Header Wales

Wales

We made a YouTube video of Betws-yCoed, Snowdonia National Park and Caernafon Castle. Click here to see it.

We also made a YouTube video of Rosslare Ferry to Cardiff Wales and Cardiff Castle. Click here to see it.

North WalesNorth Wales - From Lverpool, England, we travelled through North Wales on our way to Holyhead, to board the Irish Ferry. North Wales is divided into three traditional regions, Upper Gwynedd, Lower Gwynedd and Ynys Mon (or Anglesey), a large island off the north coast. The area of North Wales is 6,172 square km. The region is steeped in history and was for almost a millennium known as the Kingdom of Gwynedd. The mountainous stronghold of Snowdonia formed the nucleus of that realm and would become the last redoubt of independent Wales — only overcome in 1283. To this day it remains a stronghold of the Welsh language and a center for Welsh national and cultural identity.

 

Betws-y-Coed, North WalesBetws-y-Coed - We stopped in Betws-y-Coed and had an opportunity to walk about the peaceful setting and meander through the many shops. It is where the River Conwy meets its three tributaries flowing from the west, the Llugwy, the Lledr and the Machno. Much of it was built in Victorian times and it is the principal village of the Snowdonia National Park. It is set in a beautiful valley in the Snowdonia Forest Park and is surrounded by dense woodland. The beauty of the area is enhanced by cascading waterfalls, hill-top lakes, river pools and ancient bridges. Ever since the Victorian age artists have flocked to the area. The main street, Holyhead Road, has numerous inns and bed-and-breakfasts. Shops specialize in outdoor clothes and the tourist center provide maps and advice on day trips in the area. At the railway station is a Museum with a miniature railway, shop and restaurant. The old 14th century church of St Michael's is one of the oldest in Wales. Of interest are the many bridges in the area. Pont-y-Pair (the bridge of the cauldron), built in 1468, is buffeted by foaming water after heavy rain. A number of sign-posted walks in the surrounding countryside start near this bridge. A mile or so away is the Miner's Bridge, on the road to Capel Curig, where the miners crossed the river on a steep ladder to their work. Thomas Telford's iron Waterloo Bridge built in 1815, which carries the A5 across the River Conwy, bears the cast iron inscription "This arch was constructed in the same year the battle of Waterloo was fought". To see a YouTube video of our visit to Bdtws y Coed, Snodonia National Park and Caernarfon Castle, please click here.

Snowdonia National ParkSnowdonia National Park is located in northwest Wales and covers 823 square miles of diverse landscapes. Snowdonia National Park is a living working area, home to over 26,000 people. As well as being the largest National Park in Wales, Snowdonia boasts the highest mountain (Snowdon) in England and Wales. Snowdonia is an area steeped in culture and local history, where more than half its population speak Welsh. Snowdonia attracts thousands of visitors each year who enjoy its amazing beauty and the wealth of outdoor activities that are available. The peaks and moorland of Snowdonia provide a landscape of rugged beauty that seems to be imbued with a sense of mystery and magical charm.

 

Caernarvon Castle, WalesCaernarfon Castle - is one of the most famous castles in Wales (and there are a lot of them). It was built after Edward I's defeat of the last native Welsh prince. The castle overlooks the town and harbor of Caernarfon and just seems to "blend" in with the town and the Castle Square. The Edwardian town and castle acted as the administrative centre of north Wales and as a result the defenses were built on a grand scale. There was a deliberate link with Caernarfon's Roman past – nearby is the Roman fort of Segontium – and the castle's walls are reminiscent of the Walls of Constantinople. While the castle was under construction, town walls were built around Caernarfon. Despite Caernarfon Castle's external appearance of being mostly complete, the interior buildings no longer survive and many of the building plans were never finished. The town and castle were sacked in 1294 when Madog ap Llywelyn led a rebellion against the English. Caernarfon was recaptured the following year. During the Glyndŵr Rising of 1400–1415, the castle was besieged. When the Tudor dynasty ascended to the English throne in 1485, tensions between the Welsh and English began to diminish and castles were considered less important. As a result, Caernarfon Castle was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair. Despite its dilapidated condition, during the English Civil War Caernarfon Castle was held by Royalists, and was besieged three times by Parliamentarian forces. This was the last time the castle was used in war. Caernarfon Castle was neglected until the 19th century when the state funded repairs. In 1911, Caernarfon Castle was used for the investiture of the Prince of Wales, and again in 1969. It is part of the World Heritage Site "Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd"

Llanfair, WalesLlanfairpwllgwyngyll  We crossed the Britannia Bridge onto the Welsh Isle of Anglesey and entered the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll.  Llanfairpwllgwyngyll is the short version of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllg oge rychwyrndrobwllllant ysiliogogogoch. It has the longest place name in Europe and one of the longest place names in the world. It is commonly known as Llanfair or Llanfairpwll. It is the fifth largest settlement on the island by population. Visitors stop at the railway station to be photographed next to the station sign, visit the nearby Visitors' Centre, or have 'passports' stamped at a local shop. Another tourist attraction is the nearby Marquess of Anglesey's Column, which at a height of 89 ft offers views over Anglesey and the Menai Strait. Designed by Thomas Harrison, the monument celebrates the heroism of Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey at the Battle of Waterloo.

Port of Holyhead, WalesFerry at Holyhead Wales to Dublin Ireland - The Port of Holyhead is located on the Isle of Anglesey, North Wales. It  is a 24 hour, deep water, lock–free port situated on the Irish Sea and protected by an extensive breakwater.

We boarded the massive and modern Ulysses - the Irish Ferries' largest ship.  It had a nice bar, restaurant and comfortable lounge areas.  It was a smooth 3 hour and 15 minute cruise to Dublin.

Pembroke South Wales areaPembroke South Wales – We departed from Rosslare, Ireland, crossed  St. George’s Channel and arrived in Pembroke, South Wales, located on the Pembroke Peninsula. Our vessel was The Isle of Inishmore, a ship in the fleet of The Irish Ferries.  Although The Isle of Inishmore was not quite as large as the Ulysses ( the ship we took from Wales to Ireland),  it had the same comfort features and we had a pleasant four hour trip across St. George’s Channel. There was one difference, though. We felt a bit of “sway” and “rolling” for portions of the trip. We don’t know if this was due to rougher seas and/or the fact that we were on a smaller vessel. It was not a problem but it did make walking the ship corridors a little more ‘interesting”.  It could make one look like they “had one too many.”

Pembroke has quite a long history of human settlement. Although scattered artifacts dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages have been identified in Pembroke, credit for the first major impact on the site goes to the Normans. In 1093 the Normans arrived in Pembroke and established a wooden fortress on the site of the present Pembroke Castle. From this point on, the town developed rapidly. Standing on a narrow rocky ridge and surrounded by water on three sides by the tidal waters of the Haven Waterway, Pembroke presented the Normans with superb natural defenses and an ideal site for settlement. In 1189, work began on building a stone castle to replace the wooden fortification of 1093 – a job which was to continue for some 350 years! In 1456 Pembroke Castle became the birthplace of Henry VII – founder of the Tudor dynasty, and the first Welshman to wear the English crown, following the defeat of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Pembroke came into prominence during the Civil War when, in 1648, John Poyer, Mayor of the town declared for the King in spite of strong local support for the Parliament. Despite the trials and tribulations of the 17th century, Pembroke would become, in the words of Daniel Defoe, in his 3 volume work “A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain” published between 1724 and 1727 ‘the largest, the richest, and at this time the most flourishing town of all South Wales’. Today Pembroke is described as, “The pace of life is slower here, and the back-roads are pleasantly free of traffic. Lock up the car and explore this peaceful landscape by bike, horseback or on foot.”

Cardiff Castle, WalesCardiff Castle - is a medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion located on Castle Street in the heart of Cardiff, Wales.   It is right across the street from the Angel Hotel, which was our lodging while in Cardiff. The Angel shows its age in the size and furnishings of its rooms, but is a beautiful Victorian landmark with an elegant reception area, has a great location and it is a worthy enough place for a short stay.

Cardiff Castle has a colorful history that spans many years. Roman soldiers slept here, noble knights held court here, and later on the Bute family transformed the Castle into a romantic Victorian fantasy. The castle was commissioned by either William the Conqueror or by Robert Fitzhamon, and formed the heart of the medieval town of Cardiff and the Marcher Lord territory of Glamorgan. In the 12th century, the castle began to be rebuilt in stone, probably by Robert of Gloucester, with a shell keep and substantial defensive walls being erected. Further work was conducted by Richard de Clare in the second half of the 13th century. Cardiff Castle was repeatedly involved in the conflicts between the Anglo-Normans and the Welsh, being attacked several times in the 12th century, and stormed in 1404 during the Owain Glyndŵr rebellion. The Herbert family took over the property in 1550, remodeling parts of the main range and carrying out construction work in the outer bailey. In the mid-18th century, Cardiff Castle passed into the hands of the Marquesses of Bute.  John Stuart, the first Marquess, employed Capability Brown and Henry Holland to renovate the main range, turning it into a Georgian mansion, and to landscape the castle grounds, demolishing many of the older medieval buildings and walls.  The 3rd Marquess, late in the nineteenth century, commissioned  architect William Burges who was given free rein to create the amazingly lavish and opulent interiors; each breathtaking room rich with murals, stained glass, gilding and superb craftsmanship. The rooms are amazingly ornate and a feast for the eyes. There is so much detail, that you can get lost in one part of a room and only realize what you’ve missed in another part of the room, when you look at your photographs later on. To see our YouTube video of the Rosslare Ferry to Cardiff Wales and Cardiff Castle please click here .

We've been doing our web site for many years. Some technology comes and goes... Here are some links to flash slide shows that can be viewed on a PC but are no longer supported on iPhone or Android devices. Back when these slide shows were made, there was no way to add music... So for some silent slide shows...

Please click here to see our Best of the British Isles slideshow.