Rhyl combines with Prestatyn to create a vast summer resort area on the north coast of Wales, barely out of the River Clwyd estuary, in the Liverpool bay.
Originally a fairly elegant Victorian resort, brought to prominence when railways started taking people for holidays from the English industrial hinterland. Still, the holidaying habits change and Rhyl has been in the continuous decline since the end of the WW2, although some improvements have been brought by a series of regeneration projects.
Rhyl now is a quintessential British working-class seaside resort: the low coast lined with caravan parks, the town centre full of shabby(is) B&Bs, amusement arcades and shops selling ice-cream, fish and chips and tacky souvenirs. It's near to major cities of Manchester and Liverpool, easily accessible via major motorways and on a train route: altogether a handy destination, although this is really where its genuine appeal ends.
The beach is good, in its own way - between Rhyl and Prestatyn there are six miles of sand, safe and shallow (if often murky due to wave movement) sea. It's surrounded by all kinds of "attractions" and "facilities", from donkey rides to fun fairs, water sports equipment hire places and the like. There is a Victorian promenade, though the old five-domed Pavilion is gone; modern amusements include an aquarium and a theme park with miniature buildings called Children's Village
In the summer, places like that can be great fun for a day or two - if you are in a mood for such things; or hell - if you aren't. Out of season, they are often quiet, almost deserted and unbearably sad, the threadbare fabric showing as the tacky decorations get blown away by the wind.
Did I enjoy our half-day in Rhyl one autumn Sunday? Perversly, yes - I have a penchant for somehow desolate coastal locations of all kinds, including shabby resorts in the winter, ghostly ex-fishing villages, snow-covered quays of container ports derelict beaches. The beach at Rhyl wasn't derelict, in fact, it was rather lovely in a low-key, grey-skies and silver sand way, stretching far and wide at low tide, and almost empty.
Would I come here for a summer holiday? No, but if you are apssing by and want to see what a typical low-grade British seaside place looks like, Rhyl and Prestatyn are ideal. Have an ice cream, take a mini-train ride, eat fish and chips, and then go on, to the much better areas further west and north.