The only times I've visited Wales in the past have been for family occasions. My brother married a Welsh girl from Powys, Mid Wales, and though they lived in Leeds, they married there and had their daughter's christening there so we travelled there for those events. Unfortunately, the marriage didn't last and his ex wife and daughter moved back to Wales. In later years we went back to Wales to visit my niece and for her 18th birthday celebrations but each time was to the same place. I wanted to see some other parts of Wales so to encourage me to book a trip I included it on my 50 before 50 list and it worked because we visited North Wales this weekend.
We stayed in the market town of Denbigh and it was a good base from which to travel around. We booked a deal on Wowcher, just £89 for two for two nights including breakfast and it also included an allowance of £15 per person towards a meal on the first night with a glass of wine each, though we had a £10 supplement for staying on a Saturday and we had an extra £10 per night to pay for Archie. It was a cracking deal though, the hotel was lovely, an old coaching inn dating back to the 17th century. Some of the features were quirky but this added to its charm and the food and hospitality was very good.
We didn't spend much time in Denbigh itself, which is a shame really as it looked to have lots of lovely shops and a castle and town walls.
There's lots of little snickets and alleyways where more shops are tucked out of view.
The high street with hills in the distance.
Mick had to work on Friday, he'd got an important meeting so he couldn't leave very early so it was late when we set off. We eventually arrived after 8pm so our first night was spent in the hotel. Saturday dawned bright and sunny so we set off in search of a beach. I've often heard Colwyn Bay mentioned so we decided that would be our first port of call. The beach area was very quiet and we managed to get parked right by the side of the sands without any problem at all. It's a beautiful beach, such a huge expanse of sand and shingle and Archie loved running around and darting in and out of the sea.
I usually do a bit of beachcombing when I'm at the seaside and there were plenty of interesting things to see here. How about a starfish?
Or some interesting seaweed? I haven't seen any seaweed like this before but there was plenty of it about.
I think something must have been having a good feed as there were quite a few dead crabs around.
When we'd tired Archie out we decided that we weren't all that far away from Anglesey so we'd have a drive there. We crossed from the mainland of Wales in to Anglesey by the Britannia Bridge. This bridge was built to provide a direct rail link between London and the port of Holyhead, and railway pioneer George Stephenson's son, Robert, was the chief engineer. The bridge was opened in 1850 but was greatly damaged in 1970 by a serious fire. It was partly rebuilt and in 1980, the upper road level was formally opened carrying a single carriageway section of the A55 road.
We couldn't believe the glorious weather we were having, we've been so lucky with these recent weekends away, both this time and a fortnight ago when we were Visiting The Offspring, so we headed to another beach. My auntie and uncle used to live in Benllech and though I never visited them there, I knew it was a seaside destination so we made our way there. It's another place with a huge expanse of sand and Archie loved spending some time in the rock pools as well as the sea.
Judging by the amount of caravans here, I think Benllech must be a popular holiday destination.
Wherever we were in Wales there was beautiful scenery, I loved this beach with the mountains in the background.
Before we crossed back in to mainland Wales I wanted to visit the place with the longest name in Europe and the second longest one word place name in the world. The long name was invented for promotional purposes in the 1860s and has fifty eight characters. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. This is the old railway station.
As we approached the bridge to cross back in to mainland Wales, we pulled in to a layby at the side of the Menai Strait where we could see the island Ynys Gorad Goch. There's a house built on the island and also the remains of fish traps which are no longer used. In the background you can see the snow capped Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales at an elevation of 1085 metres above sea level.
The Menai Suspension Bridge was built by Thomas Telford and was completed in 1826. It's a Grade 1 listed building. There was no fixed connection to the mainland before the completion of this bridge and the primary means of access to and from Anglesey was by ferry across the Menai Strait.
Driving across the Menai Bridge.
It was late afternoon by this time but there was still one place I wanted to visit. As we drove there, we passed through Snowdonia National Park. The scenery was spectacular.
Betws-y-Coed is the principal village of the Snowdonia National Park. It's surrounded by dense woodland and it's where the River Conwy meets its three tributaries flowing from the West, the Llugwy, the Lledr and the Machno.
The Swallow Falls waterfall is the most famous attraction nearby, however, as it was already early evening and darkness was starting to fall, we stayed in the village. It's somewhere we can visit when we return.
When we got back to our hotel, we once again had our evening meal there followed by a few drinks in the bar before retiring, very tired (me and Archie) to our room (I think Mick could have kept going).
We had a lovely full Welsh breakfast again on Sunday and I just need to mention here that I managed to cross something else off my 50 before 50 list. I'd asked for the black pudding to be left off my Welsh breakfast, however, it was on my plate when the waitress brought it out so I thought, oh well, I'll give it a try. Black pudding is something that I've never fancied knowing what it's made from (usually pigs blood mixed with fat and oatmeal) but I thought as it was there on my plate I'd give it a go. It reminded me of a slightly spicy sausage but I just couldn't get past the pigs blood element and so after eating about half of it I left the rest on my plate. It does count as trying a food I've never tried before though, so number 18 can now be crossed off my 50 Before 50 list.
After breakfast we decided to head back to Colwyn Bay so that Archie could have a last run on the beach, which he thoroughly enjoyed, and then we headed home.
We've all had a wonderful weekend and though it was only a short break, I think it's done us the world of good. Wales is a beautiful part of the UK, the scenery is spectacular, and it's somewhere I'd definitely like to visit again. As they say, a change is as good as a rest and I've had both this weekend.