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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 June, 2004, 06:17 GMT 07:17 UK
Stars come out for parks
Bryn Terfel
Bryn Terfel said Snowdonia's beauty must be preserved
Snowdonia is Bryn Terfel's favourite, pop star David Gray cannot get enough of the Pembrokeshire Coast and Brian Blessed wants us all to go to the Brecon Beacons.

Wales' three national parks have been described as "international treasures" and "the lungs of the nation", but are you making the most of them?

Martin Fitton, Chief Executive of the Association of National Park Authorities, said all three parks were "exceedingly beautiful in very different ways".

"Wales is possibly the most beautiful country in the world due to its diverse geology," he said.

"It gives such a wide range of scenery from the rugged grandeur of Snowdonia/Eryri, to the softer sand and limestone peaks of the Brecon Beacons to the incomparable coast of Pembrokeshire and its islands."


The biggest of the parks by far is Eryri/Snowdonia, which covers 823 square miles from Machynlleth and Aberdyfi in the south to Llanberis and Conwy in the north.

There are 15 mountains over 3,000ft within the park

And it is more than just an attraction - there are more than 26,000 people living in the midst of its breathtaking mountains, which have inspired artists including Sir Kyffin Williams.

As the highest mountain in Wales and England, Snowdon, or Yr Wyddfa, itself attracts more than 500,000 visitors a year.

Many of these make it to the summit cafe by fighting their way up one of the many trails, but if you cannot face that ordeal, a railway has been running to the top since 1896.

But Snowdon is not the only big draw, there are 90 other peaks over 2,000 feet to explore, including Cadair Idris, near Dolgellau.

Opera singer Bryn Terfel is a big fan of the region's "spectacular surroundings".

"It is a constant reminder that we should cherish and protect this breathtaking landscape of deep valleys and rugged mountains for future generations," he said.

Pembrokeshire Coast

Pembrokeshire Coast, stretching from Cardian right round to beyond Tenby, spans 170 miles of dramatic coastline.

David Gray
Pop star David Gray loves the Pembrokeshire Coast

The park is distinctive for its majestic cliffs, beautiful beaches and a plethora of wildlife.

Its highlights include the challenge of its coastal path, which is 186 miles long and attracts walkers from across the world, and Britain's smallest city St David's.

But equally famous are colonies of seals and seabirds, and the rich range of wild flowers that have made the park their home.

It is enough to convince musician David Gray, who was brought up nearby.

"Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is my favourite place in the world and always will be," he said.

The park celebrated its half-century in 2003.

Brecon Beacons

Covering 520 square miles between Hay-on-Wye and Llandeilo, the Brecon Beacons offer a range of mountains, lakes, forests and gorges.

Brian Blessed
Brian Blessed is President of the National Parks

The park incorporates the Black Mountains, the Central Beacons and Fforest Fawr, and is tough enough to be used as a testing ground by the SAS, who are based in nearby Hereford.

People have been living in the area for more than 5,000 years, and the sense of history is captured in the standing stones and cairns that dot the landscapes.

And Actor Brian Blessed, who is president of the National Parks, stressed its central location should also be a reason for visitors to sample its delights.

"These are beautiful mountains - they are not frightening, and they are accessible from London.

"You can reach here so quickly from the M4."

In pictures: Wales' national parks
30 Jun 04  |  In Pictures
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01 Jun 04  |  Wales
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20 Apr 04  |  North West Wales
Park staff paid to go by bike
25 Nov 03  |  South West Wales
Mining threat to beauty spot
24 Nov 03  |  Mid

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