Having spent my university life in North Wales it was easy to just sail through the three years watching it go by and not really enjoying the local surroundings. Especially having grown up in the North of England where everyone and their Gran seems to have visited the Welsh coast as a weekend getaway or a small holiday
This week, in an attempt to escape life as a graduate, I returned to the place I went to University and went to some of the more touristy locations across the North Walian coast. That and the copious amount of pubs and bars that become synonymous with university life. It’s easy at times to forget just how much there is to do around North Wales.
Location: Menai Bridge
Parking: On site – free
Price: £6.50 Adults, £6 Concessions, £2 Children
I’m trying to avoid saying the obvious pun here. The Hidden Gardens (Plas Cadnant Gardens) are on Anglesey, down a country road on a small turn-off not too far away from the town of Beaumaris. Costing £6.50 for adults (£2 for children) the Plas Cadnant gardens are extremely popular with photographers and you can be guaranteed that you’ll find someone pointing their lens at a flower as you walk around.
I wasn’t overly sure what to expect from the Hidden Gardens. I expected a good walk since the information cabin at the start said it was approximately two hours long to walk around – slightly more if, like us, you manage to get lost. It did however pleasantly surprise me. I didn’t actually realise the extent of the gardens – let alone that they were there.
The stream running towards the furthest point of the river – and the 39 steps – was possibly one of the biggest surprises. On the whole I’d definitely recommend it. For only £6.50 you get a good place to walk around and quite frankly I could sit near the mini-waterfall all day quite happily.
Mount Snowdon & Llanberis
Location: Llanberis, Gwynedd
Parking: Various around the village – ranges in cost so beware.
Set in Gwynedd Mt Snowdon and Llanberis offers a variety of different walks, and things to do. Ranging from walking
around lake Padarn and riding the lake railway, mountain railway or visiting the slate museum, Llanberis offers a lot of opportunities considering it only has a population of around 2,000 people. Easily accessible by bus the village has a number of different car parks but they seem to rise in price the closer you get to the foot of Mount Snowdon.
The village itself is popular because it is the home of the Snowdon mountain railway as well as the popular Llanberis path for scaling Snowdon. Whilst the path may seem to be one of the longer paths (nine miles and a six hour journey) it is the path with the smallest gradient and as such is more popular with tourists. It also walks you alongside the Snowdon train so you can watch the train go by. The train itself isn’t exactly cheap (adult prices starting from £27) but it definitely saves time and a long trek.
For anyone wanting a less steep walk Llanberis also offers Lake Padarn. A lake that you can walk around, still a distance not to be sniffed at and one side of the water plays home to the National Slate Museum. A place that is definitely more interesting than it may sound on the face of it. We also managed to get in the way of a few slightly disgruntled sheep on our journey.
Great Orme & Beyond
Parking: Various around the Town – price varies
Price: Great Orme Tramway: £6.00 return, £4.40 single
Llandudno is one of the most traditional places to visit across North Wales. Boasting one of the top five longest piers in England & Wales and the longest pier in Wales, the town often harks back to days gone by and has regular events springing up around the year to attract people to the seaside town.
One of the most popular places to visit is the Great Orme. A hollow limestone structure the Orme offers a place to visit for not just walkers but families and beyond. In fact if you don’t quite want to walk up the Great Orme you can get the tram or even a cable car.
The top of the Orme has a visitor centre complete with dining hall, gift shop, picnic area, pub and children’s playground. So you’re not likely to be bored as you reach the summit. If you found yourself walking up you might be worth a beer. We decided to get the tram so I hadn’t quite earned a beer this time – also the car awaited so I opted for the sensible choice.
Aber Falls (Rhaeadr Fawr)
Location: Abergwyngregyn, Gwynedd
So there’s plenty of places to walk in Wales, it’s a pretty green place, or it’s green and pretty, one of the two, it’s really up to you. This has to be one of the most hidden yet one of the most popular. Especially having studied in Bangor it is one of those destinations that everyone really does go on about as one of the North Wales highlights.
The distance between the car park and the falls themselves is relatively short, although the sign posts that actually point you through the journey are not overly great. You’ll find one pointing up a path from the car park only to realise the road forks and you’re going to take a punt on which route to take.
We opted left – it wasn’t overly correct – or it was correct, it would just have ended up taking us up and around the falls through some long convoluted way. The right option took a 1.4 mile and about 30 minute walk to get to the falls. Possibly a more sensible option if you’re just expecting a nice short trip.
Getting to the car park also poses a bit of a problem for drivers with ludicrously narrow roads that are, at times, only suitable for single file traffic. Unfortunately for us we encountered a car at the narrowest point resulting in a rather awkward reversing session.
So this one may have been only a flying visit but the train station and the visitors centre at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is a must see for anyone who may be planning a visit to North Wales. We live in a fairly technological day and age and every student across North Wales will, at some point, have lined up with friends to take a picture of the train station sign.
What are your favourite places to see and places to visit in North Wales? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.