is hardly the route you’d want to take to make quick progress, but the B5113 treads the very edge of Snow­do­nia Na­tional Park, with its spaghetti-thin road quite the chal­lenge to drive. Just make sure you take your time – herds of sheep lie ei­ther side of the car­riage­way, while the chang­ing weather con­di­tions can prove haz­ardous.

Snow­do­nia is one of the UK’s most beau­ti­ful places. Stag­ger­ingly im­pres­sive moun­tains, take-your-breath-away lakes and dra­matic weather all com­bine to make an un­for­get­table land­scape. How­ever, as we’ve found out, there’s some­thing for the keen driver too – just watch out for the sheep!

The Porsche 911 GTS, which can rocket from zero to 62mph in 4.1 sec­onds, made the jour­ney through Snow­do­nia of­ten feel like a walk in the park

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