I recently completed my travels to Wales. The plan – a little walking adventure to see historic and beautiful natural sites in Northern Wales. Expected weather typically 50 to 60oF, with clouds, wind and drizzle. This sounded lovely!!
Okay, so the phrase ‘best laid plans’ comes to mind. Here’s what actually happened!
Our itinerary included the following:
- 2 nights in Llandudno, Northern Wales – Snooze Restaurant and Bar
- 1 night Conwy, Northern Wales – Castlebank Hotel
- 1 night Llanfairfechan, Northern Wales – Min-Y-Don Guest House
- 1 night Bangor, Northern Wales – Y Garth Guest House
- 1 night Caernarfon, Northern Wales – Caer Menai Guest House
- 1 night Holyhead, Northern Wales – Monravon Bed & Breakfast
- 1 night Trearrdur Bay, Northern Wales – Ingledene Bed and Breakfast
- 1 night Four Mile Bridge, Northern Wales – Anchorage Hotel
- 1 night Rhosneigr, Northern Wales – Ambleside Bed & Breakfast
- Take ferry from Holyhead to Dublin – Irish Ferries Swiftboat
- 3 nights Dublin, Ireland – Fleet Street Hotel
While I put the trip together, I was only responsible for the first and last accommodations. The rest of our accommodations were handled by Contours and they were all pretty good, for the most part. Although one fell into the category of ‘youth hostel needing update’, but it was all part of the adventure. Our two favorite accommodations that really stood out and I would highly recommend were:
- Snooze Restaurant and Bar in Llandudno – This is a small, high-end boutique bed & breakfast has fabulous food, creative drinks and lovely accommodations. It is a small quaint, well-appointed hotel just off the promenade.
- Min-Y-Don Guest House in Llanfairfechan is a wonderful place. The rooms have all been updated with very luxurious finishes. The owners who are your hosts, chef and in-house magicians are lovely. Big warm hugs goodbye were welcomed as they sent on our way down the path!
The Welsh people were lovely . . . . really and truly lovely. Everyone said hello as you passed on the trails, as you stood there trying to read a map in the city they would ask if you needed directions, and many . . . . after hearing our American accents, would stop to chat or sit with us at the Pub. Those encounters often made our day!
Only one day was typical of Welsh weather and, of course, we decided to venture to the top of Great Orme in Llandudno. Windy, wet, and cold. The old saying was ‘if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes, it will change’. And change it did!
The rest of the trip the weather was actually stunning, mid to high 70’s, clear blue skies, and light breezes (or no breeze). But as we all had prepared for much cooler temperatures, we were roasting! Yes, we could ditch the jackets, but the sun was ready for cooking so we kept the long sleeve shirts on just for the sun protection alone.
Walking distances were estimates only and typically under-estimated by 25 to 50%!! And we were not taking side trips from the trail! That does mess with your head as you are trying to pace yourself for the day. During one day of walking I saw this sign. I could not stop laughing as i truly related to it as I stood there!
Of course there were opportunities to cool your feet along the way. The initial few minutes felt great . . . . and then my feet felt numb. Someone said the water temperature was about 16 degrees C (about 60 degrees F)! And there were people swimming . . . . without wet suits!!
The Northern Wales Coastal Path were varied . . . . . paved, grassy, rocky, wooded and sandy. We covered a portion of the path through Conwy Valley and another portion on the Isle of Anglesey coastal trail. The views were just as varied. I can see why it is so treasured by the Welsh.
And the castles!! Yes, I loved the castles. Still so impressive after hundreds of years. It was so interesting to see how the towns were built up around them . . . . evolved and integrated together so seamlessly!
We ate out way through the country. Our favorite was the bread and butter at breakfast. Seriously!! Often took leftovers in a napkin for snacks on the trail. The Welsh do dairy products well. Of course, there was the occasional fish & chips and we even snuck in an afternoon tea . . . or two!! For me, the best meal of the trip was a lamb duet (cutlet and mini Shepard’s pie) at the Oyster Catcher in Rhosneigr. And the cocktail menus were intriguing. I am familiar with flavored vodka’s and even rums, but flavored gin??? Apparently, it’s a very popular item in the UK as is the old standard gin and tonic. But with the flavored gin, it was a whole new experience that we thoroughly enjoyed – rhubard and ginger, edleflower, grapefruit and an orange marmalade.
In hindsight, we would have changed a few things. Moving to different accommodations every night was a drag. The areas in Northern Wales we visited were all fairly close and local transportation (train, buses and taxis) is plentiful. We should have picked one or two places and walked/explored from there. This would have allowed more time visiting the places, rather than walking from place to place. Often by the time we got to our destination and rested our feet, things were beginning to close for the day. This is in no way a slight on the group that arranged our walk. They did exactly what they were supposed to.
And while we did ‘stop to smell the roses’, we also discovered that our kind of walking is more destination oriented like to galleries, restaurants, museums and . . . . . maybe a few retail stores! I can’t wait to see what we come up with for our next adventure!!