My Welsh won­der

On a trip to North Wales, Lisa Gray stayed in Llan­dudno and vis­ited a child­hood haunt – stun­ning Conwy Castle

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL -

NORTH Wales has been a favourite hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion of Manch­ester fam­i­lies for gen­er­a­tions. Ever since sea­side hol­i­days be­came the fash­ion dur­ing Vic­to­ria’s reign, we have been flock­ing to the Conwy area with our buck­ets and spades to tuck into ice cream and breathe in that inim­itable sea air.

But the Conwy bor­ough of 2016 – Wales’ of­fi­cial Year of Ad­ven­ture – is more than just some­where to un­wind by the sea.

With out­door pur­suits to en­joy, his­tor­i­cal at­trac­tions to visit and a vi­brant foodie scene, the area of­fers plenty to tourists of all ages.

Llan­dudno is surely the ar­che­typal sea­side re­sort, com­plete with land­mark pier, lengthy prom­e­nade and more fish ‘n’ chip shops than you can shake a cod at. And where bet­ter to stay than the best ho­tel in Wales?

This ac­co­lade was of­fi­cially be­stowed upon the stun­ning St Ge­orge’s Ho­tel by the AA last year, and it is well-de­served.

Oc­cu­py­ing prime po­si­tion on the seafront, the grand, white build­ing boasts ex­pan­sive views of the Great Orme and pier and is just a stone’s throw from Llan­dudno’s busy shop­ping cen­tre.

The in­te­rior is suit­ably el­e­gant and com­bines old-word grandeur with modern ameni­ties, while a lucky few rooms boast bal­conies with sea views – per­fect for peo­ple­watch­ing af­ter a long day in the great out­doors.

One must-visit des­ti­na­tion is the pic­turesque town of Conwy, an easy 15-minute drive from the ho­tel or pleas­ant 90-minute walk if you’re feel­ing more en­er­getic.

Hav­ing vis­ited the area as a child, I was happy to find it was largely un­changed 25 years on, the his­toric walls con­tin­u­ing to pro­tect the de­lights within.

Conwy Castle must be one of the best-pre­served ex­am­ples of his­toric British ar­chi­tec­ture, proudly dom­i­nat­ing the sky­line for more than 700 years. For a rea­son­able charge of £7.95 (adults), it is pos­si­ble to ex­plore the Ed­war­dian fortress in depth, chapel, tow­ers and all, with breath­tak­ing views from the high­est tur­rets on a clear day.

A short stroll away, on the town’s quay, is the Small­est House in Great Bri­tain, one of the most quaint and charm­ing of our na­tion’s at­trac­tions.

Oc­cu­pied by a fish­er­man un­til 1900, when it was de­clared un­fit for habi­ta­tion, it has a floor area of just 10ft by 5.9ft. For just £1, you can go in­side and imag­ine how the pre­vi­ous oc­cu­pants sur­vived – es­pe­cially en­ter­tain­ing for younger vis­i­tors.

While on the quay, you can sam­ple freshly caught fish del­i­ca­cies, in­clud­ing crab or try to catch some your­self with the cheap­lypriced buck­ets and equip­ment on sale.

Speak­ing of food, the ho­tel’s on-site Ter­race Restau­rant pro­vides a well-judged bal­ance of tra­di­tional and modern dishes, served with those lovely sea views as a bonus.

Dishes such as Ca­jun spiced beef fil­let with cu­cum­ber salsa, lime and chilli jelly and co­rian­der aioli and plaice fil­let with spinach, smoked salmon, crushed pota­toes, baby fen­nel and lob­ster, mus­sel and prawn chow­der are hap­pily washed down with one of the ho­tel’s good se­lec­tion of wines.

Fur­ther foodie at­trac­tions in­clude Bod­nant Welsh Food Cen­tre, a short drive away, with its own tea room, farm shop, dairy, win­ery and cook­ery school.

Thrill seek­ers are well-served by at­trac­tions such as the tub­ing and to­bog­gan cen­tre at the Llan­dudno Ski Slope and Snow­board Cen­tre, a must for fam­i­lies, as well as Zip World, a short drive away at Bethesda, which houses the fastest zip line in the world – a fun and ex­hil­a­rat­ing day out.

But surely the big­gest at­trac­tion of Conwy is its beautiful scenery.

The ho­tel staff are more than happy to ad­vise on the many hik­ing, walk­ing and cy­cling op­por­tu­ni­ties nearby.

This stun­ning land­scape of coast, hills and val­leys is surely the rea­son we have been re­turn­ing to the area for so long – and a fea­ture that makes this a des­ti­na­tion like no other.

●● Conwy Castle and, in­set, the Small­est House In Great Bri­tain

●● The ex­te­rior of the St Ge­orge’s Ho­tel, Llan­dudno

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