When I was 16 I wrote an autobiographical term paper for my English class called “Wales, the Land of Song.” Little could I imagine that 20 years later I would be flying over the moors of Wales in a tour bus listening to a guide crooning lullabies in Welsh.
We embarked on our Welsh Adventure for one day as part of Cunard’s 175th Anniversary Queen Mary 2 stop in Liverpool. Our one day excursion promised us a tour of Conwy Castle in Conwy, Wales and several hours in the outdoorsy village of Betws-y-Coed.
Our bus sailed past a verdant coastline and little churches to arrive at picturesque Conwy, Wales. This little resort town has pretty much everything a traveler could desire: breathtaking sea views, charming architecture, sweet shops, a sweeping broad and changeable sky and a well-preserved castle from the time of Edward I (1283-1289). The walls of the castle enclose the town of Conwy in a bear hug of stone.
The castle is an incredible place to investigate. It is easy to imagine Edward’s orders to build it to reinforce his power in Wales. Although an excellent addition to his “iron ring” of castles, as a Welsh descendent, I could not help but smile when I saw the Welsh flag flying over the towers. I can only imagine Edward’s reaction to that!
Be forewarned, the ramp up to the castle is quite a steep incline and there are many large stone lintels and uneven surfaces that gave some of the older guests trouble to navigate. But persevere and you will not be disappointed! We had a wonderful time peeking around corners and through the windows of the castle. It does not take a lot of imagination to get a sense of dwelling in its dark walls.
You are allowed to tour Conwy Castle at your own pace. LOML and I took advantage of this, taking our time to look at the remains of Edward’s private chambers, the chapel, and the towers.
It is interesting that Edward I allegedly stayed in this castle only once. But surely his presence was felt was always palpable to the administrators and servants that lived here.
Although the castle itself is impressive, I could not help but be drawn to the windows. The view of Conwy bay is stunning.
After touring the interior, step outside and view the castle bridge and valley from a small outcropping. You are also welcome to climb up a very steep, very narrow spiral staircase in the tower with teeny tiny steps and nothing but a rope to give you leverage so that you can walk the upper walls of the castle. LOML, my fierce knight was able to do this. I got 2/3 of the way up and then realized that I would probably fall down the shaft trying to descend. So the very adventurous height lovers are all welcome to try this!
After touring the castle, we walked through the town of Conwy. A resort town, it is filled with charming bed and breakfasts and little shops. We also saw many signs for tea, fish & chips, and bakeries.
Walk down the street leading from the castle and pop into the shops you fancy!
We also stopped to gaze in the window of what is the most beautiful little gem of a bakery we’ve ever seen.
Hook a right at the Tan Lan Bakery and walk down an alley way to the beach front. There are spots to sit and enjoy the sun, watch the boats bob on the water, and get an ice cream. It’s so pretty, you’ll almost forget about the castle.
While Conwy boasts one of the best preserved monumental structures in Great Britain, it also has a second architectural claim to fame: the smallest house in Britain. Facing out on the bay, you will be able to see its bright red exterior from the beach. A very touristy situation was arranged for paid entrance into the little house, so we just enjoyed looking at it from the outside.
Leaving the beach, we walked up the hilly side streets filled with shops.
We left Conwy around 1:00 PM…in search of sheep and Betws-y-Coed. Stay tuned for my next post: Touring the Welsh Countryside.