Wales Stories and Tips

A visit to North Wales

Next to the oldest house in Beamaris Photo, Wales, United Kingdom

Our other day trip from Manchester was to the lovely North Wales island of Anglesey and a drive through Snowdonia National Park. We even managed to get a beautiful day for it!

The skies weren't clear over Manchester mostly but, there's blue sky and sunshine some of the time. We are determined that it will be nicer in Wales and it was! We headed to the Isle of Anglesey to Beaumaris Castle, one of the last ones Edward I built to subjugate the Welsh who were a troublesome lot and objected to his taking over the place. As you would! The castle is right at the end of the town and was unfinished due to lack of funds and probably the death of the King. The cost to get in wasn't very high either.

The castle is large and has an outer wall and an inner one with towers and gates and gatehouses. You can climb up and walk around the top of some of the walls but we thought the stairs looked a bit uncertain for the most part. We did go up on one lower section that looked over the bay, actually the Menai Strait that separates the island from the rest of Wales. We poked around the castle for awhile then walked through the pretty town, admiring some of the very old buildings. One, the oldest, had a door that only came up to Graham's shoulder! The pub where we had lunch dated back to the early 15th century as well, the George and Dragon Inn. The food wasn't bad, decently priced.

There's a little beach there, and they also do cruises on the bay for fishing and bird watching. We had an ice cream and enjoyed the sunshine before getting back on the road again. Next up was a quick drive through the Welsh town with the very long name, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. It's usually called Llanfair PG or Llanfairpwll. I just wanted to take a photo of the full name on a sign somewhere and next to the gas station there was a car dealer with it so i photographed that! Next up, Caernarfon to get a quick look at the castle there, another of Edward I's ring of castles in Wales.

Caernarfon Castle is huge and must have been very intimidating back in the day. We weren't going to take the time to go in and through it but I had wanted to see it from the outside and take a few snaps. It sits on the River Seiont which empties into the Menai Strait. The castle walls and towers are still standing but apparently any of the buildings that were inside it are long gone. We found a spot to stop and i walked back to take a few photos. The castle is next to the town and was walled. We did see a spot where there were remnants of the old city wall nearby as well.

Our other destination was Llanberis, in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. We thought if there was time, we might like to take the old steam train up Mount Snowdon. They also have a steam train that goes along the lake there as well. The SatNav took u s through more little, narrow country lanes and we arrived at the town and parked in the first lot we found. Turns out there was one down the road further and right at where the steam railway stations were. Mind you, if we'd parked there, we likely wouldn't have seen any of the town which was quite pretty and, unusually, many of the businesses in the main shopping area were painted very bright colours.

Llanberis, being in the middle of the national Park and close to the mountains, is a popular base for walkers and hikers and has many outdoor and sporting gear shops. We walked down through the main street and finally found the steam train stations. The first one was the lake one and we didn't want that. The mountain one was across the road. The stink from the steam coming from the train was eye-watering! We never got far enough to find out how long the trip up and back takes because we backed off when we saw the cost, £25 per person! eek! It may be worth it to some, but it was too high for what I thought you would get, a ride up and back with just a visitor center at the top selling expensive coffee, no doubt. I'm sure the views would be worth it but still. It's funny what you'll be willing to pay for and what you won't. We went on the London Eye in London a few days later and paid probably about the same amount for a trip around on that yet we weren't willing to pay it for the train.

We gave that up as a lost cause and anyway, it was later in the afternoon and the light and sun were receding behind clouds so we told ourselves the view up the mountain probably wouldn't have been as good as it would have earlier in the day. We set the SatNav for a scenic drive back through the mountains and valleys of central Wales and the views were spectacular indeed. I did get a few photos but they really don't do it justice at all. The country roads seemed to go on and on. The scenery in North Wales wasn't as dramatic but just as nice but the drive seemed longer than we thought it would be. Maybe we're just tired of driving!

We finally got back home after 6:30. We stopped in to see his dad for a last visit. Packing tonight, returning the car tomorrow and off to London for a last few days together.

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