Experiencing The Wonders Of North Wales
Legends are integral to Snowdonia with vivid tales describing how fierce
dragons roamed through the mountains over vast periods of time. Even Snowdon, the tallest mountain of its kind in England and Wales, captures an ethereal quality that is timeless.
A storyteller at Caernerfon Castle reveals how the white mist over the mountain peak of Snowden resembles a frightful dragon who flees northward once the summer succumbs to winter, before returning to its nebulous form on the mountain peak in spring.
Many Welsh myths are riddled with tales about natural phenomena. Upon hearing these stories, individuals are often lured to these remote parts, only to find that there are more sheep than humans in this stark land. Gazing at the beautiful Tal-y-llyn Lake surrounded by mountains, the serenity of the scenery entices us to stay lakeside at the Tyn Y Cornel Hotel. www.tynycornel.co.uk
Over at Cardigan Bay, the gulls and cormorants seem the only inhabitants except for a few holidaymakers staying in caravans near the beaches. All seem content while enjoying the tranquility of the quiet surroundings that seems far away from bustling life.
Thoughts of North Wales seem synonymous with castles, as each one of these historic sites has its own tales to tell. Among the famous World Heritage sites, Harlech, Beaumaris, Conwy and Caernerfon Castles are some of the most imposing fortresses that served as strongholds for English princes conquering the Welsh tribes. Caernerfon is noted as a top attraction, marking the royal investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales.
Another strategic fortress, Conwy Castle, is an enormous 13th century fortification that was built for Edward I during his conquest of Wales. The castle walled defenses enclosed the entire the town of Conwy during the medieval period.
Along the coast, an extraordinary experience can be had at Portmeirion, an Italianate village created by Welsh architect, Clough Williams-Ellis. In Portmeirion, his architectural design included whimsical fantasy and a variety of quirky features, such as faux windows and other illusions, to heighten the visual appeal and sensual experience.
Many celebrities have come to Portmeirion, including the Beatles musician George Harrison and his manager, Brian Epstein, along with famous playwright, Noel Coward, who wrote his well-known work Blythe Spirit while staying in a villa overlooking the estuary of the River Dwyryd near the coastal town of Porthmadog. This town is the starting point where the Welsh Highway Railway (www.whr.co.uk) operates a narrow gauge steam train, providing a thrilling ride through Snowdonia National Park, as well as to other scenic places.
Marveling at the beauty of Portmeirion, we chose to stay at the Castell Deudraeth, a 4-star luxury hotel overlooking an idyllic setting with sheep scattered on the grounds. The contemporary hotel provided spacious accommodations with in-suite fireplaces and other modern design features that enhanced our stay. www.portmeiron-village.com
Traveling through the Menai Strait from the mainland of Wales to the Isle of Anglesey can also be an exciting adventure. As the largest island in England and Wales, Anglesey is a haven for recreational pursuits with plenty of beaches, coves, and bays. It is also one of the locations to catch ferries that sail from the Welsh port of Holyhead to Dublin, Ireland.
In our travels, a distinguished property that seems so unusual is the Chateau Rhianfa (www.chateaurhianfa.com), a French style villa overlooking lovely gardens and providing marvelous views of the channel and the Menai Bridge spanning the strait between the island of Anglesey and the mainland of Wales.
Out of the five working lighthouses on Anglesey, one of the most remote is Trwyn Du Lighthouse at Penmon Point. This lighthouse is a magnet for holiday-makers, offering great views of the mainland, Great Orme and Puffin Island and is a great place to catch mackerel.
Touring North Wales provides different experiences, whether it is climbing to the ramparts of castles, gazing at scenic lighthouses or finding joy in sighting sheep in green pastures. Yet, discovering off- beaten sites to find an ancient priory or view an old sea captain’s gravestone is just as valuable since these experiences offer a glimpse of the Welsh life and traditions that continue to thrive.
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