Locally known as Pesda, Bethesda is a former slate quarrying village located in Gwynedd, North Wales. It is on the doorstep of the dramatic Nant Ffrancon Pass, Ogwen Falls and offers some of the best mountain scenery in North Wales.
Bethesda offers a rich experience to anyone who cares to come to this vibrant village with plenty of activities to do and places to visit.
How to Get to Bethesda
Bethesda is quite accessible, for a village. You can access the location by car from the main A5 London to Holyhead road. It is about six miles south of Bangor.
You can also use public transport. You can board a bus from Llanrwst to Bangor, or you can come by train. The closest rail station is Bangor.
The town of Bethesda grew as a result of the Bethesda Chapel, which was built in 1823 and then rebuilt in 1840.
There was a lot of slate mining in the area, with the largest of the local quarries being the Penrhyn Quarry. This quarry was also involved in the three-year strike of 1990 to 1993, which is considered the longest industrial dispute in British History. At the height of slate mining, the town was known for exporting purple slate worldwide.
Things To Do in Bethesda, Wales
Bethesda has plenty to offer the curious mind and is surrounded by exceptional places that provide even more activities and places to see. Some of the must-see places in Bethesda are:
At the peak of slate mining in the 19th century, the Penrhyn Slate Quarry was the largest slate quarry globally. Its central pit is nearly one mile long and over 1,200 feet deep. There were over 3,000 quarrymen working in the mine. It has since been superseded in size by slate quarries in China, Spain and the USA but is still quite a sight to behold.
In 2013, Zip World Penrhyn Quarry was opened. Since opening, it has attracted a huge amount of interest. It has the world’s fastest zip line that soars over the Penrhyn Quarry as you travel at speeds of over 100mph. In addition to the neck-breaking speeds, you also get a chance to enjoy the breathtaking views and feel the freedom of flight.
The Penrhyn Castle is the Pennant Family’s former home, which owned sugar plantations from the middle of the seventeenth century in Jamaica. The family became established merchants in Liverpool.
The castle was re-built by the famous architect Thomas Hopper. He was known for his ability to perfect any architectural style. For the Penrhyn Castle, he went for a neo-Normal design. Originally, it was a medieval fortified manor house that was founded by Ednyfed Fychan. The building was rebuilt between 1822 and 1837 and is extensively transformed from what it originally looked like.
National Slate Museum
Being home to the largest slate mine in the world in the 19th century, it’s only fair that Bethesda is also home to the National Slate Museum in Llanberis. The museum houses the Industrial Victorian Workshops that once serviced and maintained the enormous mines.
It has various attractions that paint a vivid picture of how slate mining was at its peak. The attractions in the museum include an introductory film with a daily slate splitting demonstration and a giant waterwheel. Not just any water wheel but the largest of its kind in mainland Britain. There are also some great houses, including the Chief Engineer’s House and the Quarrymen’s Houses.
Llanberis Lake Railway
Take a ride in a vintage steam engine along the shores of Llyn Padarn. The trip offers exceptional views of Snowdon from viewpoints you can’t access by road.
The trip starts as Gilfach Ddu and takes you past the 13th century, Dolbadarn Castle. The train also goes through Padarn Country Park and joins the 1845 slate railway route funning along the shores of Llyn Padarn to the highest peak in England and wales.
The railway trip is the quickest way to take in some of the best views in Bethesda and the wider Northern Wales in comfort. There’s also a gift shop and café you can visit if you’re feeling hungry or need to buy some memorabilia.
The Menai Strait is estimated to be 8000 to 9000 years old. It was formed after a high tide separated the Isle of Anglesey from mainland Wales. Over the years, the water level in the strait has risen, covering the land that once existed. While in Bethesda, you can enjoy this 16-mile long and 180m wide freak of nature and the Menai Suspension Bridge.
Your visit to Bethesda offers plenty of unique benefits and sights. You will also find great restaurants, pubs and different accommodation options not very far from your preferred attractions.