“ Conwy is approached from the east via the A55 through North Wales. The beauty of this section of the country rivals anything in Britain. Approaching Conwy, the castle seems to suddenly rise out of the hills. The majestic old suspension bridge connecting t „
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On a weekend break in November 2010 we decided to have a drive out to Conwy to see if the castle would be open and to my delight it was. The castle itself looks very impressive as you drive along the road; on our first attempt we missed the entrance and started to drive out of the town. It is a walled town so this in itself gave me plenty to get excited about as we drove around the wall, before turning back to find the car park and entrance to the castle.
~~A Touch of History~~
The castle was commissioned by King Edward I as part of his plan to encircle the area of Snowdonia with English fortresses. The new site for Conwy Castle was established in 1283, it was to be a new castle and town which was to take its name from Aberconwy Abbey; yet it has been known as Conwy right from the beginning. It was the start of May when they started work on the building of the castle in the high rock facing the river estuary. King Edward I hoped that after the long battles with the Welsh were finally over that Aberconwy would become the administrative centre of the new country, but the Statute of Wales issued at Rhuddlan on March 19th 1284 that the North Wales Territories which had been conquered during the recent war, were now to become three counties known as Anglesey, Merioneth and Caernarfon, the latter being the one to be the administrative centre, which also had a new castle and town under construction.
Pulling resources and master builders from all over Wales and England the castle and the town walls went up in just a few years and was completed by 1287 the total cost came to a staggering £15,000 which is the equivalent to £45 million in today's money; probably still cheaper than the silly money spent on some buildings today. Would you believe it, after spending all this money King Edward I only ever stayed at the completed castle once and that was not by choice, he was forced to spend Christmas here in 1294 due to local flooding.
During the reign of Edward II the castle started to slip into decline and by the time of the reign of King Edward III it was like many other Royal Castles in North and South Wales it was showing lots of decay both in the building and its supplies of weaponry and food storage; by the early 1330's it was actually declared unfit for the King to stay should he wish to visit. Although mid century repairs were made and by the end of the century it had started to decay once again; yet this did not stop Richard II and his courtiers seeking refuge here back in 1399. It took another attempt of restoration around 1520's - 30's under the rule of Henry VIII, again this was not inhabited by royalty although there were plans to use it. It was used for a time as a prison for petty felons and debtors and also an armament store.
Although the castle seems to lack the warmth of being regularly habituated the town seemed to attract well to do families as its residents. Sadly the castle continued to decay and by 1627 it had lost a lot of its lead roofing and a lot of its wooden flooring was deemed unsafe. On June 26th of this year it finally left Royal ownership and was sold to Edward, first Baron Conwy, who was Secretary of State to the King for £100. He then adopted the title of Viscount Conwy of Conwy Castle.
During the reign of Charles I some repair work started again, but by 1645 conflict began, starting with soldiers storming the castle. The conflict between royalists and parliamentarians went on until its conclusion during November 1646 when Charles I permitted its garrison to surrender, Conwy was one of the last three castles which were taken.
It was 1665 when Conwy Castle faced even more ruin, when it came into the hands of the third Lord Conwy who did not want it, so he set about getting its valuable materials like its lead roof removed; after a few months everything was removed and just the shell was left.
Over the centuries since new bridges have been built to join the town walls, the first one of these was the Thomas Telford suspension bridge built in 1826, which holds the main Chester to Bangor road through the town. New roads were developed taking you through the town and in 1953 the castle and town walls came under the care of the Ministry of Works with a 99yr lease.
Reading about the history of this castle I felt quite sad for it, such a majestic building that has stood for centuries, but has never truly been loved especially during its first few centuries. From what I read now it appears that its historic value and the building itself are finally getting the love and attention it should have got from the beginning. I do feel that some historic royals built for the sake of building and sadly leaving them to rot; which is such a shame.
I do love old buildings whether it is a small house or a large stately home or castle; so I was really looking forward to our visit. The road was a duel carriageway and there were no problems reaching Conwy, I was so interested in looking around at the lovely views and seeing the castle in front of us that I missed seeing the turning for the entrance and we ended up continuing along the road following the town walls. It is quite a majestic sight, very beautiful as you approach it, I love the way the bridge actually becomes part of it.
The castle itself dominates the entrance into Conwy and once we turned around we made our way back to the car park and the entrance to this lovely castle. The car park is not that big and although it was very much outside the tourist season it was still full, we managed to find a space and made our way to the gift shop, which doubles as the entrance and exit to the castle grounds. Once we had purchased our tickets we went through the glass doors onto a pathway which led you up the steep incline taking you to the castle entrance. Hubby, bless him always worries about me being able to walk and the incline here did concern him, but my shear bloodymindness and the adrenaline rush from seeing an old building got me to the top albeit a little breathless when I got there. The pathway was quite smooth going up the incline was quite smooth, unlike the pathways on the actual castle grounds which were very uneven, large cobblestones and could be quite dangerous for someone with walking problems. I did trip once or twice, but I tend to shuffle when my legs and back get tired and sore.
The North West tower is a great example of some of the architecture of the time, you can see how each room had a large airy window where you could sit, and these were to allow light and air into the rooms. These would have had iron bars on them as well to keep unwanted visitors out. There are also very small narrow slits which were barred and known as 'loops', again these were here for added security and sadly they didn't let in much light. On this side of the castle is a very good example of the masonry cover to one of the 'latrines' which they would have used in their day.
'Put holes' can be seen where the builders would have secured the wooden beams. It is totally amazing to look for these as you go around the castle ruins, letting yourself imagine what it must have been like to have built this. I mentioned loops before; there are bigger ones as well which they call 'arrow loops' so you can imagine what these were used for, obviously the defence of the castle.
It is quite impressive as you walk around the ruins, and look around the rooms letting your imagination try to see how they would have looked in its day. There are plaques around and pictures to help you see what it would have been like, you also have your guide book to help you. I loved the beautiful arches you saw, they always make me think of the skills that went into constructing them.
There were parts of the castle that I couldn't physically get to as for one reason, my hubby won't let me risk trying to climb naturally uneven and worn staircases and a lot of these were extremely narrow as well. So for the majority of our visit we stayed on the one level, only occasionally going down wide and few stairs to some sections because hubby could help me and stop me from falling. I noticed that the prison tower was very narrow and there were large ledges leading to the window, you could get a few bums side by side on the ledges.
I am always amazed by the kitchens in old buildings and here was no exception where you can see holes in the walls, which would have been for storing food. The guide book informs me that the kitchen and kitchen tower would have also included a brew house and bake house all under the same roof.
I am like a child let loose in a sweet shop looking in every room and reading any boards that are available feeding my mind with information as I drag my poor husband around with me. He would prefer to see a stately home which is furnished rather than the ruins of a castle. I love to see how such an old building is still standing, even though it is just a shell now, with the help of guides and the information at hand I can see and sense what it would have been like.
The chapel was lovely and to me it still had a regal and spiritual feel to it with its large lancet windows, the roof above these windows was amazing. The castle and the wall contain a massive 22 towers, I know you can go up some of these, I am not sure if you can climb all 22 or even it you would want to. Sadly I didn't go up the towers, but as the castle is on a hill you still got some spectacular views without going up a tower.
We only spent a few hours walking round the castle grounds, but I enjoyed looking out for the little signs of how it had once looked and enjoyed the ruins; the walks back to the gift shop was down hill so wasn't too bad for a tired body.
The gift shop was just like most gift shops selling over priced gifts and memorabilia to encourage you to part with your pennies. It was very warm in the shop which was nice on a cool November day.
After our visit we both needed to use the toilets before heading back to our hotel, the toilets were down a long set of stairs and there was no lift, so I used the disabled toilet which was outside the main entrance. Personally I was extremely disappointed in the toilet facilities, it was as bad as a lot of public toilets with the metal bowl and I think (if I remember correctly) it had no seat on it. I know I was very uncomfortable and if I could have waited I would not used it. My husband wasn't that impressed with the gents toilets either.
There was a little cafe next door to the castle as you came out onto the car park, I cannot comment on it though as we didn't stay to try it.
~~Opening Times ~~
1st April - 30th June - 0930 - 1700 daily
1st July - 31st Aug - 0930 - 1800 daily
1st Sep - 31st Oct - 09.30 - 1700 daily
1st Nov - 28th Feb - 10.00 - 1600 Mon - Sat
11.00 - 16.00 on Sundays
1st Mar - 31st Mar - 09.30 - 17.00 daily
It is closed on 24th, 25th and 26th December, also closed on Jan 1st.
~~ How much? ~~
Adults - £4.80
Concessions - £4.30
Child - £4.30
Family Ticket - £13.90 admits 2 adults and up to 3 children under 16yrs.
~~ Directions ~~
You can get to Conwy via the A55 and the B5106; it also has its own railway station which is next to the castle grounds if you prefer to go by train; which maybe an idea as someone actually reversed into our car on the car park knocking our bumper out.
For your Sat nav the address is
5 Rose Hill St
~~ Overall ~~
I am glad I didn't read up on the castles history prior to going, as I mentioned earlier this castle had quite a sad history and that would have spoilt the fairy tale image I had of the wonderful medieval castle. It is in ruins and has been for many hundreds of years, but it still contains many years of history and can you imagine the stories it would tell and the things it has seen in its life time, if only it could talk. In a way it can talk, the ruins of the castle and the little bits of wood and the holes where the beams would have fitted all tell a story of the work and craftsmanship that went into making this building, that with the help of the boards and the guidebook telling you about its history you soon build a picture of how it once was. So as you look around the grounds remember the castle is speaking to you and sharing with you its history and how people would have lived all those years ago.
If you like history and architecture then this ruined castle is a must visit.
Everything true as of May 2011
Thank you for reading
Lyn (Arnoldhenryrufus) xx
** Introduction **
Conwy Castle is a magnificent survivor of darker times. It was constructed on the orders of King Edward I of England in the late 13th century, becoming one of the castles which made up the "ring of iron" with which he intended to put an end to Welsh resistance to English dominion over the principality. Several other castles in the ring survive - along with Beaumaris, Caernarfon and Harlech Castles Conwy is a World Heritage Site - but Conwy is particularly notable both for its massive physical presence and for the way in which it is integrated into the town walls; these have also survived almost intact to the present day, making Conwy a superb example of a medieval walled town.
** The castle itself **
You approach the castle via the inevitable tourist office and gift shop (there are also toilets here) and then climb a long ramp which rises between the town and the castle mound itself. (The ground level of the castle - only - is largely accessible to those on wheels.) Before you even reach the entrance you will be getting good views out across the harbour, although these are as nothing when compared with the glorious vistas of the Conwy on one hand and Snowdonia on the other which are available from higher up. Right up close, the castle's huge curtain walls seem, if anything, even more intimidating than they are from a distance; this is most assuredly not just a fortified manor house in the way of, for example, the roughly contemporary Stokesay Castle across the border in Shropshire.
The ground floor of the castle is, unsurprisingly, dominated by the Great Hall, a full 125 feet in length. This area needs a little more imagination than some to picture as it was, since it is now mostly grassed, with a broad and easy path through the middle and some wooden benches which, I would hazard, were probably not part of Edward's original plans for the place! However, you certainly can get a feel for just how secure a full-on medieval castle was: inside the walls (just one layer: the rock is strong enough that no concentric rings were required) it's easy to forget entirely about the town and countryside beyond and let your horizons shrink so that this really does become your world. For the English defenders in troubled times, it sometimes was.
** Going up... **
The "wall walk", seven or eight metres above the ground, is an absolute must. From here you can look down into the Great Hall, but also get a closer view of the towers and the remains of interior arches; much of this masonry remains quite impressive. The walk is generally not too bad for those of a nervous persuasion (ie me!) although there are one or two places where it becomes quite narrow, and - as is the case in a number of places in the castle, actually - the parapet is not that high. It's not actually unsafe at all, but in slippery conditions you will want to watch your step a little, especially given the number of fearless small children who rush around the place!
The next stage up consists of several large round towers, which are generally essentially complete. These are probably the best option for those without a head for heights, as they don't feel too exposed yet you can get very fine views across country, town and water. One big plus at Conwy Castle is that, although staircases are narrow and winding, with ropes to hold on to as you climb, most of the steps have clearly been restored fairly recently. Some other castles have worryingly worn and uneven stairs, but that's not a problem here. There are usually "passing places" halfway up, too, and sometimes small rooms (ex-privies, quite often!)
Those who want the best views of all should continue up one of the (again, several) high towers. These are quite a bit narrower than the lower level, and the tops really are quite exposed, with the parapet barely up to hip height in some places. The thickness of their walls means that things aren't actually quite as precarious as they look from below, but go up there on a breezy day and you'll certainly know about it! Still, this is the place to go if you want the finest vistas of the lot: from right up here, on a clear day you can see, if not for ever, then certainly for 700 years or so!
** Getting there **
I'd normally put this section nearer the end of a review of this sort, but in the case of Conwy Castle the approach can form part of the attraction. Although there is some parking in Conwy, and a small (request stop) station, the town is very cramped for driving: therefore, in my view the best way to get there is to walk from Llandudno Junction, just the other side of the Conwy estuary. The first few hundred yards are dull and concretey, but once you're up on the (wide, fenced) path by the side of the A55 and over "The Cob" causeway, you get superb views both of the castle itself looming up in front of you and, to your right, the estuary itself and eventually Conwy quayside. There are usually plenty of colourful boats bobbing at anchor here.
You can either come by train, or use the car park at Llandudno Junction station - it costs £3.50 for a day. Ther e is some free parking in the town (of Llandudno Junction) itself, but it's further away, can be rather cramped and doesn't have the level of security that the station car park does: this is a bit of an island of lesser fortune in a generally prosperous region, and while it's not a dangerous place the crime rate is higher than in the likes of Llandudno itself or Colwyn Bay. From the station car park, it's about a mile's walk over The Cob, and unless it's raining (in which case you can get very wet indeed!) I'd always choose this approach myself.
** Practicalities **
Conwy Castle is open all year round, except for the 24th, 25th and 26th of December and New Year's Day. There are several sets of opening hours depending on when you go:
July & August - 9.30 am to 6.00 pm
Apr, May, Jun, Sep & Oct - 9.30 am to 5.00 pm
March - 9.30 am to 5.00 pm
Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb - 10.00 am (11.00 am Sundays) - 4.00 pm
Admission charges are, I think, pretty reasonable considering the size and quality of the attraction. If you are a Cadw member (or an English Heritage member of more than one year's standing) you can get in free, and life members can take a guest in free as well. For those who have to pay, the prices are as follows:
Adult - £4.80
Concessions - £4.30
Family (max 2 adults + 3 children) -- £13.90
** Contact **
Contact is via Cadw:
Post: Cadw, Welsh Assembly Government, Plas Carew, Unit 5/7 Cefn Coed, Pac Nantgarw, Cardiff, CF15 7QQ
Phone: (01443) 336000
Unfortunately the official website (given above) is not very well done and is very short on information. I would recommend also taking a look at www.conwy.com - which is unofficial, but seems to me to be better laid out.
** Verdict **
Conwy Castle is a hugely impressive structure, and anyone with the slightest interest in such things should not rest until they have seen it. The castle's survival in such good condition, together with its dramatic position above the estuary bridges, means that it has retained some of the imposing and - yes - intimidating feel that Edward would have intended. That in turn makes it feel more "real" than those castles which are now nothing more than crumbling ruins. The final irony, of course, is that the castle is now run by the Welsh Government, something that Edward himself was trying to crush the very idea of!
Conwy castle is an amazing place. I always use to love going there as a kid and found it a very exciting place. We used to have family day trips with my parents and grand parents as we used to camp nearby in Colwyn bay.
Just the history of the place and the little town of Conwy is truly remarkable.
It has a feel of authentic medieval Wales. Just standing on top of the castle is great as well as scary because of the height up the tower as you can see for miles around like the Estuary and Snowdonia. Its well worth climbing those winding staircases to get to the top for the view.
Conwy was built by the English king Edward I between 1283 and 1289 to contain the welsh and has lots of history to learn.
You can get to Conwy on the A55 and B5106
You can choose to have a guided tour if you like or walk round at your own pace.
The cost are as follows -
Adults £4.60, Reduced rate £4.10.
Family Ticket:- £13.30 - admits 2 adults and up to 3 children under 16 years.
Opening Hours are as follows -
Last admission half an hour before closing.
1st April to 31st October - 09.00 - 17.00 daily
1st November to 31st March - 09.30 - 16.00 Monday to Saturday
11.00 - 16.00 Sunday
Closed:- 24th, 25th, 26th December, 1st January
Access by A55 and B5106.
On approaching Conwy you can not fail to be impressed by the magnificant castle, as it dominates the town. It was built as one of the key fortresses between 1283 and 1289 by Edward 1. Almost all of the hugh 8 towers and connecting walls are intact and the castle is accessible and well preserved. The views from the battlements are super, looking out towards the mountains and sea. Flood lights focused on the castle at night give it a very impressive, if not a spectacular sight.
Open daily, but the times vary throughout the year
1st April - 31 May 9.30 am - 5.00pm
!st June - 30 Sept 9.30am - 6.00pm
1st Oct - 31 Oct 9.30am - 5.00pm
1st Nov - 31st March 9.30am - 4.00pm Mon to Sat and 11.00am - 4.00pm on Sundays.
Adults £4 Family Ticket £11.50 admits 2 adults and upto 3 children under 16 years.
However, Conwy has much more to offer than just the castle. It has a variety of shops, cafes and souvenir shops and many more places of interest to visit. For example:
Plas Mawr is a fantastic example of an Elizabethan town house noted for it fine decorative plaster work on the ceilings. This restored property reflects the wealth of the Tudors.
Also, Conway has the smallest house in Britain. This house only measures 3.05 m high and 1.8 m wide. It was originally built as a fisherman's cottage and can be found on the quaysidet. Apparently the last person to live in the house was 6 foot 3 inches!!!
Aberconwy House is a National Trust property. It is a 14th century merchants house and it has furnished rooms with an audio - visual presentation which shows the daily life from different periods in time.
Wales is a beautiful place to visit, with some spectacular scenery and some stunning ruins to see. One of them being Conwy castle.
** LITTLE BIT OF A HISTORY LESSON...
Conwy castle is situated in North Wales, over looking the Conwy river.
It is a 'Linear' type castle which was built in 1283 during King Edward I second campaign in North Wales, the final stone being laid in 1289.
It took around 1500 workers, involving stonecutters and general labourer at a cost then of around £15,000 (just over £160 million in today's money), although some of this cost was actually used on the towns defences and not just the castle.
It was purposely built on solid rock for extra defence and to guard the entrance to the Conwy Estuary.
A few years after completion Edward I was besieged for several months in the castle during the rebellion of Madog ap Llywelyn, (Prince Madoc), although the castle was never captured
In the 14th century Edward (the black Prince) ordered alterations to the castle.
In 1403 a small band of Welsh forces managed to over power the castle guards and capture the castle.
During the war of the roses in the mid 1400s Conwy was captured by the Earl of Pembroke, William Herbert, under the orders of Edward the fourth.
Then by the 17th century the Castle had become more or less derelict and had fallen into disrepair, that is until the start of the English Civil war when it was used as a garrison for the English, although capture briefly in 1646, and was then abandoned.
In the 1660s it was then stripped of it's remaining timbers and metals on the orders Edward Conway and was left to decay as time went on.
* Not only is there a castle but there is also a three quarter of a mile wall surrounding the entire kingdom of Conwy which stand tall with its 22 towers
** HISTORY LESSON OVER... NOW FOR THE PRESENT...
* It is now owned by CADW although the ruins are controlled by the crown.
** GETTING THERE..
* By Car: along the A547, from the A55, or along the B5106 from the south.
* By Rail: To Conwy station, which is a stones through from the Castle.
* Also, there are several bus and Couch services running throughout the day.
There is plenty of parking in the surrounding pay and display car parks, the closest one being at the foot of the castle itself, near the entrance.
There is also a larger car park, which does house a small refreshment café with outside seating area, along the left of the castle wall, driving under a small section of the castle walks. To get to the castle from here simply follow the signs, which will direct you through a colourfully painted tunnel directly to the castle walls, from there you can either walk up the steps or take the slope.
There are also scattered parking areas around the village itself, although the road are one way only.
** TOILET FACILITIES...
Although there are no actual toilets in the Castle ruins themselves there are several public toilets scattered around Conwy itself.
** THE CASTLE ITSELF...
It is divided into two sections, the outer ward and the inner ward, both wards being separated by a thick wall and deep ditch.
Each ward was then overlooked by four 20 metre high towers which had several floor, the inner ward, which housed the Royalty, had extra defences in the shape of turrets and a drawbridge, in the event of the outer ward being penetrated.
The original way into the Castle way via a ramp with steps, then across a drawbridge and through a gateway into the fortification, which was protected by a portcullis, which could be lowered in case of attack.
This led into the outer ward, which housed the main living quarters for the guards, and the Castle staff.
The inner ward house the Royal apartments and the Great Hall, where the feast and parties were held to greet the visitors.
** WHEN IS IT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC..?
In season, (April - October) 9am until 5pm 7 days a week.
Off season (November - March 9:30pm until 4pm Monday to Saturday.
Sunday - 11am - 4pm
Closed 24th, 25th, 26th December and 1st January.
** ENTRANCE COST...
Adults £4.60. Concession £4.10
Family ticket £13.30 (two adults and up to three children)
* There is also the option of a guided tour around the castle, which runs two or three times per day in season, this can be organised at the Barbican form a little hut and cost £1.50 per person for a minimum of 2 people per tour.
Although getting to the castle is easy for everyone, the actual castle tour is not really for people in wheel chairs or walking difficulties, it is not advisable for those with prams either, as the ground inside the ruins are uneven underfoot.
From the car park entrance you go through the little souvenir shop, (every place has one), and, once paid, head off into the Castle itself.
The slope up to the Castle may be easily accessed, but once you are inside the ruins the ground is uneven. The towers themselves are especially difficult to navigate as they are dark, narrow and steep, sometimes a struggle, especially when people are approaching in the opposite direction.
** IN CONCLUSION...
What a monstrous monument Conwy castle is with its magnificent structure and incredible historical architecture.
As you approach, especially driving along the A547, crossing the bridge over the Conwy Estuary, you will instantly see the castle looming upon you through the wind-screen of your car, becoming an incredible sight as you pass by the massive stone walls.
Once you head through the Barbican and into the castle grounds itself you will be in awe at the stunning, yet eerie sight which beholds you, the ruins of what was once a spectacular fortress almost taking your breath away in an instance.
The walk around the castle can be either long or short, depending on how fast you walk and how many time you stop to read the many information plaques which are scattered around the ruins, but the views from the many points of the castle are well worth the walk.
The most stunning views are from the towers which stand proudly in the corners of the castle, the climb to the top is without doubt very tricky indeed, maybe even dangerous if you're not careful, with the stone steps being narrow and quite steep, leaving you breathless when you reach the top, feeling happy to ponder over the beautiful sight over this beautiful part of Wales.
It may be a steep climb but the results are well worth the effort, but do be careful descending the steps as this can be just as awkward, but there is a rope handrail which I do advise that you use.
When I visited the Castle I took my two young kids in there, (one of 6 and the other 10) and we spent quite a bit of time in there, having a little picnic at the far end, overlooking the Estuary, although the seagull did tend to mass around the wall around us, seeming to watch ever bite we took.
My kids initially enjoyed the castle, exploring the many nooks and crannies as they walked around, almost amazed by the structure as I explained what everything was, such as the grand fireplaces in the Main Hall and the royal quarters, how the prisoners were held in the prison tower and where the food for the meals were made, (I may have sounded intelligent but they soon realised that I was reading out of the information book I had purchased for £3.50 form the shop as we entered).
Although after we had walked around the site, climbing the towers and discovering the almost labyrinth of uncovered passageways and derelict rooms, my little cherubs became a little restless, in fact they even started to give the seagull pet names, so I decided that maybe we should head off into Conwy and away from the Castle itself. But this was after spending a good hour wondering the beautiful ruins of Conwy Castle, so the entrance fee is not so bad after all.
In all, a good place to visit having some stunning architecture and a fantastic look into the past.
Words cannot do justice to Conwy Castle. The simple description of "Conwy is, by any standards, one of the great fortresses of medieval Europe" found in the CADW guidebook sums it up well I feel. = = = History = = = Conwy Castle was designed by Edward I’s Castle builder James of St George. Conwy Castle and the town of Conwy is surrounded by its original wall that is still, to this day, well preserved. The only similar town/Castle is that of Caernarfon whereby its walls still exist, however, Conwy’s well-preserved wall helps the town maintain a medieval character lost by other Welsh castle towns. Construction of Conwy began in 1283, Conwy Castle being an important part of Kind Edward I’s plan of surrounding Wales in “an iron ring of castles”. The wall built around Conwy was intended to protect the English colony planted in Conwy. The native Welsh population were violently opposed to English occupation on their homeland! = = = Getting here = = = The easiest way to find the Castle (and you can’t really fail to miss it no matter which way you come into Conwy) is from the A55. The main route into Conwy is over the road running alongside the old suspension bridge connecting the castle with the main peninsula. NB. The suspension bridge was designed by Thomas Telford and was the first bridge to span the river at Conwy (the Afon Conwy, naturally!), and it’s opening in 1826 marked the end of a long monopoly held by the ferrymen. Telford’s bridge has recently been restored and the tollhouse furnished as it would have been a century ago. = = = The Castle = = = The Castle itself, now run by CADW (the Welsh Historic Trust) is open to the public. Attracting many visitors throughout the year, you’d be a fool not to take a look around whilst you’re in Conwy! The Castle is given 5/5 star rating on the CADW site (l
inks found at the end of this review). The Castle has eight towers all connected through the walls, which form a rectangle as opposed to the more traditional concentric layouts of Edward’s other castles in Wales. Although the Castle is typically derelict it’s all preserved as a controlled ruin and is safe enough (hence its open to the public!). You can tour the interior, consisting of the Inner Ward, Great Hall, King’s Hall and Cellars. Exterior tours are also ideal if you’re lucky with the weather with courtyards and grassed areas to admire the views from…. to admire the views fully though I recommend you do a walk of the towns’ walls and climb a tower or two. Wheelchair access is suitable in some areas of the Castle but due to the nature of the Castle (and its many towers and staircases), it isn’t suitable in all areas. You will of course be greeted by your average gift shop that is typical of the National Trusts’ properties. = = = My visit = = = In all honesty I can’t remember a great deal about my actual visit to the Castle. I’ve only been once and that was when I was 14 on a Year 9 history school trip. So I wasn’t just there for a fun day out, I was there to do work! (Or that was the plan anyway….) Anyway, what I do recall though is they did put a bit of a show on for us, re-enactments and the likes. I’m not sure whether this has to be arranged prior to your visit or not (e.g. for group bookings like school trips). I suspect these are put on, on a regular basis, during the summer season anyway. = = = Admission = = = ~ Opening hours ~ Last admission is half an hour before closing. 1st April to 1st June: 09:30-17:00 daily 2nd June to 28th September: 09:30-18:00 daily 29th September to 26th October: 09:30-17:00 daily 27th October to 31st March: 09:30-16:00 Mo
nday to Saturday 11:00-16:00 Sunday Closed: 24th, 25th, 26th December, 1st January. ~ Admission charge ~ Adults: £3.50 Family ticket: £10.00 – admits 2 adults and up to 3 children under 16 years. You can also get three or seven-day ‘explorer’ passes which give you free admission to the historic sites in the care of CADW. I went as part of a History trip in year 9 in school so I can’t remember how much I paid. Not only would I be under 16, I suspect they offer group booking discounts to schools. You can walk the walls and climb a tower or two for free if you’re skint (or if you’re a student, like me!!) I recommend you do this; you get great views of the marina from up there. Also, you don’t get quite as pestered by the seagulls up there if you’re eating anything (unlike down by the marina itself!). = = = Ghosts of Conwy Castle = = = You thought I was going to write an opinion with no reference to ghosts then didn’t you? HAHA. How wrong were you!? You should’ve known better! Sarah_Louise can’t simply post a review with no reference to ghosts. Located on the outer rim of Conwy Castle are the eight towers. These are said to be haunted by eight ghosts. It all started the day the castle was built when there used to be a legend not to leave your working tools our during the night or they would be entranced by the ghosts. On the third night of constructing the towers, a fire broke out in the Great Hall. All workers were alerted to leave the castle at once. They duly did and forgot their tools. So, during the night, it’s said that eight ghosts entranced their tools. So, for the rest of the construction, weird things started happening like things collapsing and tools going missing. There have been a few reported incidents of people seeing ghosts and having other strange occurrences in the Castle. Sad
ly, as it’s owned by CADW we can’t go in to investigate ourselves. (CADW don’t allow such things to occur which is a shame because they own loads of really haunted locations in Wales…. further reviews of some of these coming up over the following weeks!) = = = Links = = = (In order of preference in my opinion!) http://www.castlewales.com/conwy.html http://www.theheritagetrail.co.uk/castles/conwy%20castle.htm www.conwy.com http://www.walesdirectory.co.uk/his/cas/conwy.htm http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/conway/conway.html http://www.castle-explorer.co.uk/wales/conwy/conwy.php http://www.archaeology.co.uk/issues/ca150/conwy1.htm
I’m not a great fan of the winter, I get bored with the long dark nights and cold, wet gloomy days and I long for the first signs of spring. The build-up to Christmas seems to be taken up with endless weekend shopping trips most but not all of which I manage to avoid if there’s a home match or if I’m lucky enough, a suitable away fixture. It’s surprising where my wife and daughter have Christmas shopped over the last few years - exotic places such as Rochdale, Bury, Macclesfield and Walsall. I’ve promised them that when Wrexham play in the Premier League the shopping trips will be to Leeds, Manchester, London and Birmingham – but that could be some way off! In return for my participation in the Christmas shopping trips we usually choose a sunny weekend in the winter months for a ‘non-shopping’ day out to blow away the cobwebs and get some fresh air into our lungs. One of my favourites in recent years was a visit to Conwy castle. Conwy itself is a beautiful little town situated on the estuary of the River Conwy on the edge of Snowdonia in the north-west corner of Wales. Approached from the east via the A55 through North Wales, the beauty of this section of the country rivals anything in Britain. It is a classic walled town full of authentic medieval character. The circuit of walls over three quarters of a mile long is guarded by no less than 22 towers and is recognized as one of the finest in the World. The town is impressive for a number of other reasons too, boasting the oldest house in Wales, the smallest house in Wales and the oldest pub in Wales as well as a busy and delightfully picturesque quay. But the most significant of Conwy’s treasures is Edward 1’s formidable castle The approach to the town is by three very impressive bridges which span the estuary: Telford’s suspension bridge of 1826, Stephenson’s tubular railway bridge and a modern road bridge.
The end of this three-pronged approach is dominated by the magnificent castle which looms menacingly above the town and glassy waters of the estuary. Its defences are rooted in the massive crags of the promontory on which they stand and it immediately conveys its sense of strength and compactness. Edward constructed the castle as one of the key fortresses in his 'iron ring' of castles in the late 13th century to contain the Welsh and protect the English colony planted at Conwy. When it was first built, Conway castle would have looked even more striking, magical, even fairytale-like, for the grey stone work was originally rendered white. The castle is divided into an outer and inner ward, protected by two barbicans and eight massive almost identical round towers. Inner and outer wards could be defended separately should any attackers manage to breach the outer walls. The outer wall is dominated by the Great Hall which is still spanned by a slender stone arch. A well, 91 feet deep barred entry into the inner ward, which was also protected by a drawbridge. Conwy's massive military strength springs from the rock on which it stands and seems to grow naturally. Soaring curtain walls and the eight huge towers give the castle, which is a World Heritage Inscribed site, an intimidating presence undimmed by the passage of time. Almost all of the castle is accessible and well preserved. Climbing to the top of any of the towers provide spectacular views of the town, surrounding coastline and countryside. The views from the battlements are breathtaking looking out across mountains and sea and down to the roofless shell of the castle’s 125ft Great Hall. From these battlements you can really appreciate Conwy’s fine walls, the beautiful coastline and most of all, the tussocky, Snowdonian foothills jagged with mysterious megaliths and burial chambers A visit to Conwy and its wonderful castle should be rounded off with a pint
and a pub lunch. Two miles south on the B5106 of Conwy is the Groes Inn apparently the oldest licensed hostelry in Wales. This is beautiful pub to visit, in a lovely situation beside the river Conwy - roaring fires, frothy beer and traditional Welsh cooking, with every nook and cranny filled with historic artifacts. Perhaps winter’s not that bad after all. On a cold winter’s morning every bump and hollow of the scenery around here is thrown into relief by the low sunlight - far better than Marks and Spencers. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ --------- The castle is open from: 27th March to 31st May 09.30 - 17.00 daily 1st June to 29th September - 09.30 - 18.00 daily 30th September to 27th October - 09.30 - 17.00 daily 28th October to 31st March 09.30 - 16.00 Monday to Saturday 11.00 - 16.00 Sunday Last admission half an hour before closing. It is closed on 24th, 25th, 26th December, 1st January Admission Charge: Adults £3.50, Reduced rate £3.00. Family Ticket:- £10.00 - admits 2 adults and up to 3 children under 16 years. Three or seven day explorer passes are available which give you free admission to the historic sites in the care of Cadw.