It has been about a month since our visit in North Wales. As our stay was ending we made an additional photo call at Criccieth Castle, then headed into Porthmadog for some drinks and snacks for the road.
We then headed northward to check out the great Edward the First castles of Caernarfon and Conwy.
I had visited Caernarfon years ago, and well remembered the impressive castle. On this recent visit I had the opportunity to renew those memories, and to take in the spectacular battlements and towers. Parking in on most sides of the castle and while a brief walk might be in store, with a little patience you can get parked close by.
It was a very busy day when we visited, and a pirate festival (I believe) was going on so it made for a even more crowded feel on the approaches to the castle. That said, it was well worth the journey to see again.
Nearby are the Medieval walls of the town. I have seen lots of Medieval town walls (Norwich, etc) which have portions intact. While Caernarfon’s are not as extensive as York’s or Chester’s, they are nonetheless impressive with their thickness and they along with the castle must have been an imposing reminder of Edward I’s conquest to the local population.
Beyond these two features, we found the town a bit too crowded (on the day) for more exploring, so set off for the next port of call Conwy.
I had also visited Conwy’s castle years (decades) ago, and climbed the towers, and taken it all in. On this visit we just took in the majesty of the structure from below. This is a really awesome fortification, and it easy to see how it took so much of the English budget to build it for Edward. It dominates the town, and is a wonderful example with its towers. When we visited this time, there was renovation/preservation going on, so some of the outer walls were under scaffolding, but it was nonetheless an impressive sight.
What I enjoyed more was the quayside. The Quay at Conway is what many people would picture of the ideal seaside vista. The quayside with its stacks of crab/lobster pots, the boats resting in the harbour, and the old town behind, and the sea afore.
We arrived an found parking by the RNLI and we were able to spend a brief time taking in the views, before I headed down the key to find more venues to visit.
There are a few shops, and the public toilets are about midway down the quay from the castle end heading towards the smallest house. There is a pub as well, and if facing towards the castle there are some good views of it as well.
There is also a harbour boat tour which departs from the quay as well.
One of the great features of Conwy is the “Smallest House in Great Britain.” As huge as the castle is, the other end of the scale is not to be missed either. This little gem is a “must see” It is a mere 72 inches across, 122 inches high and 120 inches deep. It is near the Quay and is basically pedestrianized now, but is easy to reach from the parking near the RNLI. It has a bold coat of paint, so even though small is not easy to miss.
We next made our way to Llandudno. We have been to many seaside towns in Britain, and many have areas which maintain the Georgian and Victorian terraced frontages (Hastings for example). Llandudno seems unique to me in that the entire Promenade area is unchanged. There are no arcades, shops, or eateries breaking the pattern of terrace, These are primarily guest houses, hotels, and other accommodation, but it does give a feel of the past. The terraces overlook the water, and there is a certain calm to it all. It does ave many of the usual seaside activities, but most of these are found a street or two inland.
I didn’t think I would every write a negative review of Costa Coffee. I am in fact a Costa fan. That said, the Llandudno branch was a real disappointment. This seems a very popular, or at least busy outlet. There was a steady queue, and the baristas were pushed to the limit. This may be the source of the problem. There were no available tables, which is fine, as we were prepared to drink in the car, but the drinks themselves were almost undrinkable. We had ordered two large coconut chais, and they in turn, and after a long wait were ready. They were hot, so we didn’t taste them right away, so decided to go to the seafront to drink them. When we got there, they were so strong, as to leave a spice burn, and an aftertaste. I don’t know if the chai mix was inadvertently increased, or if it was somehow off. I assume the former rather than the latter. But, we were not in a mood to go back and deal with parking, and the queue again. So homeward bound, next stop East Anglia.