“ Address: Caernarfon / North Wales „
While in Caernarfon last month my family and I spotted a small hut perched on the dockside with the sign 'Menai Strait Cruises', further inspection revealed that we could go on a 40 minute boat trip along the Menai Strait and the best bit was that the boat was due to leave in less than five minutes so we hopped straight on board.
Prices are extremely reasonable at £5 for adults and £3.50 for children, under three's go free so that was one in our party who didn't have to pay! The rest of us were quite happy to get our cash out as a relaxing boat trip was completely called for after all the running about we had done over the previous couple of days.
The boat itself is in excellent condition. If I'm honest it doesn't look as well buffed and perfect as other boats operating in the area but this didn't put me off in the slightest as it was obviously well maintained and sea worthy, it just needed a lick of paint in my opinion. There is plenty of seating around the sides of the boat and also block seating in the centre of the deck, the boat does fill up quickly though so if you are in a large party like we were then be prepared to ask people to shift over a little so you can all sit together.
The boat trip begins just outside Caernarfon Castle and takes you to the southwest entrance of the Straits, passing lots of interesting places along the way. The fellow piloting the boat gave an interesting informal talk which began as soon as the trip was underway, he seemed to be extremely knowledgeable about this area and gave the facts and figures in an interesting way interspersed with friendly anecdotes and stories of happenings on the Straits in times past.
The boat travels at a fairly brisk speed, although because the scenery is so wide reaching there is plenty of time to see and photograph any specific area you are interested in. Of course, Snowdonia is the main reason many people visit this area of Wales and this was discussed in some detail as the trip went on. Personally I felt this was overkill as the North of Wales is pretty much dominated by the Snowdonia National Park and most people will have seen or read about the area before getting on the boat, personally I would have preferred the commentary to have focussed on things I wouldn't have seen if I hadn't taken the boat trip rather than the attractions I had already seen from dry land while approaching Caernarfon.
I was interested in the talk about the Lleyn Peninsula, a strip of land which pokes out into the Menai Straits. This is famed because it only receives around 36 inches of rain per year whereas, strangely, the areas immediately surrounding the Peninsula can get up to 200 inches in an average year! Isn't nature the strangest thing!
Our trip took us to within sight of Anglesey and back which was perfect as far as I'm concerned. The 40 minute duration was ideal for all of us and even thought it's a very relaxing trip I was pleased to get back into port as by the end of it my two year old granddaughter was threatening to turn us all grey as she kept trying to get too close to the edge! We took some fabulous photographs including lots during the approach back to Caernarfon where the magnificent castle stood above the beautiful little market town, I doubt it could have looked as good from the road and for this reason alone I was very glad to have come on the trip.
The boat trip will take place in most weathers, although the lady collecting the money at the beginning of the trip advised us that should the weather turn at any point the boat would be brought immediately back to shore. This was because during the weekend of our visit there were torrential rains in North Wales and obviously the owners of the boat need to ensure that their passengers are safe.
I completely recommend this cruise for both value for money and the experience. I felt the talk wasn't overloaded with facts but more drew me to the beauty of my surroundings, I particularly liked the fact that the talk didn't seem forced in any way and there were comfortable gaps in the commentary which indicated to me that the speaker wasn't just talking for the sake of it.