Bang a gong: Swimming, walking and friendship at the heart of Snowdonia

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A weekend in Snowdonia isn’t long enough to enjoy everything that this stunning region has to offer, but at least it gave us a flavour of what swimmers and walkers can enjoy even if it was only for a couple of days.

We stayed at the world-famous Pen Y Gwryd hotel tucked away near the base of Mount Snowdon. Thanks to friends who were celebrating a significant birthday this year, our 20-strong group had the run of the place, from the wood paneled residents bar where generations of climbers have scrawled their signatures on the ceiling, to the dining room where supper is announced by an old-school gong at the foot of the main stairway.

For swimmers, the real attraction is the pond tucked away behind the main building. Fed by a waterfall and with views up to the Glyder Ridge it’s the perfect place to refresh after a hectic days walking and scrambling.

Visiting at the beginning of May meant that the water was a pleasant 10 degrees. There’s even a bijou sauna pond-side that will take four people at a squeeze, although make sure you ask the hotel staff to switch it on for half an hour to warm up properly before you enter.

From Wales to workshop

At the end of our stay, we called in at Llanberis and caught up with Vivienne Rickman-Poole, a leading member of the Outdoor Swimming Society and famous for her atmospheric underwater photographs taken in the lakes and rivers of North Wales. We thrive on feedback from outdoor swimmers and with a new collection at the design stage, getting Vivienne’s insight into what makes a comfortable and stylish swimsuit was invaluable.

We were also inspired by the landscape of Snowdonia. Our favourite outdoor swimming locations always inspire the colours and textures of our swimwear, and the mountains, with their deep blues, whites and greens are no exception. It was a long drive back from Wales to workshop, but new KinaMara collections are coming shortly. Watch this space.