For us, Wales is certainly the green green grass of home. It may be the title of a famous Tom Jones hit, but it also happens to be true in so many ways and here’s why!
Firstly, it’s confession time. Yes, we’re a little bit spoilt and we know it. We’re not shy in bragging about it and in fact we talk quite a lot about it!
That’s because our home region is North Wales and we love it!
Lastly, we don’t mind sharing our enthusiasm, so let’s begin with a little insight into some of our favourite facts about North Wales and why we love it here.
North Wales is our indulgence, it’s a spiritual place full of dramatic beauty. There’s a deep rich and natural past where strong traditions still thrive through its core today.
This place that we hold so close to our hearts, is the place we call our own. It’s the window to a wonderful, wild and welcoming homeland which is Wales. Affectionately known to those Welsh folk across the world as ‘The land of our fathers’.
We were both born and bred here in the North of Wales, in a little piece of paradise.
Nestled on the edge of the mountains between the sea and minutes from one of Edward I’s mighty 13th Century fortresses – The incredible Conwy Castle.
Commanding the surrounding landscape for all to admire, Conwy Castle looks out onto a serene river estuary below. It also reminds us why in 2018, Wales celebrated “The Year of The Sea”.
We’re fortunate that vanlife travels bring such enormous thrills and experiences. Often these are beyond the realms of our imagination, bringing amazing sights in new surroundings. Although it’s still always a joy to return to Wales.
North Wales is somewhere that we love to explore when we arrive back at base. It’s a magical myriad of ancient history combined with rich culture and dramatic landscapes. Not forgetting the most spectacular coastline.
It’s no wonder that North Wales made it to the Lonely Planet list of “Top 10 Regions to Visit in 2017″.
If you haven’t visited yet, you must put it on your to go to list! Wales is a friendly place where a warm welcome awaits – Welcome to Wales – Croeso i Gymru!
Wales the green, green grass of home!
Of course, no visit to North Wales would be complete with a walk. So, whilst taking in the spectacular coastline, home to the Wales Coastal Path, why not try out some of the 870 miles of walkways!
Along the way, you’ll discover a beautiful and largely unspoilt region, mostly left in the way nature intended.
Not only that but historic monuments dating back to Roman and Celtic times are an extra treat. Then, looking out for dolphins, seals and an array of sea birds all adds to the variety of the region.
When the walking boots are hung up, why not pop into one of our traditional pubs and sample a local ale? Mingling with the locals whilst sharing their tales in the finest Welsh tongue is a great way to relax.
North Wales has a wealth of inland hiking trails and is, of course home to Snowdon – the dominent peak rising to 1085M. This is the 2nd highest mountain in the United Kingdom, but just one of many challenging mountain climbs in Snowdonia National Park.
It’s no surprise, that the early Everest expeditions would practice in these mountains. Although some trails are difficult, there are plenty of less strenuous walking routes to be found across Snowdonia.
A drive across the spectacular, Thomas Telford designed Menai Suspension bridge over to Anglesey brings one of our favourite views in the World.
Enjoying enviable scenery over the incredibly beautiful Menai Straits is the Snowdonia Mountain Range. The swirling waters beneath the dramatic views of the mountains is mesmerising.
In addition, Anglesey also has some fabulous beaches, along with pretty towns and villages. Another big attraction is one of the longest place names in Britain. Now there’s a tongue twister to get to grips with!
Saint Mary’s church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the church of St.Tysilio of the red cave!!
Some of the best North Wales beaches are found on the LLeyn Peninsula. This is where upmarket Abersoch with its long stretches of sandy beaches and colourful beach huts bursts into life each Summe.r
A little further along the coast is Criccieth, charming and laid back it’s also recognised for having a 13th Century Castle, perched about the sea.
Porthmadog, is another favourite, boasting miles of golden sands at Blackrock Sands beach. It’s also remembered as the home of T.E Lawrence of Arabia fame.
North Wales is home to so many fantastic adventure opportunities, it’s hard to know where to begin!
For a little taster, there’s high ropes in the forests above Betws-y-Coed or flying through the air at Zip World in Bethesda. This is the longest zip line in Europe and fastest in the world – racing up to speeds of 100mph!
Over in the Welsh slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog there’s Bounce Below. However, it’s not your usual indoor venue but actually a disused slate cavern!
Enter by train into the dark caverns, where giant nets await to happily bounce around. A 60ft slide, takes visitors on a slightly different thrill seeking experience!
How about white water rafting at the National White Water Rafting centre in Bala? Here, water is controlled by the upstream dam along the River Tryweryn, ensuring plenty of rapids to get you downstream.
There’s plenty of water activities to keep you entertained from canoeing to sea kayaking and coastal orienteering to windsurfing.
For those who prefer dry land, then choose from one of the 100KM mountain bike trails at Gwydir Forest in Betws-Y-Coed. Then there’s even rock climbing or abseiling, with several expert companies offering their services.
If you really want to get wet, Surf Snowdonia will get you surfing the waves at Britain’s only inland surfing lagoon. Not exactly what you’d expect to find in the picturesque and green Conwy Valley
Of course, North Wales is definitely rich in historic culture, some dating back to Roman times.
There have often been Roman finds across the region and there’s some good examples of ancient ruins. Such as Segontium, an Auxiliary Fort dating back to AD77, located at Caernarfon.
Caernarfon is also home to one of the best preserved castles in Wales. Dating back from the reign of Edward I but more recently famed for the investiture on 1st July 1969 of Prince Charles. Making him The Prince of Wales.
It was also birthplace to the first English Prince of Wales back in 1284.
Declared World Heritage Site status – the castles of King Edward I are a fascinating insight into this historic period.
The best examples are located at Caernarfon; Conwy; Beaumaris and Harlech. In addition you can see walled fortifications around the towns of Conwy and Caernarfon.
These magnificent structures take you back over 800 years leaving a lasting impression. Above all the incredible landmarks represent the landscapes they so proudly reside over for miles around.
Wales also has some pretty amazing bridges. Thomas Telford and his formidable Menai Suspension Bridge crossing the Menai straits is just one example of incredible engineering. There’s also the smaller Conwy Suspension Bridge, small maybe – but equally impressive.
One huge engineering feat is at the World Heritage site, Pontcysllte Aqueduct, near Llangollen. Here, you can walk along the canal path, 38.4 meters above the River Dee or take a leisurely horse drawn barge along the 200 year old waterway.
It’s close neighbour, Chirk Aqueduct is equally incredible. You can actually walk from one to the other if you’re energetic enough!
Wales, is the land of Music and you’ll never be far from musical influences such as the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. Here, every Summer world-wide audiences and some big name classical artists perform and compete in this renowned Welsh festival.
Then there’s the language, a country proud to have its own native tongue.
Welsh is the oldest language in Britain, with its roots dating back 4000 years. Not forgetting, more than a fifth of the population still speak or use the language today.
You’ll also see and hear lots of Welsh when you’re out and about. From road signs to information boards and even a TV channel – S4C.
It’s time to get practicing!
Bore Da – Good Morning
Diolch – Thanks
Da iawn – Very Good
Afon – River
Mynydd – Mountain
Tafarn – Pub
Llyn – Lake
Heulog – Sunny
Starting at the harbour in Porthmadog, the Ffestiniog Railway, climbs 700ft from the sea through to the Snowdonia Mountains towards the slate town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. It’s a relaxing journey taking people from coast to country.
The Welsh Highland offers a trip from Caernarfon to Porthmadog covering 40 miles of track. It’s a fascinating route, passing dramatic peaks of Snowdonia through the most stunning scenery.
Would you like to take a train trip to the Summit of Snowdon?
Yes it really can be done on the Snowdon Mountain Railway. Powered by either a steam or Diesel engine carriage from Llanberis, you’ll be able to reach the top of the mountain without breaking out into a sweat!
Finally, when you reach the top, you can hop off and mingle with those more energetic types. It can be a busy summit with hikers taking one of the walking routes to the 3,560ft Peak.
Llanberis Lake Railway in the heart of Snowdon country travels alongside the Llanberis Lake on the old slate route.
Offering beautiful views of Snowdon and the Snowdonia mountains, in good weather it’s absolutely spectacular.
Bala Lake Railway offers a 9 mile trip through Snowdonia National Park alongside Bala Lake. Enjoying stunning views and a Victorian signal box, it really is delightful!
If you want more of a tram than train ride, then the seaside town of Llandudno has a rather famous tram journey. Leading up the steep tramline tracks to the summit of the Great Orme Headland, saving those legs in the process.
Look out for the famous Great Orme Goats before soaking up the amazing views. There’s also a cafe and lots of walking trails to keep you entertained.
Bodnant Garden in the Conwy Valley is renowned for it’s superb gardens set around impressive ponds. Along with intricate corners, streams, neatly mowed lawns and famous Laburnum Arch, it’s simply fabulous when in bloom. There’s also incredible views across the rolling hills and mountains of the Conwy Valley.
North Wales has some magnificent National Trust properties.
Penrhyn Castle near Bangor is a beautiful, 19th century structure with elaborate plasterwork, carvings and an excellent model railway museum. It also has an unusual slate bed made for her majesty – Queen Victoria.
Across the Menai Straits from Penrhyn Castle is Plas Newydd.
This imposing, elegant Manor House is set on the banks of the Menai Straits and enjoys beautiful views. There’s also a selection of woodland walks and a superb Rex Whistler mural stretching across the elegant walls inside the castle. This is the largest of his work and sits beside various museum pieces dating from the Battle of Waterloo.
Erddig near Wrexham is a fascinating, early 18th century stately home, with excellent displays of life below stairs. It’s acclaimed to be one of Britain’s finest historic houses. That’s not all, outside are 1200 acres of country park and a walled garden to explore.
Aberconwy House in Conwy is thought to be the oldest house in Wales. Surely one historic building not to be missed not least because it combines Jacobean, Victorian and Georgian interiors!
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