North or South Wales

Old Dec 24th, 2010, 03:09 PM
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North or South Wales

We are into castles, small towns, beautiful scenery, etc. While I know that South Wales is closer to Bath (where we will be coming from) which do you recommend. We will have a car and can explore either one for about three or four days. Thank you
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Old Dec 25th, 2010, 11:59 AM
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We enjoyed our brief time in North Wales. We spent part of a day in Conwy visiting the castle, then drove through Caernarvon and spent a couple of nights in Snowdonia National Park. We also visited Portmeirion, which is a lovely Italianate town near Porthmadog.

Lee Ann
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Old Dec 27th, 2010, 08:46 AM
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For dramatic scenery chose North Wales esp Snowdonia National park. South Wales has lovely beaches, castles and lovely towns and villages like Tenby, Saundersfoot and St David's. The time of the year for your visit may also influence you.
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Old Dec 27th, 2010, 09:00 AM
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Not as familiar with South Wales but North Wales certainly fills your bill - with great castles like Beaumarais (Bow-marais'), Conwy and Caernarvon (sp?) to start.

conwy the small town surrounding the castle may make your dream base - it is also near the Great Orme, where you can take the antique tram or hike up to thus fabled hilltop viewpoint.

Mount Snowdon is easily accessible - park at its foot and take the vintage steam trains up or, again, hoof it up on well beaten trails.

The Conwy Valley is dotted with cute old stone-built villages in a lush setting.

and check out Llandudno, a classic if a tad fading seaside resort real close to Conwy.
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Old Dec 27th, 2010, 11:19 AM
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Susan, where are you going after Wales? That could be important to your next destination. Anyways, we stayed in North Wales in www.betws-y-coed.co.uk that was convienent to all of the Northern area. Many good B&B'S. Anothe castle in the North is www.harlech.com Also worth wile visiting is a world class garden, www.bodnantgarden.co.uk Richard
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Old Dec 27th, 2010, 11:53 AM
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The north can offer the aformentioned Bodnant Gardens... and the slate mines...and also the remarkable Italianate Port Meirion (featured in TV's "The Prisoner")..on a recent visit we discovered a handsome country house in the small town of Criccieth. Easy drive to Port Meirion, further to Bodnant and Conwy. My favorite name is a delightful little town..Betwsy-y-Coed.(I believe it's pronounced Bet-oo-sy Coed, which leads visitors to say Betsy Coed). Snowdonia's Llanberis Pass is also easily accessible by car.

http://www.criccieth.net/
fine dining available
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Old Dec 27th, 2010, 01:30 PM
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On a driving trip I did several years ago, I absolutely loved northern and central Wales. The people were great, we had some fine times in Caernafon (probably spelled wrong and I always pronounce it wrong) drinking with the locals. Snowdonia is beautiful. Unfortunately we never made it to the southern side, but I would be willing to be the places and people are just as good.

dave
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Old Dec 28th, 2010, 07:17 AM
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We spent two weeks in north and mid-Wales in September. Loved them both, but they were very different.

North Wales is beautiful. Lots of castles, mountains and great scenery. We hiked to the top of Mt. Snowdon. It was foggy but the sky cleared just as we reached the top. Awesome views. Had some of the best food ever. We also stayed in Betwys-y-coed [never learned to pronounce it in a way anyone understood what we were talking about!]and found it very central for Snowdonia, Conwy, and Anglesey.

Mid-Wales was a different experience, but still lots of castles. Reminded me a bit of Cork with the rolling hills and farmland to the ocean. Spent some time in Aberaeron on market day. Very relaxing, whereas we were constantly on the go in North Wales.

We made it down to Pembrokeshire near St. David's, but did not have much time by then. The cathedral and Bishop's palace are amazing. We walked along the shore and explored ancient sites on a great walk.

So I think it depends on what you like to do. More outdoor active pursuits in North Wales; more outdoor relaxing pursuits in mid and south. Also, fewer people in the north. Of course, this was just our experience in our limited time there.

Actually you can't go wrong whatever you pick. Wales is a wonderful country with very friendly people. We would go back in a heartbeat.
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Old Dec 28th, 2010, 05:10 PM
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We will be coming from Bath via Bristol, so it seems like it would make sense to go to South Wales for three days, then return to Bath, return the car and take the train or bus back to London before flying home. Any additional information- guest houses, B&B suggestions would be appreciated. What does anyone know about Cardiff... I heard it has gotten better through the last five years or so. thank you.
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Old Dec 28th, 2010, 05:21 PM
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Wise choice. Her are a few things to visit in South Wales. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chepstow_Castle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tintern_Abbey www.visitsouthwales.com
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Old Dec 29th, 2010, 03:53 AM
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Given your location, I too think South Wales is best – North Wales is not very accessible from your area - much of central Wales is very rural and the roads narrow, slow and indirect.

The industrial patch of South Wales along the unavoidable M4 between the border and Swansea should be skipped at speed (the M4 is the main artery road along the southern coast). But after Swansea, look into visiting the Gower Peninsula (stunning coastal area) and then push onwards to Pembrokeshire, for castles, villages, dramatic coast and stunning beaches galore. Don't miss St David's for a visit to the smallest cathedral city in the UK and to pay homage to the grave of Wales' patron Saint.
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Old Dec 29th, 2010, 03:56 AM
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(I should add, just to give you an idea of how North Wales is such a hassle to get to from the south that my SO, who hails from just outside Swansea on the south Wales coast, has never ever been! I, on the other hand, hailing from Birmingham in the English Midlands, have been numerous times, because the roads are better).
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Old Dec 29th, 2010, 03:59 AM
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Sorry, forgot to comment on Cardiff. I personally don't think it's worth a stopover, although no doubt others will shout me down. It's a pretty average, not very picturesque, mid-sized city. My welsh SO thinks it's a hole, only good for shopping and watching international rugby matches, generally where Wales thrashes England.
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Old Dec 29th, 2010, 05:41 AM
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Each to their own Kate, just wondering when you last visited Cardiff?

Although Susan, N Wales certainly fits your Bill, in the time you have I would suggest the following in South Wales.

Leave Bath head to Cardiff, stay overnight. Visit:
Cardiff Castle http://www.greatcastlesofwales.co.uk/cardiff.htm

Right in the middle of the Capital City of Wales.

Also visit: The Museum of Welsh life:
http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/stfagans/

Then maybe Llandaff Cathedral:
http://www.llandaffcathedral.org.uk/


Then head west, towards Laugharne (Dylan Thomas Country) area of outstanding natural beauty.

Tenby
http://www.virtualtenby.co.uk/

Saundersfoot
http://www.visitpembrokeshire.com/co...Fcgf4Qodn3E4ZQ

Manorbier

http://www.manorbiercastle.co.uk/

Then head to St Davids Cathedral.

The Pemrokeshire National Park is beautiful and well worth walking some of the coastal Path.

Head back to Bath calling into Ogmore which has an old castle ruin right by the beach.

http://www.castlewales.com/ogmore.html

I live in Cardiff and it is a fantastic cosmopolitan University city, with the Millenium Theatre in the Cardiff Bay area which has bars, restaurants looking out onto the bay. Cardiff also has the Millemium Stadium which hosts some of the great sporting events and concerts.

Yes it has great shopping, but it is certainly not 'a hole' Kate.
If you need more first hand information on Cardiff, let me know.

Muck
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Old Dec 29th, 2010, 05:48 AM
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Here's an edited bit from my trip report of May, '09 concerning southern Wales -- hope it gives you some ideas.


Crickhowell, Wales.

We arrived at our hotel, The Bear, in the late afternoon. Loved this place, though, in truth, our bed could have used replacement, and they might want to lose the carpet in the bathroom (a strange custom which I think is dying out). Whatever, the people were friendly and helpful and the pub/restaurant welcoming and good.

Crickhowell is a pretty town perched between Table Mountain and the River Usk. We’d picked it for its proximity to Tintern Abby, Chepstow Castle and Caerphilly Castle and some good walking in the area. I also like the name, which reminded me of Tolkien’s Crickhollow. That evening, trout were rising to a hatch on the river, and I would have sold my soul for a fly rod.

Thursday Night --

I make the acquaintance of the Reverend. Not the local clergy, but a bitter from Cardiff, the Reverend James. It’s wonderfully malty. The Reverend and I had frequent conversations over the next few days.

Dinner at the pub -- venison pie. A nice light crust and rich sauce.

Friday:

Drive to Tintern Abbey. Park in the lot, locate the Wye Valley Way and set off for Chepstow, five miles away. The trail climbs hard for about 45 minutes, then levels off into some nice meadow and forest. Fiddlehead ferns and bluebells in bloom. Unfortunately, after about three miles we came upon a diversion -- they’re repairing the path -- and had to finish the last two miles on the road. Still, it is always satisfying to have arrived in a new place on foot. Quick lunch at a cafe in Chepstow, then on to the castle.

I had wanted to visit Chepstow ever since reading about it in the book “Life in a Medieval Castle,” which I highly recommend. It’s an interesting place because it was built in stages over the years, and you can trace the development of the new defenses and living quarters.

Taxi back to Tintern. Toured the ruins, found them as evocative as I had twenty years earlier. Shot a lot of pictures, and you will too.

Dinner -- Salmon cakes at the pub. Excellent.

Saturday:

A lot of driving.

Started to Caerphilly Castle. This is an interesting castle, historically, as it was the first to incorporate concentric walls from the beginning. It;s very well preserved. There were arrangements being made for a wedding in the Great Hall -- Chairs draped in white material with ivy fronds attached to the backs with ribbon.

Decided to return to Worm’s Head at the tip of the Gower peninsula, past Swansea. Lunch at the King Arthur Hotel. Very good fish and chips served by a stunning waitress who did not forget us. A little too overcast for the best photos, and there was a tremendous wind blowing, but it is still a dramatic scene. The worm in question is of course a dragon, and not a common earthworm, as the author of certain guidebook which shall remain nameless seemed to think.

Off the Gower and north to Carreg Cennan in the Brecon Beacons -- near a town called Trap. Built in the 13th century by Edward I on a site which had been fortified by iron age people as well as the Romans. The castle stands ruined on the hilltop, the views are superb. Saw a smartly colored magpie in a field on the return.

Back to the hotel. Roundtrip of 200 miles in the trusty A3.

Dinner -- slow braised Welsh lamb shanks on a carrot and parsnip mash. Wow.
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Old Dec 29th, 2010, 05:51 AM
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I absolutely adored northern Wales. Went there with my two young boys in 2004 - stayed with a guide in a little town and travelled all over, many castles, gorgeous hiking. one of my favorite places on earth.
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Old Dec 29th, 2010, 08:42 AM
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I would plan this pretty loosely. I would go to Chepstow and Tintern Abbey, maybe Abergavenny, then the Brecon Beacons National Park, Landeilo, Carreg Cennan, and Tenby on the coast, skipping the cities on the coast.

Then I would drive north to Snowdonia, to Dolgellau and on to Blaenau Festiniog, where you can spend half a day on the narrow guage train down to the coast and back. Follow the A470 to Betwys y Coed, through Llanwyrst, and up the Conwy Valley to Conwy, a walled town. Skip Llandudno and turn down the coast to Caernarfon and its huge castle.

You could do all of this in 4 days, though there is a lot of looking out car windows at scenery. But since it is virtually certain to be raining for at least one of the days, you will be happy in the car. There is a lot of scenery, many castles, interesting market towns, etc.

You don't say when you are planning to go, but this is a heavily touristed area in the summer (mostly UK residents) but otherwise you might be happiest stopping in at the local tourist office about 4 in the afternoon and see what kind of B&B they could find for you.
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Old Dec 29th, 2010, 08:42 AM
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I honestly wish we could do both- but we have only nine days and we would like to spend three nights in London, two nights in Bath and then onto Wales. So we're limited and have to make do with the time we have without exhausting ourselves. My partner has a handicap and therefore, hiking is out of the question. So that limits a lot right there. Thanks for all this great information.
Susan
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Old Dec 29th, 2010, 08:59 AM
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I'd recommend Cardiff Castle as a 'must see' and Castell Coch is pretty amazing too.
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Old Dec 29th, 2010, 12:02 PM
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Your right bellini.

Castle Coch (Red Castle) is also very interesting to visit.

http://www.castlewales.com/coch.html

Also Caerphilly castle as Fra_Diavolo says.

http://www.castlewales.com/caerphil.html

Both within 25 mins drive maximum from Cardiff City Centre.

Muck
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