Destination of the Month

North Wales

 

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  • Fascinating ancient culture and heritage
  • Castles and Forts are amongst some of the finest in the world
  • Thrilling mountain scenery
  • Heritage of the North Wales railways
  • Stunning beaches
  • From formal gardens to mystical woodland glades
 
North Wales has it all in abundance, from the borderlands of Wrexham and Llangollen in the east, to the surf-fringed rocks of Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula in the west. It has the World Heritage sites of Conwy and Caernarfon, walled towns with castles between mountains and sea as well as the unspoiled landscapes of Betws-y-Coed and Snowdonia - the highest peak in England and Wales.
 
Conwy - Discover the lovely Conwy Valley and a variety of hill and lake walks in Snowdonia's foothills. Explore Sychnant Pass for one of the most scenic short drives in North Wales. The nearby Conwy Watergardens have wonderful lakes and wildlife to discover. Conwy Castle is one of Edward I's finest fortifications within his ‘Ring of Steel’. You can climb the towers, walk the walls and explore its rooms and dungeons. On occasion, medieval re-enactments take place in the castle’s courtyard. On the quay you can learn more about Conwy's historic mussel industry where shellfish are still raked by hand. For the food-lover then a visit in October for the annual ‘Feast’, one of Wales' biggest food festivals is a must-do. Conwy also has the highest proportion of independent shops of any town in Britain and there are lovely places to eat and socialise.
 
Betws-y-Coed - The Gateway to Snowdonia. Experience the lure of Snowdonia with a visit to the bustling mountain village of Betws-y-Coed, nestled at the heart of the Conwy Valley where 4 rivers converge, it is a hive of activity. Surrounded by some of Wales’ most spectacular countryside, Betws-y-Coed’s beautiful woodland setting at the foot of the mountains, has appealed to travellers for centuries. A magnet for outdoor enthusiasts, Betws is known as the ‘Gateway to Snowdonia’, providing easy access to some of the best walks in North Wales. 
Gwydir Forest provides the perfect setting for woodland adventures, with miles upon miles of tracks and walking trails to explore. The lush green forest provides a spectacular visit, no matter what time of the year you explore the ancient woodland.  Visit Swallow Falls, a magnificent waterfall system and beauty spot just a few miles out of the village, which can be reached on foot through the forest.  There is great shopping to enjoy in the village too, with unique craft shops, cafés and a wide range of outdoor equipment stores which attract visitors all year round.
 
Llangollen -  This historic town has beauty at every turn.  Llangollen,  once home to Welsh princes and influential abbots, this historic ‘Gateway to Wales’ makes the most of its riverside setting in the narrowest stretch of the Dee Valley. Trains, boats, festivals and more make Llangollen a delight to visit at any time with it being a hub of history and culture. The Royal Pavilion hosts festivals year-round, famously welcoming thousands of visitors each summer for the International Musical Eisteddfod, a unique celebration of world music and dance.  The town marks the start of a 10-mile heritage railway journey along the valley to Corwen, the longest preserved standard gauge steam railway in Wales. You can also travel back in time by exploring nearby monuments, such as the evocative Valle Crucis Abbey beneath the awesome Horseshoe Pass, or the remaining ruins of Castell Dinas Bran. The medieval castle is rumoured to be linked to the legends of King Arthur and  is built on the site of an Iron Age hill fort, high above the town. Enjoy the enchanting stillness of the tree-lined Llangollen Canal via a horse drawn boat trip.
 
Anglesey - Its coastline is as varied as it is spectacular as it has everything in its 125 miles. Discover beaches and cliffs, tiny fishing coves and busy ports. Learn about shipwrecks and tales of derring-do, legends of Princes and Princesses, and tragic lovers. Tour its near-empty roads but be ready to stop every few moments – a sea or mountain vista catches your breath, a country pub promises a delicious lunch, or the volcanic-like landscape of the world’s once largest copper mine simply demands exploration on foot. There are lakes for fishing or quiet contemplation. Tread carefully in Anglesey’s forests and look out for native red squirrels.
 
Beaches in North Wales
With 250 miles of coastline, you will discover a fantastic variety of diverse beaches  with something to suit everyone.  For a day beside the beach, the ever-popular seaside resorts of Rhyl, Abersoch and Llandudno continue to please. With long beaches, there is plenty of activities to enjoy whilst the promenades provide plenty of entertainment. On Anglesey’s beaches you’ll find an array of historically important buildings including churches and lighthouses.
 
Castles & Forts in North Wales
You can spend hours exploring the ramparts, turrets, halls and dungeons of these stone goliaths as well as learning about their history. No two castles are alike. Conwy is defensive, Caernarfon more ceremonial and Beaumaris is regarded as the most sophisticated in medieval history, yet it never saw action. 
The most well-known castles in Wales were built or remodelled by Edward I as part of his ‘Ring of Steel’ to keep the Welsh in line. They are all to be found along the coast, from Flint to Rhuddlan, Conwy to Caernarfon, and Criccieth to Harlech. Yet there are castles in Wales, too, including Ewloe and Dinas Bran in the east, and Dolbadarn and Dolwyddelan in Snowdonia. 
If you want go back in time even further, there are awe-inspiring examples of Iron Age hill forts too. You will find some in the Clwydian Hills, most famously above Llangollen at Dinas Bran and Moel Arthur. In the west, Tre'r Ceiri Hillfort is one of the best preserved and most densely populated forts in the UK. Take a deep breath, though - it's a 400m climb to reach it!
 
Railways in North Wales
North Wales heritage railways are special. Take Ffestiniog - It is the world's oldest narrow gauge railway, dating back two centuries. It brought slate from the mountains down to waiting ships at Porthmadog, when Welsh slate was used to roof buildings around the world. Today you may find yourself travelling in a 150-year-old carriage. With routes all across North Wales, from a five-mile trip beside Llyn Padarn to a day trip on the Welsh Highland Railway, the UK's longest heritage railway, enjoy all the sights of Snowdonia from the comfort of a carriage. Hop aboard the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which takes you 1200m to the top of England and Wales' highest mountain and fills every window with postcard views.
 
North Wales History & Heritage
You can experience it in historic buildings and town centres, centuries-old villages, working museums and in the Welsh language - still the first language in many places. With entry to museums free and many of historic buildings beautifully preserved, a visit to North Wales is a wonderful cultural experience. 
The castles may grab all the headlines, but there are plenty of other opportunities to immerse yourself in the rich heritage of this ancient Celtic land. Throughout the region there are ornate churches as well as austere country chapels and mysterious burial chambers, evocative reminders of harsher times in centuries past.  North Wales’heritage also boasts grand properties in the care of the National Trust, from Erddig in the east to Plas Newydd in the west, each revealing incredible family histories and stories of industrial endeavour.  Wales’ world-famous slate industry is vividly brought to life at the National Slate Museum in Llanberis and at Llechwedd Slate Quarry where you can hear the haunting tale of a youngster's difficult life working the mines. Copper, lead and gold were also mined in North Wales, mines you can still explore today.  Learn about Welsh culture and language at Nant Gwyrtheryn, a converted former quarryman's village perched on the sea cliffs near Nefyn.
 
Museums & Galleries in North Wales
You can find landmarks in almost all towns in North Wales reminding you of the past.  Seeing the history is one thing, but learning about it, is what makes these landmarks special. Museums in North Wales are sure to delight with an in-depth look at the history which made North Wales the destination it is today.  See North Wales in a different light at the regions’ art galleries.  With such stunning landscapes, North Wales has been the destination of choice  to artists from all over the world, many of whose art is still on show in the galleries today.
 
Gardens in North Wales
From formal lawns to mystical woodland glades, a wander around North Wales' parks and gardens is like exploring an enchanted world within a magical world. With a plant-friendly climate and hilly landscapes, green-fingered experts have cultivated some of the most spectacular parks and gardens in the UK. Discover gardens hidden where you least expect them or visit our historic houses and explore acres of flora and fauna. Bodnant Garden and Portmeirion attract garden lovers from around the world. Bodnant's meticulous design and clever landscaping creates the illusion of a garden reaching beyond the horizon. Countryside views are framed with plants, trees and garden architecture. It is as if the garden never ends!  The hidden gardens at Plas Cadnant on Anglesey have been painstakingly restored and offer an unforgettable experience, sure to inspire any budding horticulturalist. Perhaps visit Bodelwyddan Castle's 260 acre parkland, with spectacular views over the Clwydian hills and 500 years of fascinating history to discover.

 

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