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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Conwy - a perfect stopover

On Friday morning Emi, the WonderDog and I blew town super early (in the wagon and rolling by 4:15 a.m.) on our way to Ireland. I’m not sure when super late morphs into super early, but I'd wager that a number of the folk we met in the early stages of our journey were on their way home after a fun night out. 

My cunning plan - that involved getting up at such a demented hour - was to try and get past Birmingham and the M6 before the traffic got ugly. I’ve been scarred by the traffic in that neck of the woods before, which is saying something for a Londoner. But I’m happy to report that, this time, my cunning plan worked brilliantly. So well in fact that we were on schedule to arrive 4 hours early for our sailing, which is just a smidgeon too early, even for a control-freak like me.

So I started casting around for other things to do, and hit upon the idea of a short detour into Conwy. My travel buddies were more than up for a little unscripted adventure that took us off our normal route.

Conwy Castle, Wales
Conwy Castle, Wales 



Just a word of advice for anyone who’s never been before: you totally have to go to Conwy. It’s a little gem of a place. The whole town is walled, and there, sitting proud on the edge of town, is the most magnificent castle guarding the walls and the sea approach. It sits in a sheltered bay, where the tidal range appears to be extreme. When we were there the boats were bottomed on the sand, and it looked like it would be a good long push to get many of them back in the water.


Conwy, Wales
Conwy, Wales


Conwy, Wales
Conwy, Wales

The story goes that back in the  thirteenth century when Edward I set about building his ring of castles in Wales to control the Welsh he sent his great military architect James of St. George d'Esperanche down this way to build a castle. Work began in 1283, and by 1289 this glorious castle was pretty much completed.



Conwy, Wales
Conwy, Wales

A garrison and a small community of English settlers were then housed behind its high curtain walls. 


Aberconwy House, Conwy, Wales
Aberconwy House, Conwy, Wales
Wandering around the streets we came upon the stunning house (above). This is Aberconwy House, one of the oldest houses in town. It's a merchant's house dating from the 14th century. 

Further up the street we came to Plas Mawr, a town house built for the Wynn family in 1576. 


Plas Mawr, Conwy, Wales
Plas Mawr, Conwy, Wales
I chanced upon a lovely old chap down at the bowling green, who was mowing the most immaculate lawn I’ve ever seen outside of my dreams. When I remarked upon the mud flats and how dramatic the difference between high tide and low tide appeared to be, he told me that it was huge. And then, when they have a neap tide, why, my goodness me, the water has been know to come all the way over his wonderful bowling green. Spending as much time as I do beside the always-in-the-same-place Mediterranean it always amazes me just how dramatic our tides are here in the UK.

Conwy, Wales
Conwy, Wales
Back in the day they think this amazing castle would have been clad in a white limestone wash, so that it would have positively gleamed against the dark background of the surrounding land. The Welsh had not, up until that point, been much accustomed to stone-built castles, so they must have really wondered what had arrived in their midst.

Conwy Castle, Wales
Conwy Castle, Wales
We strolled around, spoilt for choice with all the wonderful things to admire.



Sadly we didn’t have time to go inside the castle. They hadn’t opened for business when we passed by, and we simply didn’t have enough time for me to feel relaxed about waiting for them to open – next time … there’s definitely going to be a next time for this place.


Conwy Castle, Wales
Conwy Castle, Wales

And on our way back to the carpark we spotted this regal lady sitting on her nest, just above the river bank. 




If you find yourself cruising across Anglesey with ample time to spare before your ferry crossing to Dublin, this is just about the best place to kick your heels and kill that hour or two that will weigh heavily if you have to park up and wait on the quayside in Holyhead.

All the best for now,


Bonny x



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