Trek to North Wales: 10 Adventures For Everyone

Llandudno
Llandudno

A Personal Love

I won't lie, Wales is generally not the most sought after place for Americans while they're going on their travels. Generally, when I tell people that's where I'm taking my vacation, they have to clarify exactly where it is.

Here is a little bit of my personal history with Wales, which is why I love it so much, and it will always be a place of destination for me, as well as highly recommended.

I was very lucky growing up in that my mother is English. I don't just mean has English blood, but full on, born and raised, English. By string of logic, this also means her parents are English. My Granny, when she was a very little girl used to go on holiday to North Wales. Every summer, that was where she spent her time off from school with her sisters and brother. When they all grew up and had families of their own, they carried on the tradition.

As I said before, I was very lucky. Each summer, my mother too, carried out this activity. By this time, my grandmother and her sisters all had had summer homes in North Wales - more specifically, Abersoch, and moved into them. And it was with my Granny, on the top of a hill overlooking the beach, that I spent almost every summer since I was 18 months old.

When I graduated from high school, I had already decided long before that I would move to Wales and be a writer. And so I did, though my writing at the time was just for me.

I spent four years In Abersoch, and a little bit of time in Criccieth, before I moved back to my home town. It is still the place that I go to visit when I can gather the funds, and I reckon it always will be.

Where is Wales?

A markerNorth Wales -
Wales, UK
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The Marker is more toward South Wales, but essentially from just a little ways west from liver pool down to just east of Cardiff is Wales in the UK

View of Criccieth from Criccieth Castle
View of Criccieth from Criccieth Castle
Abersoch Beach
Abersoch Beach
show route and directions
A markerCriccieth, North Wales -
Criccieth, Gwynedd, UK
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B markerAbersoch, North Wales -
Abersoch, Gwynedd, UK
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C markerLlandudno, Nroth Wales -
Llandudno, Conwy, UK
[get directions]

The Mad Hatter and the Door Mouse in Llandudno
The Mad Hatter and the Door Mouse in Llandudno

Must Visit Villages, Towns and Cities

There are a thousand quaint little places that would all be fulfilling to see in their own little way, so I'll save you some time, and recommend some of my personal favorites.

  1. Criccieth
    The time I spent here was mainly to get away from the village I had been living in. I found it's tiny high street filled with local art, small grocers, crystal shops and so on - to be the mask of what it truly was.
    It is the home of Cadwalader's Ice Cream, a famous brand of ice cream with flavors I dream about! It is highly recommended that this shop be found in Criccieth, opposed to its other outlets. It perches on a cliff overlooking the bay and most importantly, overlooking Criccieth Castle.
    This is not all Criccieth's glory. As I said before, it is a quaint village, and one must not overlook the tea room just off the high street. I wouldn't recommend it for lunch, but it is certainly worth your tea hour to have one of their whole wheat walnut scones! Being an avid proper English scone lover, I have yet to have better!
  2. Abersoch
    This village is the one which captured the heart of my great grandparents and began my family's tradition. It is a little tiny village with a permanent population of less than 1,000 people, yet still heaves during the summer at an average of 20,000!
    People come from all over for the sailing races and the surf.
    The beach has fine white sand, and is lined with colorful huts either owned or rented by families to store their beach goodies in. During August the beach is covered in sailboats, and the evenings yield the soothing scents of beach barbecues.
    The water is fairly warm and on either end of Abersoch beach are ice cream huts to acts as the cherry on the sundae called Perfect Beach Day.
    Abersoch has many fine places to eat and is perfect for shopping. Scattered all around are activities for the younger generations such as horse riding, pottery painting, sailing classes, archery classes, a bunny zoo and so on. One mustn't forget crab fishing off the jetty just below the Yacht club!
  3. Llandudno
    Here is the nearest large city. The painted coiling of the fixed awning-support puts you the in the mind of being int he late 1800's as you peruse the streets and mill about down to the board walk that overlooks the seafront. Statues of characters from Alice in Wonderland can been seen throughout the town, and the city's history tells it's visitors stories along the way.

Criccieth Castle
Criccieth Castle
Inside Caenarfon Castle
Inside Caenarfon Castle

Castles

There is something to be said about castles: everywhere has them but here in the US. That doesn't make them any less amazing though! Here are some must- see castle to explore while you're in North Wales.

  1. Criccieth Castle
    I know! I already talked about Criccieth - but I feel like it's castle is a great starting point, especially if stairs are not your thing. It perches on top of a hill at the end of a mini peninsula. Be careful though! It can be quite blustery!
    There are a few trails which lead around the castle, but once you reach the inside, you can see the layout of what once was.
  2. Caenarfon Castle
    If you ask any tourist that has been to North Wales, the first thing they will tell you is to visit this castle. It is one of the most whole-remaining castles in Wales, and still gets put to use from time to time. Tours are available, however, the adventurous traveler can wander the castle at their own free will, should their feet desire it.
    Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time! We gave ourselves two hours which only got us through a quarter of it!
    You will be able to climb up the towers, find little servants' quarters, see where the royalty had their bed and fire, as well as visit the museum which gives a full history through to modern days.
    It was here that that Prince Charles was made the Prince of Wales in 1969.
  3. Conwy Castle
    If you manage Caenarfon Castle, then you will surely enjoy Conwy Castle. It is slightly less complete, though with beautiful views from the towers, and should you wander in on the right day, you will see knights and wizards, and even messenger falcons and owls!
  4. Aberystwyth Castle
    This castle is purely ruins. However, it is a free site to visit, right along the beach of Aberystwyth, closer to Mid Wales. I have always loved visiting these ruins. They still have the foundation of outlines the floor plans of the castle, and even has a little mini stone circle in the center.

show route and directions
A markercriccieth castle -
Criccieth Castle, Castle Street, Criccieth, Gwynedd LL52 0DP, UK
[get directions]

B markercaernarfon castle -
Caernarfon Castle, Castle Ditch, Caernarfon, Gwynedd LL55 2AY, UK
[get directions]

C markerConwy castle -
Conwy Castle, Rose Hill Street, Conwy, Wales LL32 8AY, UK
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D markerAberystwyth castle -
Aberystwyth Castle, New Promenade, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 2AU, UK
[get directions]

show route and directions
A markerllanystumdwy -
Llanystumdwy, Gwynedd LL52, UK
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B markerllanbedrog -
Llanbedrog, Gwynedd, UK
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C markerhell's mouth, north wales -
Rhiw, Hell's Mouth (NE-bound, Unmarked), Pwllheli, Gwynedd LL53, UK
[get directions]

Porth Ceiriad is also known as Hell's Mouth, though is separated

Llanystumdwy Bluebells - this doesn't even do it justice!
Llanystumdwy Bluebells - this doesn't even do it justice!

Walks

Wales is an all-over lush green land with many inspirational walks. As my grandmother is a great fan of "dog walks" which take us to interesting places, I got to know a fair few.

  1. Llanystumdwy
    This is my absolute favorite place to walk. It was 45 minutes and three buses for me to get there when I was driving, from Aberosoch, but it was certainly worth it!
    As you turn off the main road toward the little lane that takes you into this petite village, you come to a bridge. Parking anywhere near there will allow you access to the trails which go along the brook, and into the woods.
    I cannot stress this enough - the all around best time to go there is in April, or if you are very lucky, May. This is when the bluebells come out - and in full force!
    This walk is where fairies dwell. It is an artist's dream, and a writer's paradise for inspiration. I have come across many classes of many subjects which have taken field trips to this location.
    The spring fills your lungs with a freshness that differs from the salty air the ocean provides. When your walk comes to a close, you feel rejuvenated and cleansed.
  2. Llanbedrog Head
    This can be windy! There are many paths which take you to this point which stretches out into the bay. It is rocky, so be sure to have good shoes on, and there is no shelter for there are hardly any trees once you get closer to the top. Depending on which direction you come from, it can be a difficult walk to get to the top, though there are some easier, more gradual inclines. The views of Abersoch to the right and Llanbedrog onto Pwllheli are fantastic - especially if you go while the leaves are changing. If it is times just right, and the wind has dropped, it's a fantastic location for a picnic.
    Be ware of the Tinman, who guards Llanbedrog! He will be lurking about, and watching for you!
  3. Porth Ceiriad
    This is a walk to a beach. You will find yourself parking in what appears to be the middle of a sheep field. The path takes you up and down the general roll of the land until you reach a cliff. From this cliff there is a long set of stairs which leads down to the beach.
    I used to walk this all the time when I was younger, though haven't been in at least ten years. It is a magnificent walk and the beach gives way for plenty of great surfing!

Linguistic Help

Here's some tips to help you along the way with your Welsh:

  • DD's make a "Th" sound as in "Them" opposed to "thistle"
  • W's are a "oo", and count as a vowl
  • F's make a "v" sound.
  • Ff's make an "F" sound
  • Ll's make a hissing under the back of your tongue noise, almost like a click, but not quite.

I hope you are able to make it to Wales. There are a great many other wonderful things to do that I didn't begin to touch on. It is certainly worth any one's time, if for nothing else but to enjoy a relaxing view and to try out the Welsh lamb, and perhaps attempt the language too!

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