We had a lovely stay at the West Arms Hotel - Friday 16th to Sunday 18th September 2011.
If you don't mind driving five miles up single-track winding lanes to get a mobile phone signal (and even then it's not guaranteed) then this will be a perfect country getaway.
The staff are friendly, the locals welcoming and the food delicious. In fact, while we were there, the chef was being filmed by ITV for Britain's Best Professional Dish. I can personally recommend the steak and mushroom pie in the lounge bar.
There is free wifi in the hotel albeit in the downstairs areas only. The management are currently working on getting it through the entire hotel but at the time of writing, it was only available downstairs. But it is free to residents, and they even let one old chap use it who had only come in for lunch and was staying at the pub over the road.
The rooms are very picturesque, and the only small complaint we had was that our bed was a little hard.
The television in the room was an old portable, but when you go to the countryside in Wales, you don't exactly go to watch TV, do you? If you did want to stay in your room and watch a small square box, there is a selection of videos (yes, I did say videos - actual VHS videos) behind the reception desk. I don't know what they have as we didn't need them.
Would happily go back again and again.
(This review has also been posted on ciao.co.uk)
Chirk Castle - 6 miles from Llangollen
This is a National Trust Property 2 miles from Chirk village and approximately 6 miles from Llangollen.
For Sat Nav users the postcode in LL14 5AF.
It is open from Wednesday to Sunday each week from 11am from February half term to the end of October. Closing times vary from 4pm to 5pm depending on the time of year. It is also open on Bank Holidays. The garden and tea rooms open at 10am. The car park is about 200 yards from the castle.
Prices including a gift aid contribution for the castle and gardens are £9.20 per adult, £4.60 per child but there is a family ticket for £23.
Baby changing and feeding facilities are available. Front carrying baby slings and hip carrying infant seats are on loan, as pushchairs are not allowed in the property . There is a familiy room with costumes and activities and a children's play area.
Toilets are in reception and the courtyard.
Dogs are only allowed in the car park and on the estate walks and must be kept on a lead.
There is wheelchair access to the ground floor but there are steps at the entrance and the shop. There is access to the first floor but only one wheelchair user at a time is permitted.
As with all National Trust properties thare is a shop and tea rooms at the castle and the Home Farm Visitor Centre. The farm shop sells local and estate produce (although a bit pricey). There are also plant sales and a second hand bookshop. There is a guided tour from 11 am - noon only.
This is a fantastic example of a medieval fortress completed in 1310 during the reign of Edward 1 and it is still lived in today. It is in a stunning location with views over nine counties.The Adam Tower and the Dungeon are just as they were 700 years ago. Other features include the Servants' Hall, the 17th century Long Gallery and the State Apartments where there is a display of lavish furnishings and elaborate plasterwork.
The woodlands were originally the medieval hunting park and there is a an abundancy of wild flowers on show around on this circular 1 1/4 mile walk. The gardens are particularly beautiful in June and July with the display of flowering shrubs.
Chirk Castle is also a wedding venue - weddings can be arranged in the Capel or thatched Hawk House. The chapel dates back to the 15th century and has arched windows and wooden beams.The Hawk House is thatched and was once the home of the birds of pry.
For more information contact 0691 777701.
Lllangollen has many things going for it. It is first of all set in a beautiful valley and the waters roar through under the bridges providing a picturesque scene. Around you are many hills with colours that vary as the seasons change.
Amid all this natural beauty there are many man-made attractions. The first of these is the Llangollen canal and from the wharf above the town you can take a ride on a motor narrowboat or even a horse-drawn boat along the canal. The canal runs for many miles into the Cheshire plain but a 2 hour trip takes you out of the town and over the Pontcysyllte aqueduct which was built by Thomas Telford. The trips are wonderfully relaxing and you can enjoy the teas sold on board. The wharf itself is a bustle of activity and the café here has a wide range of meals available. There is excellent home cooking and cakes available.
Back down in the town there is the Lower Dee Exhibition Centre. Here there is the official Dr Who exhibition. Now I appreciate you are either a fan or you are not and many younger visitors may not even know who is Who or who Who is if you know what I mean.The Centre also houses a Model Railway exhibition in the factory where Dapol model railway products were made. Some are still produced here but mainly to show how they were made when full production was done here. Again model railways are not everyones cup of tea. My wife likened our visit there to the episode of The Simpsons where the children are taken on a visit to a box factory. I thought it was OK.
On a similar theme there is also a full sized steam railway which takes you along the Dee valley. It is quite picturesque but I always find being in a valley a lot less attractive than looking along or into a valley. Every steam train ride is good fun and pure nostalgia but this not the best I have been on. The station itself is very pretty and there are often stalls with old memorabilia for sale.
The town has many good cafes and but not as many interesting shops as I would have liked. You can also visit the Pavilion where the Eistedfodd is held each year. Worth noting if you are a Hot Air Balloon fan is that in the first weekend in September there is a mass launch of balloons and other attractions - well worth the £5 admission (£3 for children). When we stopped in Llangollen with our caravan we cycled along to the Motor Museum which as well as a reasonably number of car exhibits and similar items also has an exhibition of the canals history. This is well worth a visit and very reasonably priced.
You will not be disappointed with a day trip to Llangollen or even a weekend away there. There are plenty of hotels, guest houses and camp sites nearby.
What can i say about Llangollen. Llangollen is well known for its beauty and of course the International Musical Eisteddfod Were Competitors worldwide come and contribute to the Welsh Eisteddfod. Among the big names this year will be Pavarotti and Shirley Bassey.This years Eisteddfod dates are 7th-13th July. The Eisteddfod attracts over 80,000 visitors. There you will have the chance to meet and see people in their international costumes. I would suggest that you travel by coach or park outside Llangollen and get a bus or cab at this time of year, as parking is horrendous. Let us see what else Llan (the name it is known by locals) has to offer. It is an ancient market town situated on the banks of the River Dee. Also it was once a very welcome stop for travellers going to and from London. Now it is a fashionable destination for a lot of day visitors. Llan has got some great hotels, B&Bs etc. for those people who want to spend more time there. I will tell you more about these later on in my review. Do not expect the roller coaster high life if you are visiting Llan, it is a place of beauty, clean air and majestic landscapes. The population in Llan is about 3,000. Except of course Eisteddfod week. There are many things to do, see and visit in Llangollen such as. Plas Newydd, known as the home of the Ladies of Llangollen.the ladies were called Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby, These two ladies are well Known as the two virgins. Both ladies were known to be very eccentric and soon became objects of curiosity. The ladies transformed the simple cottage and most of it still remains today. Carved Oak and stained glass being among some of the features.The Gothic house is a visit in it?s self but the gardens are another thing, offering a peaceful refuge from todays life of hustle and bustle. Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby, had many famous people staying and visiting them including
The Duke of Wellington, William Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott. A visit to Llangollen would not be complete without a trip on the canal. There you would enjoy a trip on a canal boat pulled by a large horse. You would move smoothly along passing shoals of fish swimming in the crystal clear water. Enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Dee Valley as you were pulled slowly along the river. For car fanatics go down memory lane and see the kind of transportation your grandpappy used to use at Llangollen motor museum. For railway enthusiasts it is well worth your time to take a visit to Llangollen Railway. There are daily trips on steam engines through the valley at which time you can spend your time admiring the scenery whilst having the pleasure of Riding on a steam train. Does anyone love canoeing, white-water rafting, abseiling, hill- walking, rock climbing, potholing if you do you have come to the right place. There are various shops in the town that hire out equipment etc. JJ CANOEING being amongst the best. Shopping in Llan is typical welsh stuff, such as: lovespoons, miners lamps, slate and coal products, pottery, stone figures, sheepskins and goatskins (lovely rugs) the list goes on. You have got to try welsh fudge. A good place to go if you like sheep (by sheep I mean they are so friendly they will happily share your lunch) is The ponderosa it is a café come gift shop situated high upon the Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen. It is 1,400 ft above sea level. The most stunning views you will ever see in wales as I said there is the ponderosa cafe, In the café there is a licensed Dining Area that can be used for Coach Parties as well as families. After lunch take a walk along the pass and take in the fresh air and scenery, do not forget your camera. A few places you might want to spend a couple of nights at:- The 18th century Golden Pheasant hotel set in the Ceiriog val
ley. With a choice of restaurants. Two Bars,an open range log fire where you can relax and enjoy a tipple or two before dinner. A spectacular view of the Berwyn mountains. What more can I say. If you don?t fancy a Golden Pheasant why not stay at the Wild Pheasant there you will be Surrounded By meadows and see the Wild Pheasants And Grazing Horses gently mixing among each other as you enjoy your food from local welsh produce. Visiting Llangollen is an experience in itself, do not forget when you walk along the river bank to first buy a packet of bird seed (sold in a shop by the river) to feed the vast amount of ducks and their babies who live on the river. Please put your litter in bins provided as you go home at the end of the day, the ducks have to live there. Enjoy your visit.
I have been to Llangollen five times. I attended Dr. Who weekends there in March ’97, July ’97, November ’97 and April ’98. I met my new husband at one of these on July 25th, 1997. We married last week – five years to the day – and naturally enough, we decided to have our honeymoon there too. As it is one of my favourite places, I thought I would tell you all about it too. Llangollen is beautiful. I love Wales anyway and think it has a lot to offer everyone. Although Llangollen is small with a population of around 3000, there is plenty to do and lots of things to spend your money on. I have stayed in two hotels there – The Royal and The Hand Hotel. Both are very good and in central locations. This time, we stayed at The Hand Hotel in the room with a four poster bed. I will hopefully be reviewing it in more depth, once the category is added, but it cost £85 per night for our room and we were impressed with most aspects of the hotel, except the service was sometimes inconsistent and the breakfast was inadequate. Everywhere in Llangollen is pretty accessible on foot. The main area consists of Castle Street, Bridge Street, Church Street, Oak Street, Berwyn Street and Regent Street. There is also the river (Dee) and the canal, all within easy walking distance from the main hotels. There are some lovely shops and plenty of places to eat, with all of the ones we visited being very good value. You can usually get a main meal for £5 at the most and all the food we had was excellent. There is a little café quite hidden away in a back street, where we had a lovely meal sitting outside on the terrace. It is near a bookshop and a nice place selling affordable antiques. Actually, there are loads of antique shops, if that is your sort of thing. Maxine’s is a must-visit place. It’s a café and children’s’ play area downstairs then upstairs, there is the biggest b
ookshop I have seen. It houses both second-hand and new books of varying prices. You can pick up pretty much anything here and they have a good selection of very old and valuable books, as well as ones on entertainment, sci-fi, kids’ stuff, languages, politics and so on. Not all the books are cheap, but you’re bound to find something that interests you. The best place we ate at was a restaurant called Honeys. The food was gorgeous, it was very quiet there and the woman there (the only member of staff we saw) was very friendly and helpful. We had a wonderful meal in nice, relaxed surroundings and would definitely go there again. There were three shops I would recommend – Wholly Cats and Paws For Bears (next to each other on Berwyn Street) and West Coast Trading Co. We spent quite a lot of money in the first and last of those, but restricted our experience of the bear shop to purely wishful thinking. Wholly Cats is another place I hope to do a whole opinion on, but it consists of cats in various forms – ornaments, cuddly toys, draught excluders, salt and pepper sets, etc. Besides the cats, there are other cuddly toys here such as TY beanies and Attic Treasures, Jellycats toys and other familiar names. I bought two cuddly bats, a large puffball mouse and a tiny pink rabbit. Paws For Bears is definitely at the top end of the bear collectors market. You really need between £25 and £45 to get anything here. You will find your best class of bear here – you know, the wiry-haired, ear-buttoned, tummy-growling kind. There were Steiff bears, fairy bears, even a collection of Wizard of Oz bears! Just beautiful, but unfortunately out of my price range. The West Coast Trading Co. is a different kind of shop. It is another fairly expensive one, with many great gift ideas. There is a section of toiletries made from essential oils in one part. This is rather like Lush with solid see-through soaps and round
shampoo bars. They sell for £3-£4 each, so are not cheap. In the rest of the shop, there are cushions, handmade cards, embroidered T-shirts and sweatshirts, trays and coasters with various designs on and other items. We bought a cuddly toy in a matching bag (Dalmatian in one, penguin in the other) for two of our children. These cost £8 each, so are quite expensive but well made. There are several places to buy souvenirs and gifts from, including a big shop near the bridge and the newsagents opposite, but shop around and compare prices. We bought a cuddly red dragon for £3.99 as well as various assortments of Welsh fudge for between £1.50 and £1.95 each. There are also dolls in traditional costume, bears in Welsh jumpers, thimbles, shortbread and the inevitable postcards. There seemed to be a lot of overseas tourists in Llangollen, including Japanese, French and German. However, Llangollen doesn’t seem to have been tainted with any of the disadvantages of being a tourist town. There is very little litter, virtually no graffiti and the nearest we saw to rowdy behaviour was a small group of local lads messing about in the river. It seems to be more of a place for twenty-somethings upwards, there aren’t many attractions for children really. The nearest cinema is in Wrexham for example. Llangollen seems to retain the air of a serene village, but that is not to say it is boring. We were there for three days this time and had plenty of things we wanted to do and see. This time, I had an idea. Our hotel room had a lovely view and I became fascinated by what looked like a stone circle on top of the hill opposite. I discovered it was actually the remains of a castle called Castell Dinas Bran. I asked around and found out you could walk all the way up it or drive partway then walk the rest. We chose the latter. To get there by car, you have to drive up past the canal and on a very steep, narrow and winding r
oad. This can be rather scary and I would only recommend this route to confident and experienced drivers, as you are very high up and it is often a sheer drop. We were told there was a car park, but it’s really only a bit of land. There are tearooms off to one side too, but we didn’t go there. You will need to take drinks with you on your walk though. Take your mobile phones too, as you can feel quite isolated at times and on top of the hill was the only place I got a decent signal all weekend! The climb to the top of Castell Dinas Bran is not an easy one. Wear sensible footwear and take it steady, but the view is well worth it if you can get to the top. It is also a very inspirational experience, I wrote several pages in my notepad while I was there and have some ideas for another novel now! There is a large exhibition centre past the river which houses the largest permanent Doctor Who exhibition in the world. Its other attractions are the Model Railway World, the Dapol toy factory and the Llangollen history museum. If you like railways, you will love this place. The shop is well stocked from Thomas the Tank Engine upwards and they even hold weekend events called Railway Dayz <sic> for fanatics. The Doctor Who exhibition houses costumes, props, monsters and the like from the TV programme and its various spin-offs. You can even squat inside a Dalek and say EXTERMINATE! (Mine said VOTE FOR KATE!) It is well worth a visit for any fan, although the cafe has now gone and the shop’s merchandise has been depleted since Dapol lost its licence to make the figures. It is rumoured that the exhibition might have to close in a couple of years too, so see it while you can. In the past, we have done several other touristy things here, which I will mention briefly. We have been on the steam railway trip, where you eat a meal during the journey. We have taken several canal
boat trips – both horse-drawn ones and one on a motor narrowboat over the terrifyingly high (127 feet) Pontcysyllte aqueduct (where I famously hid at floor level for several minutes!). We have visited Plas Newydd (Home of the Ladies of Llangollen from 1780 to 1829) which is a pretty house with an interesting history! We have also travelled slightly further afield to various locations used for Doctor Who stories including Portmeirion (The Masque of Mandragora), Ironbridge Gorge (Mark of the Rani) and locations used for The Five Doctors. Overall, Llangollen is beautiful and scenic. You can’t miss a romantic walk along the side of the river or a glimpse of the whole place beneath you from the hills. The local people are very friendly and always eager to help you. There are some great shops, a vast choice of places to eat and plenty of attractions to visit. I hope you will go there some day and that you love it as much as we do. SOME HELPFUL DETAILS BELOW The Hand Hotel, Bridge Street, Llangollen, Denbighshire, LL20 8PL TEL : 01978-860303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Wholly Cats, 10 Berwyn Street, Llangollen, Denbighshire, LL20 8ND TEL : 01978-861764 email: email@example.com website: www.whollycats.com Paws For Bears TEL : 01978 869222 email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.paws-for-bears.co.uk The Doctor Who Experience, Llangollen Exhibition Centre, Mill Street, Llangollen, Denbighshire, LL20 8RX TEL : 01978-860584 or email email@example.com or see www.dapol.co.uk Llangollen Wharf – horse drawn boats and aqueduct cruises TEL : 01978-860702 Llangollen Railway TEL : 01978-860979 The Berwyn Belle TEL : 01978-860583 Maxine’s TEL : 01978 -860334 Plas Newydd – Open daily, Easter to October, 10am-5pm. TEL : 01978-861314 West Coast
Trading Co. TEL : 01978-860886 or see www.westcoasttrading.co.uk Llangollen Tourism Association http://www.llangollen.org.uk/about_llangollen.htm Castell Dinas Bran http://www.castlewales.com/dinas.html