Things to do in North Wales

I’ve finally finished my undergraduate degree at Bangor University, and while I’m relieved the stress and deadlines are finally over, I can’t help but be a little overwhelmed with how bittersweet finishing my degree has been. I feel that this is the perfect time to share some of my favourite and most beautiful places in North Wales. These aren’t in any particular order as I’d really struggle to choose, but rather an unordered list of places well worth a visit.

Portmeirion

Portmeirion village

This idyllic village is based on the Italian seaside village of Portofino, by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. Most of the buildings here are actually facades, although there are several shops, a cafe, ice cream parlour and two restaurants. If you’d like to, you can stay as there are 2 hotels and a bunch of cottages here, as well as a spa for those in need of a little TLC. Theres also 19 miles of pathways to walk along, through woodland, coastal paths and gardens. Here you’ll find sights such as the Japanese gardens and Tangle Wood. The gardens boast a collection of 70 Rhododendron species scattered throughout the grounds. Portmerion was the backdrop of the 1960s cult classic ‘The Prisoner’ and is also home to festival No.6 (which runs between 6-9th September this year). For more information on the quirky village click here.

Cable Bay

This may be biased as its my favourite beach, but one of the most beautiful beaches that Anglesey has to offer is cable bay. Just down the road from the town of Rhosneigr, this beach is the perfect hideaway cove. Cable Bay (Porth Trecastell) is a sandy beach with soft sloping dunes with a rocky outcrop to the sides (which I once almost got stranded on during a practical due to rapidly rising tides), which during low tide are perfect for rock pooling. It is a perfect beach for sunbathing, surfing, kayaking and windsurfing. There’s also the Barclodiad y Gawres burial chamber a little walk north.

Point Lynas

Point Lynas is the home to a lighthouse located on the North East corner of Anglesey. The lighthouse dates to the 1700, and today is rented out as holiday cottages that you can stay in. It is situated on a headland, which is walkable and gives you some lovely views- if you’re lucky you can even see dolphins and porpoise from the headland too. The headland havelock formations and sea caves, and in August the headland are covered in a sea of purple Heather.

Snowdon

An obvious choice for something to do in North Wales is to climb Snowdon. As the tallest mountain in Wales, residing at 1,085 metres tall, it is definitely a challenge. If you want scenery then snowdon is for you! There are 6 main routes up; Llanberis Path (The easiest route), Pyg Track, Miners Track, Watkin Path (You can go for a wild swim at the bottom!),Rhyd-Ddu Path (the most scenic) and the Snowdon Rangers Path. There is also Crib Goch, which is the most dangerous way up, and shouldn’t be attempted by inexperienced climbers.

I personally have climbed Snowdon twice, first on the Llanberis Path which I definitely recommend for first timers, and the second time on the Rhyd-Ddu route, which is the most scenic and reminded me a lot of Lord of the Rings. I hope to one day manage all the paths (except for Crib Goch because I’m a chicken).

The Rhyd-Ddu Path up to Mt Snowdon. (Credit to Emily Cooper)

For those unable to do the distance, theres a train that runs all the way up to the café at the top, where you can observe the summit sweat free.

Aber Falls (Rhaeadr Fawr)

Aber Falls, known as Rhaeadr Fawr) is only a 15 minute bus ride from Bangor. Located 2 miles from the village Abergwyngregyn, the waterfall is 120 feet high. There’s a main path that runs straight to the waterfall, but if you’re looking for a more scenic walk on the way there then detouring to a little path to the left is well worth it. Here you get a better view of the surrounding area, and also get to meet the local sheep. The waterfalls themselves are a perfect picnic spot or you could even take a dip in the plunge pool, although it’s ridiculously cold (as my left foot knows very well thanks to gripless shoes and my clumsiness). If you decide continue your walk around the valley, you’ll find a smaller falls to the west known as Rhaeadr Fach, you can continue past this on a footpath however I didn’t go this way. Instead I ended up wandering down a river bank, having a nap there and having my first experience of wild herbs in the form of water mint (which smelt absolutely amazing).

South Stack lighthouse (Ynys Lawd)

South Stack is probably my absolute favourite place on Anglesey to visit (aside from Cable Bay. A picturesque lighthouse not too far from Holyhead with lots of scenic views and the most beautiful sunsets. There are 390 steps down to the lighthouse, but it’s definitely worth it. South stack itself is an RSPB nature reserve, and it’s cliffs are home to 8,000 birds during breeding season. You’ll find birds from guillemots to razorbills, choughs to peregrines and even puffins! It’s also the perfect place to spot dolphins, porpoise and sometimes even whales!

Beaumaris

Beaumaris is a town along the Menai strait on Anglesey, although fairly small in size it has lots to offer. You can find lots of wonderful little shops and one of the nicest ice cream parlours I’ve ever been to. Beaumaris also has its own castle that you can visit, which is a perfect example of an Edwardian castle. But the highlight of Beaumaris for me, was doing a boat tour. The Puffin Island cruise takes you around Puffin Island(Ynys Seiriol), which is just off the eastern tip of Anglesey. The island is a special protection area, and is home to grey seals and a variety of seabirds from Great cormorants to kittiwakes, and most notably its namesake the Atlantic puffin.

Newborough

Newborough is where forests meet sea, a truly magical place. A 3 and a half mile long stretch of sand and shingle, with forest just behind. It’s perfect for a beach BBQ, beach games, a swim or to simply relax. Just off Newborough Beach, is Llanddwyn Island. The island has the ruins of the St Dwynwen church, Tŵr Mawr light house, Tŵr Bach (a beacon), cottages, and lots of free roaming cows. Many seabirds nest here during breeding season, and there are lots of flora and fauna to investigate. Perfect for a sunny day.

Menai Bridge/Church Island

Possibly one of the easiest walks for a Bangor student if you’re wanting to get out of your flat for a revision break and a wander. If you have little legs like me then it’ll take you around 40 minutes of walking at a nice pace to get to Menai Bridge. Menai Bridge was built in 1862 by Thomas Telford, and you can walk right under it. If you go at low tide, you can go rockpooling under the bridge. If not, you can continue along the path under the bridge, to your left you’ll come across the Coed Cerrig Gorsedd an area of woodland where ceremonial stones are placed. These are standing stones used by the ‘Gorseff of the bards’ during the national Eisteddfod.

Continuing on with the path you’ll come across Church island, which is just off the path on a small causeway. Church island is home to St Tysilio’s church, a graveyard and a war memorial. It offers some of the best views of the Menai strait, and the best views between the bridges. Here you can see Menai bridge, Britannia bridge and the Swellies (the most dangerous part of the Menai strait). The war memorial is located up the steps from the front of the island (or a secret windy path at the back if you can find it!) and offers the best views of the Strait.

Church Island at Menai Bridge

Sadly, this is only a small proportion of what North Wales has to offer, and there are many places I didn’t get to visit but wish I had and there are many beautiful places that I’ve visited but not put on this list. But here it is, a little rambling of some of the places I’ve loved the most during my 3 years at Bangor. If you visit any of them, then I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Until next time,

Cate x

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