Wales

Introduction

Great Britain - Wales

Criccieth Castle, Northern Wales

Wales is a gorgeous area of the United Kingdom. It is an area well visited during the tourist season but large enough that you can get away from all that and hide yourself in some remote area, making it your own.

Sparsely inhabited, Wales is a land of mountains, lakes, seaside and forests. Sparse it might be but the Welsh are a fiercely proud people celebrating their own unique culture and language (which seemed until only just recently to be lost).

I have largely explored in the north but have also visited the south more in recent years.

Attractions

The following are some attractions that I have visited and can recommend:

  • Caernarfon Castle - One of the four castles built by Edward I in the 13th century. This castle was never completely finished, evidence of this is the obvious future locations of various walls and structures. A tour is provided and is highly recommended. Great views of the surrounding Menai Strait and the rest of the town. Parking is available right beside the castle itself but signage is somewhat lacking after leaving the highway going into the town (advice: look for the castle and drive towards it), additional parking is available in the public car parks located and well sign-posted. A nominal entrance fee is charged though this is waived if you are a member of CADW (welsh historical society). For further information, please call (01286) 677 617. (CAERNARFON) Caernarfon, Northern Wales
  • Conwy Castle - One of the four castles built by Edward I in the 13th century to protect his recent conquest of the Welsh, this castle has walls also containing the small village originally occupied by the English. A beautiful castle that has suffered some damage over the years but is still intact enough to give the visitor a good idea of what was there before. A nominal entrance fee is charged though this is waived if you are a member of CADW (welsh historical society). The tours are offered by an independent group within the castle walls and is worth taking. Great views of the rest of the town and famous bridges leading to the town. There is also a good walk along about 1/3 of the city walls and it is FREE. For further information, please call (01492) 592 358. (CONWY) Conwy, Northern Wales
  • Criccieth Castle - Ok, so it is not exactly a great castle but really the surroundings are the thing. Criccieth is one of my favourite towns, sufficiently away from the hustle and bustle (if you can call it that) of Porthmadog and Portmerion so that you can enjoy the wonderful seaside and quiet B & Bs that line the shoreline. There is a nominal charge to visit the castle but often it is free (the gate is open). Parking is available at a small cost right beside the beach (again, free during certain days and during off-season). (CRICCIETH) Criccieth, Northern Wales
  • Ffestiniog Railway - A charming railway that runs a series of old locomotives that were formerly used to deliver slate from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog to be loaded on boats. This railway winds it's way along the side of a number of mountains and through a few tunnels. You can get off at any of the many stations along the line (even though many of the stations are not accessible by vehicle – only by train) which is useful if you wish to hike in the area (a book is available detailing various walks from the stations along the route). For further information, please call (01766) 512 340. (BLAENAU FFESTINIOG/PORTHMADOG) Ffestiniog Railway, Northern Wales
  • Hay-on-Wye - A beautiful small village on the English/Welsh border well known for it's yearly book festival and numerous independent book stores.
  • Snowdon - This is the highest peak in Wales and is climbed by many people every day. Most people choose to climb up following a trail from Llanberis though there is a train service operated by the Snowdon Mountain Railway (for further information, please call (01286) 870 223) which offers a charming service to the top during the summer, other times the service terminates about one mile below the peak (it is a TOUGH walk up from there – be sure to check the service provided on the day you visit). The view from the top is fantastic and well worth the climb. The path leading to the top is well worn and obvious though there is a lot of loose slate on the path in what seems to be the steepest parts. When the train travels to the top, there is a small canteen and post office. Parking at the bottom is available in a VERY small car park right at the train station but, on good days, this will be full unless you arrive early. Parking is also available elsewhere in the town. (near LLANBERIS) Mount Snowdon - Looking Down
  • Llechwedd Slate Caverns - It is very strange entering this area with the massive mountains of slate on either side of the road – even more astonishing to think that less than 200 years ago there was no slate on the service whatsoever. This exhibition is very good, offering one ride on a tramway that provides various displays about how mining was performed in the early days of the mine in the early 1800s. This tour combines an initial recorded section but the rest is by a tour operator who is very imformative. Another tour, the 'Deep Mine' tour is more of an exhibit about the social life of the early miners with a recorded voiceover that guides you through a series of large caverns that are impressive in themselves. The outside exhibits are not nearly as impressive, offering a few small shops and a pub. For further information, please call (01766) 830 306. (BLAENAU FFESTINIOG) Blaenau Ffestiniog - Near Llechwedd Slate Caverns
  • Portmeirion - A strange place that is as much an architectural oddity as a site of extreme beauty. Situated on the side of a cliff overlooking a bay, Portmeirion is a strange village of small stores and buildings nestled amongst themselves as well as the cliffs. Every time I visit I find something new and different. Do NOT miss the nature walks all around the site. Yes, this WAS the site used for filming of the television cult masterpiece 'The Prisoner' though only one small room is devoted to the show – the rest is to be enjoyed as it is… (near PORTHMADOG, GWYNEDD) Portmeirion

There are a number of free brochures that list various attractions in Wales, including one for the 'Top 10 Attractions of Wales' and another, the 'Top 10 Attractions in Northern Wales', both are worth reading, if only for general ideas.

Further Information

For further information, please see: