Ok, so this was meant to be one post but I’ve got far too over-excited tapping away that it’s inadvertently become two! So here is part number one….
So, to many experienced travellers, an excursion to Wales may not seem the most exciting of destinations for a summer holiday. However, one thing I’ve learnt by being brought up by a money-savvy mother is not to scoff at a cheap and cheerful getaway… After all, one cheap holiday makes way for a more extravagant one further down the line!
In this post, I’m hoping to convince you all what a little, underappreciated gem Wales is and a few ideas of things to keep you entertained without blowing too much dollar!
The first thing I would say is that Wales is most definitely a holiday for the “doers.” Unlike the Mediterranean and other more exotic locations, this is the UK we’re talking about so it’s unlikely (though you may strike lucky) to be warm enough to while away the day basking in the sun, getting a tan. Despite the lack of tropical climate, there is still a multitude of things to keep any traveller entertained so here are a few…..
Conwy HAS to be the top of your list!
There is something here for everyone! The castle is magnificent, though a little precarious under foot so if you aren’t a fan of heights, brace yourself! However, the views from the top are worth the climb and will definitely settle anyone’s nerves! There’s a nice amount of easy to read info about the castle history (which I like because I’m a lazy sod and hate reading long paragraphs) and In the central courtyard there’s often demonstrations and medieval attractions ( I was very tempted to be dressed up in full armour but I felt pushing the eager 7-year-old out the way may have been a bit mean) to educate and entertain guests.
We spent the afternoon gazing at the fantastic views from the great height of the castle towers, walked the perimeter wall around Conwy town and eating Welsh rarebit 👌 You can combine your ticket for a very reasonable price (£7 all in for a student! £8 for adults) with a visit to Plas Mawr – an Elizabethan town house. I really enjoyed wandering the restored nobleman’s home seeing how people lived all those years ago and the bonus is you get a little audio box which teaches you about each room as you go around, like having your own personal tour guide!
Next, we took a walk down to the harbour which is a beautiful place to sit with your sandwiches or an ice cream and observe the bustle of this busy little place. On the harbour front are a number of brightly coloured market stalls selling their wares and sat with a perfect view of it all is Britain’s smallest house. It’s £1 to go in to have a look around, and for the sake of the price of an ice cream, I’d say it’s worth it. The little place has only two rooms and its last occupant if you can believe it was a sailor who was over 6 feet tall! Conwy harbour is also the ideal place to go crab fishing. This definitely provides entertainment for all ages and the lifeboat people sell all the gear you need to be an ace crab catcher and all proceeds go to the lifeboat fund (fun for a good cause!).
If the harbour has inspired the seafaring creature in you, hop on a tourist boat which takes you out of the harbour and follows the coast line. The companies are dog friendly and you can choose between hour and half hour tours, which are reasonably priced. The views were fabulous and it was hands down my favourite part of our Conwy visit and I couldn’t recommend it more highly!
When you’re done at the harbour, head into the town itself, the quaint little streets are beautiful just to walk around and soak up the scenery. For the enthusiastic shoppers amongst you, there’s a number of charity shops. My family are all self-professed charity shop queens so jump at the chance to hunt around “novel charity shops” for a good bargain. But if second hand isn’t your thing, there’s the vintage toy shop which has you feeling a wave of nostalgia and the Delhi for if you’re a fellow foodie like me (the cheese is to die for). There’s also a national trust shop which sells beautiful things, again for a good cause, ideal for gifts for the family (or just yourself!) and a Christmas shop which I imagine is great come December … but was a little odd for us in the middle of June! Basically, there’s something to suit all novel shopping tastes!
Zip world; One for the Adrenaline Junkies!
On possibly the worst day of weather we had, we’d booked to go on the longest zip wire in Europe. Tentatively peering out the window that morning we were sceptical about if we’d be zipping that day at all! Thankfully by the afternoon, the weather had cleared and we got suited up in incredibly attractive gear (My sister Sophie squeezed herself into the tightest jump suit she could find to show off her curves and looked like she was auditioning for the next Bond girl rather than braving the weather to go zip-wiring!). The zip-wire is a fabulous experience for any adrenaline junkie, but I would urge any self-proclaimed wuss to give it a go too! My sister hates rides and anything coupled with an adrenaline kick, but braved the rain and the heights and gave it a go. She came off grinning having really enjoyed it so I encourage anyone, even if it’s not usually your “cup of tea”, to try it.
Zipworld is located in some of the old slate mines, something Wales is famous for, and proud of, and in addition to the number of zipwires (one of which takes you head first at 100mph, the fastest zipwire in the world!), you can try your hand at abseiling, rock-climbing and mountaineering in the underground caverns or, if you fancy something more light-hearted, you can explore the underground by trampoline in the bounce caverns. On site there’s also the Slate Mines to explore if you fancy coupling your activities with something more educational, it’s really worth cramming these things all in one day if possible as you get a 20% discount on each additional activity you try.
If you enjoyed your time at the slate mines and are hungry for more, the company also own a forest a short drive away. Here you can swing from the trees like Tarzan and try other high-intensity activities like the leap of faith.
So, this was part one of my Wales adventure hit-list, more to come soon!