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North Wales Daze: Lladudno, Great Orme & North Wales

North Wales Daze: Lladudno, Great Orme & North Wales

Sep 24th, 2007, 08:33 AM
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North Wales Daze: Lladudno, Great Orme & North Wales

Author: PalenQ
Date: 09/24/2007, 11:32 am
For years i had heard about the Great Orme, which hovers over the still hopping seaside resort of Llududno, which made a great base for me for hopping by bus and train to several fine sights and places in North Wales.

But it was the Great Orme and it's tiny tram-like train that took me up towards the summit of this huge rocky prominence overlooking the North Wales coastline from several hundred feet up.

Up top were walking paths near which big horned sheet and goats if i remember correctly grazed.

I walked up along the train tracks and then down to Llududno by a steeply descending path.

Llududno turned out to be a great base - a slightly fading seaside resort but still lively enough - though that may not be the right word as the town now seemed to cater to senior citizen groups who came to stay in its once stately seaside hotels featuring large ballrooms in which they danced to the old tunes at night.
I arrove here by train on a Saturday and the town was hopping with shoppers flocking here from nearby towns.
There were several popular tea shoppes and the usual trappings of the seaside prominade - here a wide large boardwalk and a fine beach.

From Lladudno i day tripped to several places, including Mount Snowdon, Caernarferon (sp?), Beaumarais - one of the finest castles i've ever seen - Conwy - a fearsome walled town near Llududno, and thie Conwy Valley and Betsy-Coed, and the Ffestiniog Railway.

Lladudno has a raft of very affordable B&Bs and the usual hotels along the seafront.

It has good rail service and bus service.

The first thing i learned on arrival was that Llandudno was prounced it seemed with a clickin K or C sound at the beginning - kind of like Clan-dude-no to me but no doubt that is not exactly correct.

But it's definitely not Land-dudno.

TBC reminescing about the day trips.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 12:27 PM
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Glad you liked Llandudno, it is my favoured base for visiting north Wales. It's ideally placed for day trips to the mountains, castles, Bodnant gardens, etc. We've had many good weekend breaks there.
Maria_H is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 01:27 PM
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Glad you are getting your tonsils around Welsh PalenQ! Think of the Dutch g sound and add an l - that will be pretty close to the Ll sound in Welsh, and it is did-no not dude-no.
Haven't been back for years, but I used to love the Great and Little Ormes. Those Vikings got every where!
Beaumaris castle is great isn't it.
Oh and it is Bettws y Coed (Bet-ooss i coyd, kind of)not Betsy Coed, I think she goes to a school somewhere near you
hetismij is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 03:38 PM
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Thanks for the comments. We followed much of the same route when we visited Llandudno last year. Brings back happy memories, thanks for sharing
travelinwifey is offline  
Sep 25th, 2007, 08:12 AM
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My first foray out of Llandudno was to the nearby Conwy, just across the River Conwy estatuary from the peninsula Llandudno caps.
I took the train to the Llandudno Jct station (on the mainline London-Holyhead) and then decided to walk the mile or so to Conwy though i could have taken a train as well.

Conwy is a fine fine walled town and i traipsed along the ramparts most of the way around. there is the castle of your dreams as well.

Conwy is a perfectly intact ancient town and every street is worth exploring. The train line as i remember goes right under the castle - burrowed into rocks.

Then i hopped on the train and went east to Colwyn Bay, a resort i had heard about - great beaches, etc. but not the character of Llandudno.

NEXT BEAUMARAIS CASTLE AND GRITTY BANGOR
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 26th, 2007, 07:15 AM
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BANGOR AND BEAUMARAIS
Took the train to Bangor and walked thru this hard-scrabble town to the bus station in the town centre to go to Beaumarais Castle.

It was an interesting bus ride for sure. The driver was a rather tough looking tattooed and ear-pierced Welsh guy who would lapse between English and Celtic with passengers. I was rather surprised that so much Celtic or Gaellic or whatever, Welsh i guess, was still being spoken in daily life.

Bus took some really narrow back roads to Beaumarais, a rather tony it seemed small town on the sea. The reason for coming here is to see the castle of your dreams - Beaumarais ("Bow-mar-us" or something like that)

The castle is plopped right near the sea and stands alone, with pastures and grass around its walls, about the only thing left of this once-fearsome citadel.

Though there were a few rooms open with proper museum artifacts and exhibits the castle captures affection mainly from the outside from where it appears to be a perfect medieval bastion.

I walked thru a pasture with cows in it to a rise where there was a bench and had a picnic, framed by the wide seascape and castle below.

The little village had some neat pubs and buildings but otherwise there is little reason to linger here after doing the castle.

Returning to Bangor i looked around the rather tattered High Street which seemed like a trip back in time - something out of the 50s back home. I think there was a Woolworth's and a small supermarket and not much else.

Not much reason to linger in Bangor so i returned to Llandudno and headed to the seaside boardwalk where local youths were huddled in the ubiquitous seaside kiosks smoking pot and drinking.

NEXT: CAERNAFRON CASTLE & TOWN

PalenQ is offline  
Sep 26th, 2007, 10:31 AM
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Welsh is the first language of most people in the Bangor area. Always has been. My relatives come form the area and I used to understand Welsh and be able to speak a bit , but the grey cells have siezed up and i conn't maneage it any more.
It always was a grey town, but the Uni provides some life. If you think Bangor is bad you should have visited the village of Bethesda -(the ancestoral home) based on Slate Quarrying and not much else it is a bit grim, but the Ogwen Valley is stunning.
The area has a high unemployment rate due to the collapse of quarrying and being outside the NP it doesn't benefit much from tourism.
Whilst I liked the castle at Beaumaris it was always a sad little town. I know it has revived since I was last there, and the new marina will further ïmprove"it, if you like that sort of thing. It will also deprive the local fishermen of their livelihood.
hetismij is offline  
Sep 26th, 2007, 02:08 PM
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PalenQ- you passed my house when you were on the bus on those "really narrow back roads near to Beaumaris" !
I just wish one of them had been running tonight when I returned to Bangor and had to get a taxi!
Its pretty cold here tonight.
Call next time.
Frances is offline  
Sep 27th, 2007, 07:12 AM
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Frances - small roads, small world!

CAERNAFRON CASTLE & TOWN

The next day i had ambitious plans to see Caernafron and its famous castle and then head to Mt Snowdon and take the steam train up that pile to the summit.

I again trained to dour Bangor and changed to a bus to Caernafron, a cute seaside stone-built town dominated by one of the prettiest castles i've seen.

the castle of course is famous for being the venue of the Prince of Wales investiture and a museum there had lots of photos of the most recent one, when Prince Charles officially became Prince of Wales (poor Welsh!)

Again the town is most pleasant and there was also an incredibly tiny steam (i think) train running out of town.

But an inviting as this tiny, one of The Great Little Trains of Wales, was, i was off for bigger things - Mt Snowdon so hopped a bus to Llanberis ("k-k-g-lan beris i guess) to begin my Snowdon adventure - and what an adventure it would become - rather a fiasco due to very poor planning on my part.

NEXT ASCENIDNG MT SNOWDON AND A PERILOUS FOOLISH DESCENT
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 28th, 2007, 02:35 AM
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I'm really enjoying your reports PalenQ!

Reading my hometown described as gritty and dour does raise a smile.

Its interesting to see that you managed to visit so many places using public transport. I always had the impression that the train/bus services were poor.



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Colin is offline  
Sep 28th, 2007, 08:08 AM
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julie - maybe i was too harsh on Bangor - it just seemed rather down on its heels compared to other U.K. towns but it was pleasant enough and the people and bus drivers, etc. were extremely friendly - real down-home type unpretentious folk.

And yes there is no problem getting around North Wales by bus or train - frequent services and with the Wales Rover pass, if still available, dirt cheap.

I loved the buses where i heard so much Welsh being spoken and how folks could so easily switch from English to Welsh. I believe everyone must speak Welsh.

And i loved the green and red Welsh flags i frequently saw.

In Llandudno opposite my B&B there was a big Welsh flag draped over an upper floor window of a flat and at night it was illuminated by the room's light - i loved the spector of the flag.

I just loved Wales, especially North Wales - i've done South Wales too but for me this area of North Wales, with so many interesting things in a very small area, is one of the U.K. best tourist spots.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 01:26 AM
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No, come to think of it Bangor actually gritty and dour !

It's great to hear you enthuse about North Wales. It's a beautiful part of the world.

Looking forward to reading about your Snowdon experience!

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Oct 3rd, 2007, 08:22 AM
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SNOWDON FIASCO

From Caernafron i hopped a bus to Llanberis - the bus went along a nice lake before the town, which seemed near totally oriented to tourists as it was the staging area for the ascent of Mount Snowdon.
Though most folks were hopping the old tiny-gauge steam train that chugs up to the summit Yr Wyddfa lying at an altitude of 1,085 m (3,560 ft) above sea level, others were joining trekking groups who apparently tackle the summit on any of several different routes, each of various difficulty.

And there were many ramblers as well who would trek straight up along the railroad on an easy walking path.

I took the train and bought a round-trip ticket, which was about the same as one way, keeping in mind that i would like to walk down but i'd see one i got to the top as the weather was dicey.

The open-air train ride was great - this, one of the famous Great Little Trains of Wales, zigzagged up the immense pile of rocks - the train crew feeding the steam engine. Like many folk i saw in Wales - bus drivers, etc. the train crew had a rough and tumble look to them - one middle age crewman was tatooed and had a big earring - a bit unusual for someone his age i thought.

At the summit the views over much of Wales and of the coasts were of course fantastic - there was a small pile of rocks that many folks climbed as did i to get to the very summit of Britain's tallest mountain south of the Scottish Highlands.

I went into the information office and asked about walking down - the various routes as the weather seemed to pick up. My goal was to take the Pyg Trail down to Pen-y-Pass (? not sure of name) and the youth hostel there where there would be a bus back to Betws-y-Coed, which hetismij in above post says is pronounced: "Bettws y Coed (Bet-ooss i coyd, kind of, not Betsy Coed")

So it was in October when days were getting short and it was about 3pm when i set off for the seemingly straight forward (tourist office lady said) and easy ramble down to some lakes and onto the hostel - or so i thought.

NEXT: TERRIFYING HIKE DOWN SNOWDON





Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and the highest British mountain south of the Scottish Highlands, is "probably the busiest mountain in Britain" [1]. It is located in Snowdonia National Park (Welsh: Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri). The summit is known as Yr Wyddfa (IPA: [ɐɾ 'wɪðva], Welsh for "the tumulus" [2]), and lies at an altitude of 1,085 m (3,560 ft) above sea level. As the highest peak in Wales, Snowdon is one of three mountains climbed as part of the National Three Peaks Challenge. The English name Snowdon comes from the Saxon "Snow Dun", meaning "snow hill", although the amount of snow on Snowdon in winter has been decreasing recently, having dropped by more than 55% since 1994 [3].

Snowdon has one of the wettest climates in Great Britain, receiving an annual average of more than 4,500 mm (180 in) of precipitation [4].

Pen-y-Pass

Pyg Trail - lakes
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 03:52 AM
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Hi PalenQ - what happened to your "terrifying hike down Snowdon" or is it too traumatic to tell? I was looking forward to the tale having hiked up and down it several times (not that recently though) and had my own terrifying experience being dragged along the Snowdon Horseshoe route by an over-enthusiastic other half and fearing he might need to call the mountain rescue team when I froze with terror at the top of Crib Goch!
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Oct 26th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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Maria thanks for the interest

Ah yes the walk down to youth hostel at Llanberis Pass

I had a return train ticket but thought about walking down if it weren't too difficult terrain and could do in my running shoes

I asked the information office up there and she said though there was a rather steep initial part the trail was fine - no difficult.

Well apparently i lost track of that trail - i did do a steep descent but not dangerous but somewhere the trail evaporated - there are no signs on these trails that i saw -

and i ended up looking down a boulder slide where i had to hop from rock to rock to keep going down. Turning back was not an option - i did not want to wimp out and the steep climb back did not appeal to me and i knew the time of the last bus from Llanberis Pass youth hostel back to Betws-y-Coed, but i was concerned i would not make the bus at this pace even though i could see a small lake far below and a tractor trail going from it on down to hostel but going was so slow it seemed very far off

so i hopped from rock to rock and a few times nearly lost my balance - could have fallen into a small crevice and been hurt, etc. I did not have a cellphone to call Mountain Rescue, which i did not even know existed.

But as i was slowing hop hopping down lo and behold some real alpinist type skipped right by me and called out "y'all right" I said yes - he saw my timidity i guess.

But he gave me hope that i was going the right way which i was not at all sure about.

I finally got to the lake and the wide vehicle trail and suddenly the walk became very neat - as always it's the more frightening or uncomfortable travel experiences that become cherished memories after the fact and a proud accomplishment

I never would have taken the trail if i had known the true nature of it and i think i really was on the trail.

I then sauntered down the trail to Pen-y-Pas hoping i was in time for the bus to Betws-y-Coed

I walked around this lovely stone-built village with its verdant parklike setting and hopped the sweet Conwy Valley train back to Llandudno Junction and on to Llandudno, feeling tired but satisfied at a day well spent.

Maria - from what i've said do you think i could have been on the proper trail down the those two lakes and onto the hostel?

thanks
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 08:10 AM
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Great report. Can you clarify something for me? From Chester I went via train to Lladudno junction, then walked to a town and across a bridge to Conwy. Would that town have been Lladudno? Could I have taken the train from Lladudno Junction?
rogeruktm is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 08:18 AM
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You walked to Conwy as i did across the bridge and you perhaps could have seen Llandudno far to the direct south from the bridge - some of its taller buildings

There are trains, shuttle trains mainly, from Llandudno Junction to Llandudno itself, about three miles away and buses run also between the two.

so you did not pass thru Llandudno or near it going to Conwy

Another fiasco was when on a Sunday i returned by train to Llandudno Jct from Bangor and found the last train to Llandudno had left and i could not find a bus either so set off on foot, thinking i knew the way

It was getting dark and i ended up in some cow field, crossing it hoping to find a way out and did, finally on a main road into Llandudno.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 08:32 AM
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Thanks. It has been awhile and after reading your report I am thinking of changing my winter trip. If spending a couple of nights in the area, would you consider staying in Conwy or better in Lladudno?
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Oct 26th, 2007, 08:41 AM
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Conwy is a sleepy town no doubt in winter so if you like quiet and nothing going on do that

I'd take Llandudno because even in winter it has a modicum of liveliness - mainly senior citizens it seemed when i was there coming on packages and many were doing ballroom dancing in the once grand hotel ballrooms at night (I looked in) and Llandudno has a great boardwalk and seafront and many shops and pubs, where Conwy has little of these

so it's really a matter of taste. Conwy of course is one of UK's neatest walled old towns with a fine castle lording over it.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 02:22 AM
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I'm surprised at anyone recommending any of the tracks on Snowdon, if you weren't wearing hiking boots. The mountain rescue team are often called out and Snowdon regularly claims lives, usually the unwary, inadequately dressed walker, often caught out by rapid changes in weather. An 11 year old boy, out with his family, fell to his death only last week.

I have been down (or up?) the Pyg Track - but quite some years ago now so my memories are a bit hazy. I do remember a steep zig-zagging track from the top ridge down to the lakes, so assume you may have strayed a bit from the main zig-zags - these paths can be difficult to follow, as people are prone to take short cuts as they try to avoid eroded sections. Fortunately you got down in one piece!

On a good day Snowdon is an exhilerating walk and the views can be fantastic. I have never been up on the train though, as yet - my husband considers it cheating and is saving that 'til we're old and grey - not too long to wait then
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