“ Sandy beach, children's playground, boating lake etc „
Travel up by car on the A55, or be more environmentally friendly by arriving on the bus, or train, to North Wales and experience the wonderful coastline of the county of Conwy. Come and spend time in the less known area called West Shore. Many tourists visit Llandudno's famous Victorian promenade, on the North side, and don't even know about the second beach, Llandudno's less frequented wild side, three quarters of a mile away, between the limestone headlands of the Great and Little Orme. Go by bus, take the tourist land train, walk or cycle on the brilliant, mostly hard-surfaced, coastal path, or come by train and walk from Deganwy and all of these will bring you beside the Irish sea.
And why is this taking a walk on the wild side? Well, West Shore is exposed, windswept, and if you walk too far, on the flat sands, dangerous, as when you walk out you can easily become trapped by the incoming tide on a sand bank. Once you're surrounded, unless someone spots you, and calls out the wonderful RNIL lifesavers than you risk drowning, many have. That sounds a touch negative but if you act responsibly and cautiously you can have a fabulous time over on the wild side.
The beach usually has Blue Flag status meaning it has passed vigorous testing on quality. So come and join the local people in controlled dog walking (dogs not allowed on beach itself), kite flying/surfing, windsurfing, swimming and canoeing (with extreme caution as the currents are dangerous). It's safer to paddle. The West Shore path is wide and smooth for wheelchair users. The view of Snowdonia is wonderful. I am a little less adventurous and keep closer to the coast line rather than risk a sudden entrapment by the tide. You can sit on the sand, build some class send castles, and picnic too. Alternatively, go to the local, with disabled access, Beach Cafe for food and very tasty homemade cakes. They have a toilet outside which can be used at the request for the key. (This is a bit annoying as you have to walk back up the hill to return the key to staff if no other customers are waiting behind you). There are also public toilets available by the train station (next to the beach) in Deganwy which is around three miles away. There is a West Shore play and display car park and street parking available by the Beach Cafe too but if you can leave your car behind you will experience West Shore with a clear conscience.
I've been here so many times that I have lost count. The only real problem for cyclists is after strong winds the cycle path is covered in sand that have blown from the dunes. You'll probably have to get off the bike and wheel it along.
I have often walked from Conwy but it is a day return walk. Mid-way is Deganwy, where you can board a train which goes from Llandudno Junction to Deganwy to Llandudno. Or disembark at Deganwy and walk beside the railway line and the North Wales golf course. The sea will always be on your left hand side with views across the estuary, where the Conwy River flows into the sea, with views to Conwy Mountain in the south and beyond. If approaching from West Shore from Llandudno or other destinations by bus, look for the 19, 17 and 25 bus services, or the more expensive, but fun open-top tourist bus that goes between the three towns as a hop on hop off service. There are also taxis in the ranks outside Llandudno junction, Conwy and Llandudno train stations. You are not near the main shops but there is a convenience shop, cafe, hotels, hairdresser, and a chip shop with big, tasty, portions. I've enjoyed my walk so much that I've even continued up the Great Orme and back to Conwy but this is a really wild thing to do and your muscles will hurt for a few days afterwards!
The slight downside amongst this rugged beauty is all the boulders and sewage/flood defences may distract slightly from the view so you must look beyond and I can assure you that is easy to do. You will also see the beautiful grasses and the very important Marram grass which protects the dunes and is home to important species of wildlife. The boulders make great shelters for sunbathing or avoiding the wind. In warm summer sun the beach and sea with mountain views could be abroad. When the heather and gorse is in flower the mountains will be golden and purple coated.
Many times I have bumped into people I know for a chat on this path and even strangers will smile and at a minimum say, 'Hiya'. Bird watchers will enjoy the wide variety of coastal and mountain birds from Oyster Catchers to Stonechats.
At the end of the wide walkway at the West Shore part of the costal path, you'll find a children's playground, (slides, sea saw, rocking horse, roundabout, swings and safe material to land on), a putting green, and a model boating lake which, aside from grown men playing with their boats, are swans, ducks and gulls. Please, do not feed the gulls. They learn we are food providers and attack. If you feed swans, or ducks, bread swells up inside them and can kill so please buy bird seed instead.
If you have heard of Lewis Carol you will have heard of 'Alice of Wonderland'. Well, legend has it that the real Alice Liddell, on whom the book is based on, spent her summers here. In recent years the house, facing the sea, was neglected, fell into disrepair and was demolished. That was a sorry day, and a mistake, even if this was the stuff of myth. The council have since become more aware of the bonus that Wonderland can bring to the area and have attempted to do something about the neglected Wonderland statue, by the play area, but their new, oversized, wooden sculptures around Llandudno, in my opinion, are just scary and a little on the grotesque side! Never mind, it's a work in progress!
I've seen brides and grooms posing here for their wedding photographs and what a place to make beautiful memories. West Shore has a tamer side too. Look out to Ynys Mon (Anglesey) and the lighthouse between Puffin Island and the Anglesey village of Penmon. See the sailboats on the horizon. Watch the rising and setting of the sun and enjoy the light play on water. Beautiful!
Llandudno is a beautiful Victorian seaside resort situated on the North coast of Wales. If you look at a map of North Wales you will see that Llandudno is set on a piece of land jutting out into the Irish Sea. The end of this piece of land is the Great Orme Country Park with Llandudno town at its base. If you can visualise this in your mind you will see that Llandudno will actually have two beaches - roughly one facing north and one facing west.
The North Shore is the side where the main town, hotels and shops are. The pier is here as is the theatre and most of the entertainment is on this side of the town.
Before we came to live here in Llandudno I hadn't even realised that the West Shore existed and I bet I am not the only one!
There is a dual carriageway linking the two shores which is called Gloddaeth Avenue and it takes about fifteen minutes to walk from one end to the other. Buses run about every half an hour and, in the summer, there is a road train too. The West Shore is also one of the stops on the Llandudno Tour Bus.
So what is there at the West Shore?
The Beach and The Sea
First of all there is a long sandy beach which gets covered by the tide twice a day so the sand is always nice and clean and is good for making sand castles. The beach has a Blue Flag award so the sea is great for swimming and paddling and there are often kite surfers doing their stunts when the wind is right for them. There are a couple of manmade rocky breakwaters as we do get some high tides in the winter and when the tide goes out there are rock pools to investigate.
A word of warning here though - when the tide comes in there are sand banks out towards the sea and strange currents and, in the past, people have actually drowned trying to swim back from a sandbank to the shore. If you were to get stuck in this situation, stay put and shout for help and the inshore lifeboat will come and collect you - they have had plenty of practice, believe me!
If you stay near the land you can build sandcastles to your heart's content in no danger at all so it is quite safe if you use your common sense.
If you walk up from the sand you will find yourself on a promenade which stretches the full length of the West Shore disappearing around the base of the Great Orme at one end and onto the cycle path heading to Conwy at the other. It is a lovely walk and I often used to take mom in her wheelchair when the weather was good and she loved it.
Between the promenade and the road is an area of grass that is used for games, picnics and general sunbathing.
I will now start at the Great Orme end and tell you what facilities there are here on the West Shore.
Alice in Wonderland
There is a statue of the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland who now stands in a cage as he has already had his ears broken! Apparently Lewis Carroll used to stay in the nearby Gogarth Abbey Hotel with his niece Alice Liddell and it is said that she was his inspiration for Alice in Wonderland. Sadly the Gogarth Abbey has recently been demolished. It was purchased by developers and there were arguments as to whether the story about Alice was true or not and it was eventually decided that it could not be proved. Since the new owner had allowed the building to fall into disrepair anyway he was then allowed to demolish it to make way for the new development whatever that turns out to be.
The Boating Lake
Moving along there is a large boating lake which is now inhabited by swans. Whilst they are beautiful and it is great fun to feed them providing you are careful, they do make an awful mess on the floor. Swan poo is not nice! We don't see many people sailing boats on the lake although there is one man who has made huge scale models of warships and cruise ships and he is often seen sailing them on the boating lake.
Next to the boating lake there is a small putting green which is open during the summer and the clubs and balls can be hired from the nearby building which also houses public toilets. You can also hire deck chairs here, again during the summer of course!
Moving on you come to a children's playground which is level with the end of Gloddaeth Avenue linking the West Shore to the North Shore. It has been refurbished in recent years to provide special flooring under the various items of equipment to give a softer landing for any child who happens to fall.
There is a climbing frame with two slides attached to it, some swings with bars round the seats for the little children and some 'ordinary' swings, a see saw, a rocking horse that seats about six children and a roundabout.
The roundabout is worth a mention as it is flush with the floor so there's no chance of children getting their feet caught underneath it if they fall whilst pushing the roundabout. The other thing that I have never seen before is the fact that it has little gates on it so that wheelchair users can have access to the ride! How good is that?!
I must just tell you a quick story about the see saw. When my Goddaughter was about 10 she came to visit and went out for a walk with her dad and some friends to the play area. She saw another girl there and they both decided to go on the see saw. They jumped on and the see saw settled completely level as they were both the same weight! There they were - stuck - because neither of them could reach the floor and she was most cross because her dad just stood and laughed! He did rescue them eventually of course!
Anyway moving on again you then pass the grassy area and then come to the large pay and display car park at the end of the promenade. The coastal / cycle path leads off from here heading past the golf course down towards Conwy and beyond.
The Beach Cafe is here too and is well worth a visit. I won't say any more about it as I have already done a full review of it earlier this year.
The West Shore is by far the quieter side of town although there are a few good hotels and guest houses here. There are a few shops on the road parallel with the seafront comprising a small supermarket and Post Office, hairdressers, a finance office and a chip shop. Incidentally the food from the chip chop is excellent and the portions are huge!
So there you are, that's what you can find if you venture across to the West Shore. When we first moved to Llandudno we lived in a house on the West Shore (in the same road as the chip shop!) although we have now moved to a cottage on the Orme. The views up here are amazing but I do sometimes miss being able to walk out of the house, turn left and be on the promenade!