Gazing across the calm waters of the Menai Strait, eyes shielded from the gorgeous sun setting down for the night reflecting the golden light off the surface, I just knew it was one of my favourite places in the world. Here I was in North Wales and I couldn’t believe that I had the best five days here, just a stone’s throw away from Yorkshire compared to my round the world travels. Even with a cool breeze briskly battering against the city walls of Caernarfon, I still loved the experience as I tucked into a big platter of wine-infused mussels and seafood on the waterfront, also, with a pint of the good Welsh Stuff – Brains Ale. As I sat back, fully engorged, I reflected. Just why was North Wales a fantastic place to be in spring?
Caernarfon – The Welsh Heart
Slipping silently into this quiet town during late evening after a fantastic day of driving the Welsh highlands, I would soon realise that this most Welsh-speaking town called Caernarfon would become my favourite destination in the nature-strewn province of North Wales.
Dropping our bags off at Totters Independent Hostel, a charming and super friendly hostel situated yards from the town’s 2 most gorgeous attractions – Caernarfon Castle and the Menai Strait that separates mainland Wales to the Druid-lore island of Anglesey, we saw that it’s a town full of surprises. The sun was out reflecting on the Menai waters’ calm and dazzling tide and I thought no better than to sit alongside the Strait on the Waterfront and sup a beer with a ‘leek’ in it!
Unarguably, the best feature is Caernarfon Castle but as you follow the old City Walls leading and tempting you to explore the many services and establishments listed around such as The Black Boy Inn that has the best welsh food around in the form of Welsh Pork Belly, Leek and Potato Pie, Welsh Cheeses and even more copious Welsh Ale. Blas, a lunchtime option restaurant also serves a fantastic selection of Welsh Seafood as I helped myself to Menai Mussels that was absolutely scrumptious.
However, you cannot absolutely miss this medieval castle wherever you are in Caernarfon. You are surrounded by the old castle walls and if you follow-up the ‘Hole in the Wall Street’ you are greeted with the almighty splendour of Caernarfon Castle. Regarded as one of Europe’s most intact castles, you’ll get yourself lost in the many towers that intertwine with the walls affording views of brilliance and architectural delights. Just don’t forget to check out the Museum of the Welsh Fusiliers in the secret basement below.
Snowdonia National Park – Nature at its best
Climbing high up in the Mountains of the Snowdonia Peaks, the scenery changed for the more dramatic. Winds started howling, the atmosphere turned bleaker, the wilderness turned rough but you know what? I’ve never felt so refreshed. This is Snowdonia. The playground of RAF/NATO exercises using the towering peaks for dodging, you can truly appreciate the scenery as you stand your feet astride on one of the highest driving roads in Wales. Throughout the day, you will be constantly getting out of your car to marvel at the stunning lakes, majestic mountains and literally feel the awe of nature smack you in the face. If you have time, why not climb the iconic Mount Snowdon or perhaps if you’re feeling lazy, jump on board the mountain railway to reach to one of the top peaks of the United Kingdom and feel like you are on top of the world!
Anglesey – Shrouded Mysterious Isle
‘Llan…fair….gobbleledook.’ I surmised mirthly as I read out the longest place-name in Europe. I don’t think my many years of speech therapy as a kid, thanks to my deafness, could make me read out this. Yes, we were in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. A mouthful isn’t it? This village, making a name for themselves as the longest place name in Europe, resides just on the other side of the Menai Strait on the mysterious isle of Anglesey. With quaint villages dotted about on the flat island, it can make for a fabulous day out to picnic with the sheep or you can drive straight on through to Holy Island where you can catch the ferry to Ireland. Instead of turning right to Holyhead, I would heartily recommend a gem of a place by turning left to a craggy part of Holy Island where the White Eagle Pub stands. To date, I’ve never had the best Seafood Chowder since and believe me, I’ve tried!
Conwy – History Bought to Life
Arriving in this impressive walled market town I was struck how beautiful and yet, simple it is. It was literally a fairytale town with its very own castle that stands mightily proud bringing security and familiarity to its residents. As part of the system of Castles built along the North Wales coastline by King Edward I, Conwy Castle proves to be one of the most outstanding castles in Europe, and that’s just by looking at it! This town built within the confines of the Conwy Castle Walls to which even some of the houses rest upon, I knew I would want to climb the walls to get a good view of the city, its skyline dominated by Conwy Castle in the forefront and background. It was absolutely worth it as I skipped to the top.
With the view of River Conwy on one side and the whole of Wales to the south, I trudged along the castle walls and marvelled at how the town is squeezed into its walls. Exploring the green space outside the East Wall of Conwy, we were given great majestic views of Conwy Castle up close, its walls that stands to testament of time throughout the ages. Housed within, was a truly spectacular museum of Welsh History at its finest for every visitor to lavishly enjoy.
In just this small corner of North West Wales, you are definitely going to have a beautiful Spring Experience to remember. A vibrant nature, a whole other culture, a different language, a realm of tasty food and lip-smacking ales, a dynamic history brought to life and best yet, a fantastic destination. I urge you, go to North Wales.