November 20th, 2018
Wales is famous for many things – but it’s beautiful valleys have been the stuff of songs and rhymes for centuries. Join us as we explore one of our country’s most awesome features – the beautiful valleys of Wales.
Our glorious country is packed full of natural features – ranging from woodlands to cliffs to beaches and lakes to waterfalls. But surely one of the most spectacular geological features of our landscape are the beautiful valleys that carve their way through the countryside. Wales is home to many valleys – some are small and go unnoticed, whilst others are huge defining features of the countryside, like the Conwy Valley and the Wye Valley.
A valley is defined as a low and often narrow region between mountain ranges, usually with a river or stream running along the valley floor. This means that valleys usually lead towards an outlet for the water – another river, lake or an estuary to the sea.
Valleys are one of the most common geological features on the planet, and are present in every country around the world, but frequency doesn’t make them any less beautiful. Some of the most famous views in the world look out over stunning valleys – like the Douro Valley in Portugal, Yosemite Valley in California and Khumbu Valley in Nepal.
The striking features that make valleys were formed many millions of years ago, and valleys come in different shapes – some are “v” shaped, some are “u” shaped and some are flat-floored. “V” shaped and flat-floored valleys were formed over many millions of years as the river water gradually wears down the rock and soil beneath to form the valley shape. Flat-floored valleys are considered much more mature than newer “v” shaped valleys as over time the water makes the valley floor wider and wider. “U” shaped valleys however were fashioned relatively quickly during the glaciation process in the last ice age. The steep and straight sides and flat floor were formed when enormous glaciers travelled through the mountains, gouging out a path as they went.
And valleys aren’t just pretty to look at either. They have been occupied by humans since the beginning of our development. Valleys provide shelter, from invasion and from the weather, and also being close to a river provide a vital source of food and easy movement.
Here are some of our favourite local valleys to explore:
- Cwm Idwal – one of the most photographed scenes of Snowdonia, beautiful Cwm Idwal is in the Glyderau range of mountains in northern Snowdonia.
- Dyffryn Ogwen – a long deep valley that is bordered on one side by the Glyderau and the other by the Carneddau. The River Ogwen flows through it.
- Nant Gwynant – a wide Snowdonia valley that runs from near the Pen y Gwyryd, down through the hills to Beddgelert, following the the Nant Cynnyd, the Afon Glaslyn and alongside Llyn Gwynant, then beside the Nant Gwynant river to Llyn Dinas.
- Nantlle Valley – one of the most important local valleys for slate quarrying.
- The Vale of Ffestiniog – home to us here at the Oakeley Arms! It stretches from Blaenau Ffestiniog in the east and runs in a westerly direction towards Tremadog Bay to Porthmadog. The Afon Dwyryd runs through the Vale.