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After recently visiting Conwy on a very rainy day last week with my Girlfriend, my views of this town in North Wales were initially dampened. However, as the rain gave way to some welcoming sunshine my eyes began to open as to the appeal of this small yet interesting town. The main focus of our day was Conwy Castle which was around £9.00 for the two of us. With some very interesting facts as to how the castle was built and captured by a Welsh insurgent, the tour of the castle takes around an hour to an hour and a half and is a must when visiting Conwy. Following on from this we then decided to walk through the town itself which has a very touristic feel with quaint little shops as well as some excellent tea rooms one of which we stopped in for a lovely toasted sandwich. Boat tours are available from the Quay every hour and are reasonably priced and just a short walk down the Quay will lead you to the UK's smallest house.
A delightful medievel town with friendly people however, there is not as much to do here as there is in other neighbouring towns.
Conwy, my home town, often incorrectly called Conway (the way English used to say it, I'm English, I used to say Conway too) is on the north west coast of Wales, in Conwy County Borough. There is often confusion as to which county Conwy belongs, frequently referred to as Gwynedd where it used to lay, but Conwy is now a county in its own right.
Conwy castle is a magnificent structure that dominates the town, that and its medieval walls were built in around 1283, under the orders of Edward the 1st, I believe to keep out the Welsh!
What can you do in Conwy? Well if its history you're after, then your in luck, other than the castle, and the walls which you can walk, there is Plas Mawr, built in the 16th century, Bodysgallen Hall near Conwy, that dates from the 17th Century and the famous suspension bridge which you cross for a small price.
On the quay is Britain's smallest house, which I have never been in (I fear I wont fit) and if you travel a little out of Conwy you will come across the ancient Sychnant pass that backs onto Snowdonia , where you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of wild ponies that come from Snowdonia! If you carry on going you will pass through Dwygyfylchi (my home, just don't try to pronounce it). The pass is magnificent, you can park at one of the many parking points and walk up the mountain if you have the energy, if not just stare out at the beauty that lies before you. You can walk for miles up the mountain road, and I hear you can walk all the way back to Conwy town, over the hills, (I haven't tried it, sounds hard).
You can also go horse riding into Snowdonia, shopping is good in conwy and nearby towns or golfing in Dwygyfylchi, or go into nearby Llandudno and go up the Great Orme in a cable car!
Bus services aren't too bad around the town, but don't try and get into the hills by bus, it's harder, and the buses are irregular going up near Dwygyfylchi.
Conwy is a wonderful place to visit, with the sea on once side and the mountains on the other, what more could anyone ask for?
Having lived in north Wales for 10 years now, I thought it was about time I started writing opinions about the area. I wrote an opinion about North Wales in general many months ago but haven’t written one since. As its now Summer I thought now was as good a time as any! So, here I am. Why did I decide to write about Conwy? Do I live there? Well, nope, I live in Rhos on Sea which is about 5 miles away from Conwy. The reason why I’ve decided to write an opinion about Conwy is because its been cropping up in my life quite a bit recently. As many of you know, I’m into the paranormal. Conwy, being an old walled town has its fair share of ghost stories. Its even said to be cursed. More on this later…. Anyway, like I said, its been cropping up in my life quite a bit recently. It was only a few days ago when a paranormal researcher from Ireland contacted me about a case he’s researching in Conwy. He contacted me for help on a certain aspect. I helped him all I could. He’s coming over to see the people affected by this case in a few weeks time and we’re hoping to meet up then. He’d been enquiring about ley lines in and around Conwy. I knew there were some and it would be logical to assume they run by, if not through the impressive Castle. I didn’t know for sure though. I looked on a map and tried figuring out where they may lie. I was going to go and dowse for them too and intend on doing this sometime soon. That was until last night (Thursday) when I went for my weekly class in paranormal investigator training. Guess what topic we studied? Yup, that’s right, ley line mapping! Needless to say, I’ve got the maps out right this second along with pieces of string, compasses, protractors, etc, etc! Hence I decided to start my “plug North Wales widely” series of opinions by an opinion about Conwy! = = = Background = = = Con
wy, being an historic, walled town complete with its most famous land mark, Castell Conwy, or, in English, Conwy Castle. You can’t fail to miss the Castle. The main route into Conwy (from the A55) takes you over a bridge directly next to the Castle! = = = History = = = Conwy Castle was constructed by the English monarch Edward I between 1283 and 1289 as one of the key fortresses in his 'iron ring' of castles to contain the Welsh. A distinguished historian wrote of Conwy, 'Taken as a whole, Conwy's incomparably the most magnificent of Edward I's Welsh fortresses'. In comparison to other great Edwardian castles it is also relatively straightforward in design, a reflection of the inherent strength of its siting. It is because of this that there are no concentric 'walls within walls' here. They simply were not needed. Conwy Castle is a World Heritage Inscribed site. The views from the battlements are breathtaking looking out across mountains and sea and down to the roofless shell of the castles 125ft Great Hall. It is from these battlements that visitors can best appreciate Conwy's other great glory, its ring of town walls. Conwy is the classic walled town. Its circuit of walls, over three quarters of a mile long and guarded by no less than 22 towers, is one of the finest in the World. (For a tour of these please see the Links section at the end of this opinion). I’ll be writing an opinion specifically about the Castle within the next couple of weeks so I wont bother listing much more information about it or any admission fees or anything. Keep your eyes peeled for the follow-up op! = = = Other attractions = = = ~ The marina ~ If you’re into boats you could always take a stroll alongside the marina. Its not hugely impressive and you can’t walk amongst the boats unless you’ve got a key/perm
issio n to go down amongst them but it’s a nice walk regardless. ~ Butterfly Garden ~ Having never been to this location myself I’m afraid I can’t write a vast deal about it. I can pretty much only relay what is on the website about it so if you’re interested please see: http://www.conwy-butterfly.co.uk/more.htm Admission Rates Adults £3.50 Children £2.00 (16 years and under) 3 years of age and under are free Seniors £3.00 Students £2.00 Opening Times Daily April to September 10.00am - 5.30pm October 10.00am - 4.00pm A friend of mine has been here though and she assures me it’s a good place to visit so you’ll have to take her word for it, not mine! ~ Smallest house in Britain ~ When you think about it, it’s a bit of a con this is. You have to pay to get into something that is clearly labelled “smallest”! Don’t be disappointed when it only takes you 5 minutes maximum to look around! It is a Victorian House measuring just 122” in height and 72” in width. Being a one up, one down system you’d think you’d find a flight of stairs wouldn’t you? I’m afraid not. There’s not enough room! You’re greeted with a ladder! There’s always someone dressed up in the traditional Welsh dress (hat ‘n’ all) outside the door hoping to take your money! You don’t get much for your money but its only 50p so I guess its not too bad! For a photograph and contact details please see: http://www.northwales4all.co.uk/Attractions/Britains%20Smallest%20House.htm ~ Shops ~ Don’t get overly excited. Its not a huge town and hence there aren’t many shops. The largest store in town would probably be that of a Woolworths and even then, its pretty small! There are quite a few touri
sty type s hops selling the normal tourist attraction type things. There are also quite a few shops selling crystals and other ‘new age’ type things. Other shops tend to be your normal newsagents, food shops, book shops, etc. But there again, there aren’t many so you couldn’t spend a whole day just shopping. You’ll need to either go to another town or visit other attractions in Conwy. Which leads me nicely onto…. = = = Historical attractions = = = Obviously the Castle is the main one but like I said, I’ll be writing about the Castle separately soon so I won’t say too much about that just yet. Other attractions mainly consist of other historical sites. ~ Plas Mawr ~ This is the finest surviving Elizabethan town house in Britain. As with the Castle, I shall be writing an opinion about this place in itself within the next few weeks so I don’t want to write too much about it in this opinion. I’ll give you a brief background but leave all the finer details until the more specific opinion. Owned and run by CADW, this building is open to the public and, like many similar locations, you can pick up leaflets/booklets about the place, take guided tours around the house, go on audio tours and buy souvenirs from the shop. Keep your eyes peeled over the coming week for a more detailed opinion about this place. ~ Aberconwy House ~ As there currently is no category for this on dooyoo just yet I’ll write all the details in this opinion rather than having you sit on the edge of your seats waiting for dooyoo to add the category! Aberconwy House, owned and run by the National Trust, dates back to the 14th century. It is one of the oldest houses in Wales. Despite this though, over the six centuries it has remained remarkably unchanged. It has been restored and each room shows a differen
t moment in tim e, reflecting the taste and character of some of the families who once lived there. The National Trust shop is open daily all year (minus December 25th and 26th) Admission fee’s are as follows: Adult: £2.20 Child: £1.10 Family: £5.50 Group: £1.80 National Trust members: free Opening times: Open from March 29th – November 2nd from 11-5pm (closed on Tuesdays) You can contact them directly here: Aberconwy House, Castle Street, Conwy, LL32 8AY (01492) 592246 Below Aberconwy House is the National Trust shop. You can get in here from the street and hence not have to pay. Sadly, you’ll have to pay to look around the house itself. (Well, unless you’re a National Trust member of course!) More information: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/scripts/nthandbook.dll?ACTION=PROPERTY&PROPERT YID=136 = = = Food & drink = = = There's plenty of places to eat in Conwy from the oh-so-traditional chippies to pubs. You're bound to find somewhere in Conwy. = = = Getting to Conwy = = = As mentioned earlier, the easiest route into Conwy is that of the A55 over the suspension bridge right passed the Castle. There's a train station in Conwy but its not dead central. Buses are all pretty regular and are normally (but not always....) on time! = = = Conwy’s Curse = = = Stand on Telford`s suspension bridge at Conwy, look down into the river, and you will see how treacherous it can be. Conwy after all, is a town under a curse. It is said that, before the building of Conwy Castle, a group of fishermen were casting their nets in the river, when they saw a remarkable sight. There in the net was a creature with long black hair and a fishlike tail. The fishermen had heard of such creatures and great danger was associated with them. They then s
aw the look of fear in her eyes, and decided there was no danger. They hauled her into the boat, and took her into the town. Many people came to see her, as she begged and begged to be returned to the sea, but the men decided they were going to keep her. But keeping her out of water was to her, a long lingering death. As she died she cursed the people of Conwy, and vowed that there would be many drowning in the river, diseases and disasters in the town. No one knows what became of the fishermen, but in 1806 the ferry from the east bank of the river capsized drowning everyone. Of course the mermaids curse was blamed. On the spot where the mermaid died the old town hall was built, it burned down in 1966. It was then developed into a library and civic centre but within two months had burned down again, and the mermaid's laughter was said to be heard. Rebuilding was undertaken again, and so far the building seems unaffected by the curse. = = = Interesting point = = = Whilst in Conwy take a trip to the graveyard. I know, I'm morbid! *But* in there you'll find a strange looking grave (by the Church itself) with the words "We are Seven" on it. I had to research this for my paranormal investigation training a few weeks back. Its quite interesting, let me tell you! ;o) = = = Links = = = Tour the town of Conwy: http://www.conwy-wales.com/towntour/townwalk1.htm Walk the walls of Conwy: http://www.conwy-wales.com/walltour/walk1.htm
As you probably know by now we moved to North Wales last year to live in Llandudno. It's a beautiful area with plenty of places within easy reach for days out and Conwy is one of them, so I'd better tell you all about it! Conwy is west of Llandudno, sheltered by the Great Ormes Head and looking out towards Anglesey and Puffin Island. The most striking thing about Conwy is the castle, built by Edward I as the third of his Welsh fortresses. It is built on a strategic site on the Conwy estuary giving it river, sea and land defences. The castle consists of an inner and outer ward surrounded by eight drum towers, which are all linked to one another by a high wall. The four easternmost towers have extra turrets as this was the residential area of the castle and thus needed more protection. The views from the walls and the towers are magnificent and it is easy to see why this was such a strategic defence position. The sight of the castle greets you as you approach Conwy from the east on the A55, over the newest of the three bridges spanning the Conwy estuary. The first bridge was built in 1826 by Thomas Telford and is a lovely suspension bridge. I always think that, because of its position next to the castle, it looks as though it's the drawbridge! It is only open to pedestrians nowadays since the second road bridge was built in 1956. The third bridge is Stephenson's tubular Railway Bridge and was completed in 1848. Conwy boasts the smallest house in Great Britain and it was actually lived in until the early 1900's. It is a Victorian house measuring just 122 inches in height and 72 inches in width! It is a one up, one down - cooking was done on the open fire, the settle doubled as a coal bunker and the water tap was under the stairs. I use the term stairs loosely - it is just a ladder for you to climb and look into the bedroom above. It is an amazing place to have a look at and ladies dressed in Welsh Nation
al Dress take the entrance money of £1 per person and limit the amount of people trying to get in at any one time! I would guess no more than five - and even that would be cosy! By the way I never did find the loo ....... I haven't actually been in the castle yet but have had a walk along the north-west section of the town wall, from where you get a fantastic view of the surrounding area. You can see the castle (obviously!) and the estuary beyond and, in the other direction, the foothills of the Snowdonian Mountains. The town's finest building apart from the castle is arguably the Plas Mawr, a stately gabled mansion built by an Elizabethan adventurer in 1577. It is now owned and maintained by the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art. The house is reputedly haunted so beware! Conwy is a paradise for historians and architects alike having over 200 listed buildings, the oldest of which is Aberconwy House dating back to 14th century. It is a half-timbered, stone fronted building, which was built by a prosperous merchant. It now houses an exhibition showing Conwy through the ages, including a traditional 18th century kitchen - no microwave here! There are plenty of little shops here in Conwy if you fancy a good mooch round, or you can go down to the quayside where there are always boats coming and going be it pleasure craft or working fishing boats. Talking of shops the chip shop in the main street does the best chips for miles around and the ice cream shop also in the main street makes ice cream especially for diabetics! Conwy is definitely well worth a visit if you're in the area, but it does get very crowded in the height of season and the footpaths are quite narrow which is a disadvantage!
I've always had a fascination with walled towns and Conwy has been a particular favourite of mine since childhood. I've come to appreciate it even more in recent years since the construction of a bypass eased the worst of the traffic congestion that had blighted the town for decades, and I'd recommend the town to anybody who appreciates a place that is determined to live its life at its own pace. If you're driving into the town and are expecting to breeze into a multi-storey facility where you can leave the car, forget it - parking in Conwy is very much a lottery and can be nigh on impossible during the peak weeks. There is limited space on the harbour, to the south and to the west of the castle and immediately outside the railway station but demand usually exceeds supply and it may be an idea to park up outside the railway station at Llandudno Junction and instead walk the relatively short distance across the famous suspension bridge that was built by Thomas Telford and opened in 1826 - there's even a Telford exhibition centre that's worth a visit on the way into town. It is now possible to reach Conwy by train again, though the beautiful Victorian railway station that originally served the town was short-sightedly demolished in the 1960s (thanks, Dr Beeching!) and the facility that has been built to replace it is little more than up and down platforms, each with a shelter, and there isn't even a connecting footbridge, each platform served by a seperate entrance gate! For such a relatively small town there is plenty to explore within the walls and the immediate environs and it is inevitably the castle that is the dominating feature. There are plenty of enclosed passages to explore, some of them quite labyrinthine, and the grassed areas within the Outer and Inner Wards and the East Barbican are ideal picnic spots, but it is the views from the castle's eight towers that are its crow
ning glory - my favourites are those from the King's Tower across the estuary and from the Kitchen Tower across the town itself. A word of warning though: the towers and the ramparts that connect them have very low retaining walls and children should be supervised at all times. It's worth checking wih the castle's staff about special events that are sometimes staged there too because the period minstrels and outdoor theatre companies that occasionally perform there will always make a visit extra special. The walls that enclose the town can also be walked for the greater part but again the warning about letting children run free applies - the walls on the western edge of the town in particular are precipitous in the extreme. If period buildings are your thing, you'll have to check out Aberconwy House on the corner of Castle Street and High Street and Plas Mawr which nestles between High Street and Crown Lane, the former a National Trust-owned 14th century merchant's house and the latter a Cadw-owned Elizabethan town house, while art students should visit the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art Gallery on the High Street, particularly in the summer when it hosts an annual open exhibition which has been running for well over a century. The harbour is small but generally very busy with attractions such as a small aquarium, riverboat trips and the smallest house in Britain to tempt you but in recent years I've found eating on the quayside a life-threatening experience thanks to the homicidal tendencies of the area's herring gull population! Butterfly World, located just outside the town walls in Bodlondeb Park, is a lovely experience as it is a hothouse crammed to bursting point with exotic plants and has streams filled with koi carp as well as hundreds of large and brlliantly coloured butterflies flying freely around your head - a word of warning to arachnaphobiacs though: DON'T look in
the glass cases! A more unusual attraction can be found at the end of a small, almost hidden alleyway that runs off Castle Street. The Teapot Museum is just that, a small building that houses a wonderful collection of teapots and tea-making ephemera that could just inspire you to start a new collecting mania when the car boot sale season opens! A final piece of advice to maximise your enjoyment of the town: try and visit during the festival week toward the end of August as there is plenty going on in and around the town, including some of the very best street music and theatre to be found anywhere.
Conwy is a victim of it's own popularity, it's a small town with very narrow roads going through it which can make traffic a problem. If they re did the roads it would take away the very essence of what so many people come to see in the first place. Once you brave the traffic and the limited parking and step out of your car, you find yourself in a beautiful old town with a moderately well preserved castle as it's centre-piece. Located close to tourist orientated Llandudno, it is perfect to split a day out between the two towns. The Castle is a must see but it has now changed from National Trust to Welsh Heritage so National Trust Members will have to pay £4.00 i think it is to get in. It is well worth the money as long as you don't mind heights because the views are superb from each of the six towers. You can take a boat trip out from the Harbour and the trips are very cheap and they even have a bar on board. Better than sitting in a smoky pub. The smallest house in the world can be found on the harbour and at 50p admission is definitely worth a look. There are lots of gift shops and curios corners to enjoy but there is not much for the kids to do here although if they are not too young they might enjoy a shop called Knights gone By which is full of medieval weapons and you can even dress up the whole family for some professional photographs, fun in itself and for £15.00 a reasonable price for a very personal souvinier. All in all a very worthwhile trip, i go at least once every few months.