Go for a wander and splash along the river
The Colwyn and Glaslyn rivers meet at Beddgelert and chug merrily through the village. We walked a little way along a well marked path and crossed the Glaslyn on a footbridge next to the tracks of the Welsh Highland Railway. For the next mile or so the bank shelved really gently into the river. It was like a succession of sandy coves. We cooled our feet in the clear chilly water and munched sandwiches. After lunch we hopped from rock to rock and inevitably got wet. Joe and I tried skimming stones across the sparkling water.
Ride the steam train and walk back
The little trains of the Welsh Highland Railway chuff their way through the valley stopping at Beddgelert. You hear whistles and see plumes of smoke from all sorts of places. You can travel as far as Caernarfon on the north coast and Porthmadog on the west. But we chose to go just to the next station up the line at Rhyd Ddu. The views as we puffed up the valley were spectacular. Mighty Snowdon rose to our right complete with its crown of snow on top. From Rhyd Ddu there's an easy four mile walk back along trails through the forest. You start with a brisk stroll across a long boardwalk over Llyn-y-Gadair lake. We stopped for a picnic beside a gurgling stream deep in the pine woods. All the way back we could hear the sounds of the trains puffing their way up and down the tracks.
Explore the old copper mine
A 20 minute walk or 5 minute drive up the Glaslyn river valley brings you to the Sygun Copper mine. Copper was mined in these valleys as far back as Roman times. We picked up hard hats at reception and headed into a dark network of caves and corridors. The tour is self guided and at times you feel quite lost in the darkness. At different points a light illuminates a tableau showing life-like models of miners working with hand tools in the low light. Some of the chambers are much larger with spiky stalactites and stalagmites. We came out higher up the hillside which was a complete surprise. You don't realise you're climbing so much.
Learn an epic Welsh legend
Beddgelert means 'Gelert's grave' and we took an easy stroll along the river to find the grave. Gelert wasn't a person though. He was a faithful hound. Left to watch over a baby, fearless Gelert fought off and killed a huge wolf, getting covered in blood in the process. His master Llewelyn, returned and seeing his baby son no longer where he'd left him and the dog covered in blood assumed Gelert had killed him. Overcome with grief Llewelyn killed the dog only to find the lifeless corpse of the wolf and the baby alive and well nearby. Filled with remorse Llewelyn buried Gelert here. Gelert's grave is marked by a tree with flowers at its base. A little further we came to a sculpture of the brave dog. Joe put his arms around its neck - it was all rather poignant.
Pull on your walking boots and head up the hillside
There are walks of all difficulties fanning out from Beddgelert. For older kids who are starting to enjoy walking, the five mile circular walk up to Bwlch y Sygun and back along the Glaslyn river is ideal. You start close to placid Llyn Dinas. We skimmed a few stones on the lake's glassy surface, then climbed up, turning back to take in vast views of mountains and lakes. An hour later we crested a summit high above Beddgelert. We could see plumes of smoke from the little trains of the Welsh Highland Railway far below. The trail continued down a valley past old copper mining works where you could see some of the old winding gear. The final section back along the river was great fun. We splashed in the shallows and cooled our feet.
Relax in the sun outside a traditional pub
After a day exploring the spectacularly scenic countryside around Beddgelert what could be better than a cool pint (or a coke for the kids!) sat in the late afternoon sun outside a traditional old pub? There are a couple in the village to choose from. We liked the Prince Llewelyn which does no nonsense pub food and a good kids' menu. We also had a tasty meal at the family run Glaslyn pizzeria and ice cream shop - munching on thin crust pizza steaming hot from the oven. One thing to note is that particularly outside peak season, places stop serving food quite early. So once the sun has slipped down behind Moel Hebog casting all manner of lovely shadows over the river, sup up your pint and get your order in quick!