Wales’ new UNESCO World Heritage Site

We enter August with some fantastic news for British tourism published recently by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; we are happy to welcome the 33rd UNESCO World Heritage Site in the United Kingdom – this time in North Wales!

Roman Baths, Bath, England
Roman Baths, Bath, England

During the 44th annual session, The World Heritage Committee has made a few changes to the World Heritage Site List affecting British constituents. Despite the deletion of Liverpool’s Maritime Mercantile City from the list, the City of Bath has been rewarded with a double inscription thanks to its thermae waters; this English regency destination is now included in The Great Spa Towns of Europe, comprising 11 towns in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany and Italy. The biggest news for the UK however, was an addition of a new cultural site to the World Heritage Site List – the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales.

This region has been added after 15 years of endeavours, meeting not one but two criteria; combining nature with works of humankind and demonstrating not only a substantial period for human history, but also the interchange of technology, materials and human values in progress of the region and contribution to the world. Joining over 1150 UNESCO sites, including the Egyptian Pyramid Fields, The Great Wall of China and the American Mesa Verde, The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales became the 4th UNESCO Site to be found in Wales alongside Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Blaenavon Industrial Landscape and Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd, bringing a great prestige and recognition for Wales.

Slate Landscape, Wales
the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales
Slate Landscape, North Wales 2
the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales

The vast majority of this landscape is situated in the biggest National Park in Wales, Snowdonia, however The Slate Landscape stretches for over 200 miles north to south. Consisting of six locations totalling to 3,259 ha, the mountainous terrain used for slate quarrying and mining was transformed over the decades of the Industrial Revolution, converting it from an agricultural landscape into a semi-industrial one. The unique slate landscapes are characterised by green mountain-sides and hilltops with patches of great greyness – exposed slate – creating a unique geometrical scenery surrounded by colourful lands of flora and wildlife. The breath-taking views combined with a plethora of quarries and mines, many little towns, settlements and ports all connected by developed rail and road systems, makes the mysterious Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales rich culturally, archaeologically and historically.

As we love travelling, let’s go on a mini-journey through the region!

Starting from furthest north, the first part stretches from Port Penrhyn harbour, through the town of Bethesda and nearby Penrhyn Slate Quarry, to the Dyffryn Ogwen valley. Alongside rich mining heritage, there are multiple tourist attractions, including Penrhyn Bay Beach or even Europe’s fastest and longest zip line at Zip World Penrhyn Quarry.

Dinorwig Slate Quarry, North Wales

The second spot is the biggest of all six. Going south there is Dinorwig Slate Quarry with Llyn Peris and Llyn Padarn lakes that reflect slate mountains landscape. Here, in addition to an impressive view and the colossal site with the quarry, you can find Welsh National Slate Museum in Llanberis with archives, photos, original machines and many memorabilia from Dinorwig’s best days.

The third and furthest west location is Nantlle Valley Slate Quarry Landscape. Area of complex archaeological history with spectacular Dorothea Quarry, one of the last operating in Wales Pen yr Orsedd Quarry or settlements on Cilgwyn Mountain. Visit Nantlle Village and Railway with historic dose about this magnificent landscape.

Moving to beautiful and peaceful green valleys and rocky mountains, we reach Gorseddau and Prince of Wales Slate Quarries, Railways and Mill. Here, beside gorgeous views, we can notice some great architectural remains showing the adaptation to the terrain. Nearby Penrhyn Castle with fairy-tale gardens is a historical gem worth-visiting.

Ffestiniog Railway, Snowdonia, North Wales

The fifth location is an old slate mining town of Ffestiniog, known as “the city of slates”. Clinging to the side of the steep of grey mountains, it once provided with huge volumes of slate from its Mines and Quarries. With Railway to Porthmadog, it was a great connection and solution for slate trade. Now, the steam train is still in use for visitors with spectacular views for Snowdonia.

The furthest south location is also the smallest one. Within 93 ha there is Bryneglwys Slate Quarry once with several mills and incredible underground workings to Tywyn, located over 50 miles from Bryneglwys; the Abergynolwyn Village with Y Ganolfan village community centre and Quarryman’s Trail in Nant Gwernol woodland; and the Talyllyn Railway, an inspiration for famous “Thomas the Tank Engine” books and tv series.

Trust me, there is more! A wealth of natural, cultural and other sites waiting to be discovered! From our team at adeo Travel, we would like to join international congratulations and thank everyone working towards that prestigious title. Visiting The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales will be even more special and remarkable than before!

Please do not hesitate to contact us, if you would like to visit this, or any other, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Wales, Scotland or England.

Magdalena Glen

August 5, 2021

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