Wales or Cymru as it is called in Welsh. Join us for a Celtic sightseeing tour; from the imposing castles of Conway, Powys and Cardiff, to Dylan Thomas country and the mountains of Snowdonia.
Snowdonia and Caernarvon Castle
North West Wales contains the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon 3,560ft (1,085mt), hence the area’s name, Snowdonia. There is some spectacular mountain scenery to enjoy, slate or copper mines to visit, learn about hydro-electric power or just sit back and relax on one of the narrow gauge steam railways. If you don’t fancy walking to the top of Snowdon, you can always take the rack and pinion railway built in 1896.
The most famous and perhaps the most impressive of the castles in Wales built by King Edward I is Caernarfon Castle. It took 50 years to build and was the most expensive of his castles.It was intended as his seat of government and a royal palace and today is a World Heritage Site. In 1969 it was the site of the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales. Nearby is the Roman fort of Segontium, dating from 77AD.
The Great Little Trains of Wales
Because Wales was an industrial country, it was covered in small railways taking slate, lead, copper or coal to the coast, or building material to the interior. Many of these narrow gauge railway lines still exist and are run by enthusiastic volunteers, mainly with steam engines. It is a wonderful way to enjoy the breathtaking Welsh scenery and really get off-the-beaten-track. Some railways will even allow you to ride with the engine driver!
Conway and Bodnant Garden
Conway is a World Heritage Site with its medieval castle, complete town walls and historic buildings. Conwy Castle is one of the most picturesque of the Welsh castles built by King Edward I in 1285 to control North Wales. The town walls have 22 towers and 3 original gateways and you can still walk along some sections. The smallest house in Britain, 72ins (1.8mts) wide and 122ins (3.05mts) high, was occupied until 1900.
Bodnant Garden is one of the finest gardens in the country, known for its magnificent collection of rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias, plus its glorious setting above the River Conway and with extensive views of Snowdonia.
Nearby you could visit the Trefriw Woollen Mills at Llanrwst.
Welshpool and Powis Castle
The town of Welshpool holds markets on Saturday and Monday, houses the Welshpool to Llanfair Light Steam Railway and is on the Montgomery Canal.
The world famous pink castle sits on a bluff with enormous clipped yew hedges billowing out below. Powis Castle Garden was influenced by both Italian and French style gardens. The gardens are laid out on terraces and shelter rare and tender plants.
Powis Castle is medieval and was originally built as a fortress by Welsh princes, but was later adapted and enriched by generations of Herberts and Clives. It now contains one of the finest collections of paintings and furniture in Wales
Dylan Thomas’ Wales
Swansea was the birthplace of Dylan Thomas in 1914 and there is a Dylan Thomas Centre in the Maritime Cultural Quarter. His most famous work is ‘Under Milk Wood’ published in 1954. The boathouse at Laugharne was his home with his work-shed just down the road. He is buried in the nearby cemetery.
This is the capital of the Principality of Wales and houses the National Assembly for Wales. Cardiff Castle tells the story of 2,000 years of history from the Romans to the present day. The National Museum and Gallery of Wales houses the largest collection of impressionist paintings in Europe outside Paris.
Nearby is the Welsh Folk Museum at St Fagan’s, one of Europe’s foremost open-air museums, with many different types of buildings re-erected in the 100 acres of parkland.
Castell Coch was the fairytale creation of two men enamoured with the medieval period, the fabulously wealthy 3rd Lord Bute and his architect, William Burges, in 19thc.
Chepstow sits at the southern end of the River Wye and the ruin of the Norman castle dominates the border town, guarding a strategic crossing point. The river forms the frontier between Wales and England.
A little further north is Tintern Abbey, once a Cistercian monastery, but now a picturesque ruin. It is the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales. Turner sketched and painted here, while Wordsworth drew inspiration from the surroundings.
Monmouth boasts a unique medieval gatehouse on the 13thc Monnow Bridge. The castle was the birthplace of King Henry V, the victor of the battle of Agincourt, 1415, and there is also a Nelson Museum with an interesting collection about the life of the famous British admiral, the victor of the Battle of Trafalgar, 1805. The Kymin is a spectacular viewpoint to the east of Monmouth.