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The Long Journey to Llandudno 7 Sept 2011
6-7 September 2011 Llandudno Wales
Llandudno: A Planned Resort Town
Thursday 8 Sept 2011-09-08
night was a decidedly young crowd of locals at the Palladium, one of the
few drinking spots still serving at 11:30 PM. The guys were dressed very
casually, the girls were fashionistas in high heels and very short
skirts. This morning we were no longer the oldest in the crowd. The
first hint was the number of people with walkers, canes and wheelchairs.
I estimated the average age of the tourists to be at least 70. Families
with children had returned home and bus tours of seniors had come to
fill the gap. We had all Thursday to explore the charms of Llandudno,
one of the most popular seaside resorts in Wales.
Llandudno sits at the base of a small peninsula jutting into the Irish Sea. The Mostyn family were the wealthiest 19th century landowners in Wales, except for the Crown. The Victorian era was in full swing and seaside holidays were high on every wealthy families list. Helped by the Enclosure Acts, which the Mostyn family championed, tenants on the former town common were relocated and the land was bought up. Llandudno Bay, a broad curve two miles long, anchored on the northern end by the rocky promontory, the Great Orme, and on the southern end by the smaller Little Orme Head, was the perfect spot for a model resort community. Plans were made in 1849 for the Mostyn family by a Liverpool surveyor, Owen Williams. A broad promenade was built over the shingle banks of Llandudno Bay, later enhanced by a broad Marine drive enabled visitors to enjoy the sea view on foot or by carriage. A line of hotels sprung up in a wide curve facing the bay, lots were sold and building of holiday homes progressed over the next number of years. The town center consisted of broad avenues laid in a grid pattern, unlike the narrow village roads morecommon at that time. Restaurants and shops opened to service the tourists who came in droves. The ½ mile long Llandudno Pier, considered a Victorian marvel of wrought iron and wood opened in 1876. The cable-drawn Great Orme Tramway, built in 1902, enabled tourists to enjoy the view from the top of Great Orme.
Today most of the elegant three story Victorian homes have been converted into B&Bs and small hotels. I estimate there are more B&Bs per square mile in Llandudno than any other town in the UK. We stayed in one of them. The modern trip to the top of Great Orme is a ride in a cable car but the high winds and end of the summer season had forced its closure. It was even too windy for us to consider walking up Great Orme. We contented ourselves with strolls on the promenade and the pier and having lunch in town. This was a day to relax and battle the inevitable jetlag.
Friday 9 Sept 2011
stop was in Beaumaris Castle begun in 1295 by King Edward I to guard
against the marauding Welsh. After 30 years of construction, Edward got
distracted by the now warring Scots and never finished the castle.
Considered the most technically medieval castle in Britain, it is now a
World Heritage site. We spent an hour or so wandering the ruins and
enjoying the views of the Irish Sea from the ramparts. Our timing to
enjoy the many concerts on offer in Wales is off. We missed several
performances by Welsh choirs in Llandudno and workmen were at Beaumaris
setting up for an open-air Opera and Orchestra concert inside the castle
grounds. I hope the threatening rain holds off for tonight’s
We bought sandwiches for a picnic lunch and carried on around the island on winding country roads. We were going to go all the way to Holyhead but I directed Ray on the wrong turnoff part way around and we headed across the island. It didn’t really matter. We still enjoyed the sheep in the fields and the quiet roads. We only wish we had time to explore the multitude of walking trails that continually crossed the roads.
Lunch ended up being in the parking lot of a beach surrounded by sand dunes. Several other cars were taking advantage of the location for their lunch break. An added bonus was a walking trail leading to the end of a promontory where burial chamber dating from 2500 BC has been discovered. We walked the short distance to peer through locked gates at a series of standing stones inside a large chamber beneath what was originally an earth mound. It looked very interesting. Guided tours can be arranged on weekends and Bank Holidays but again our timing was wrong.
Caernarfon to Harlech
10 Sept 2011
Caernarfon Castle, on the banks of the River Seiont, is nothing to be trifled with. Edward I built his massive stone fortress to withstand attacks from the marauding Welsh and as a suitable home for the Head of England whenever he visited Wales. In fact, the son of Edward I was born in Caernarfon Castle in 1284 and Prince Charles was invested as the Prince of Wales in the castle in 1969.
World heritage Site, the castle is certainly impressive. We climbed to
the top of two towers for the view and read the history of the castle in
the excellent presentation room in the Eagle Tower. We had just an hour
to tour and I wished we had more time. Instead we did a grocery shopping
in the large Morrison Grocery and headed south through the Snowdonia.
the more scenic route to Harlech right past the base of Mt Snowdon, the
highest mountain in Wales, rather than the more direct route. It wasn’t
a day for hiking. The clouds were low over the mountains totally
obscuring the top and the few hikers we saw were soaked from the rain.
Luckily the rain stopped long enough for us to stop and take a photo of
the narrow-gauge Welsh Highland Railway pass by one of the craggy peaks
next to the road.
were in Harlech where we met up with six of our group who had arrived
before us. The time for renewing our acquaintance with our friends had
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