Have you ever had such a great time on a holiday that, as soon as you get home, you check out the house prices in the place you were staying? That’s me this week!
Last weekend we were invited to visit North Wales as part of the Visit Wales Year of Adventure campaign. With the aim of inspiring you to “Find Your Epic“, the campaign is all about stepping outside, discovering the fantastic landscape and experiences that Wales has to offer, and doing something amazing.
Now obviously we love a family adventure in the great outdoors, but we’ve never really explored Wales before, so we were raring to go. We did our homework and decided to base ourselves in Snowdonia in North Wales; with beautiful beaches, traditional seaside towns, historic buildings and stunning landscape all on offer, it seemed like the perfect option for a family break.
We travelled down from the Midlands on Thursday night and stayed in Llandudno. We arrived in the dark, so waking up to this beautiful seafront on Friday morning was a rather lovely start.
As soon as they saw the sand the kids were off, I love how a beach never fails to fill them with energy and sparkle. And the weather! It felt like a Spring morning for the first time this year, we couldn’t quite believe our luck.
Llandudno is a beautiful old Victorian seaside town, packed with original architecture along the seafront and the high street. It’s situated next to the Great Orme, a mini-mountain limestone headland. The Vikings named it, and Great Orme means ‘sea monster’, which makes complete sense when you stand on the beach and see it looming up on your left.
We had planned to take the cable car up to the top of Great Orme, but it isn’t open until later in Spring when the holiday season really gets underway. So instead we climbed up to a lookout point to check out the town and pier from above.
Look at those mountains in the background – just stunning. This was the first of the many times we felt the sheer size of nature during our trip, there’s nothing like an amazing view to give you a little perspective is there?
After clearing the cobwebs on the hilltop we headed off to Conwy castle for some medieval history.
Now this is an impressive place to take the kids. Before you even enter, the size of it takes your breath away, and once you’re inside it’s so well-preserved and atmospheric, you really felt like you’ve stepped back in time.
The castle is situated on a rock above the Conwy estuary, and was built by the English king Edward I in the late 1200’s as part of his ‘iron ring’ of castles intended to contain the Welsh. Wandering around the rooms, winding staircases and battlements is perfect for firing up your imagination; you can really picture what it must have been like to live here and imagine the fierce battles that would have taken place. Being able to get so hands-on was brilliant for the kids; our nine year old in particular was completely absorbed in the fantasy the whole time we were there.
Obviously the castle was built on a hill for defence purposes, but this also gives the added bonus of another beautiful view to enjoy. By this point in our trip we were starting to realise that it was going to be breathtaking scenery all the way…
After a few hours of medieval exploring, we headed back to Llandudno to experience the more traditional side of the seafront.
Llandudno pier is the longest in Wales and was built in the 1800’s. It’s another beautifully preserved piece of architecture, and has Grade II listed status. Yes, there are modern seaside amusements at the end, but strolling along still feels quaintly old-fashioned.
We just managed to squeeze in a little more beach time before sunset. After a hectic day of exploring, there was a lovely calmness as we watched the light fade and quietly enjoyed each other’s company. I do love how nature can do this without you even realising it’s happening.
We waved goodbye to Llandudno and headed off to Barmouth, the next stop on our adventure. Barmouth is located on the west coast of Snowdonia and is a great family base for exploring; it’s bordered by the Mawddach estuary and Cardigan Bay, sits at the foothills of Snowdonia, has a huge beach and a great family-friendly bike/walking trail.
We had planned two activity options for Saturday, depending on the weather; either a hill climb or the estuary bike ride. Saturday morning was wet and misty, not the safest conditions for an unguided climb. A family bike ride it was then!
The Mawddach estuary trail runs for 9.5 miles from Dolgellau to Barmouth. It’s pretty much flat the whole way, making it easy going for children – not to mention dads pulling trailers!
We hired bikes in Dolgellau and did the route both ways. The weather was pretty wet for the first half, that didn’t make the scenery any less magical though.
It’s a strange landscape along the estuary; you’re in a very flat area but also flanked by those ever-present mountains, and it feels like being on the moors but you can also sense the presence of the sea. Very atmospheric, and very wild.
The trail finishes with the iconic railway bridge over the estuary mouth into Barmouth; a long, brilliantly bumpy crossing which the kids loved.
We definitely earned our chips on Barmouth beach 🙂
Fuelled by carbs, we turned the bikes around and cycled the trail back to Dolgellau. And then it was time to head home – muddy, wet and tired, but with big grins on our faces.
We packed so much into our North Wales adventure, and we had such a brilliant time. The combination of the wonderful landscape, and the sheer variety of things to do, makes Wales hard to beat as a family destination in my opinion. On the way home in the car I asked the kids to list what they’d done during our trip, here’s what they came up with:
We climbed up high, looked down on seaside towns, played on the beach, pretended to be medieval knights, gazed up at snow-capped mountains, followed streams, saw waterfalls, crossed stone bridges, ate ice cream, saw baby lambs, skimmed stones and did a brilliant bike ride.
Looking at this list it’s no wonder we all had a fantastic time, is it?! I think it’s fair to say we found our epic – not a bad way to spend a family weekend!
For more information on adventure holidays and short breaks in Wales take a look at www.visitwales.com where you’ll find lots of inspiration. You can also follow the #FindYourEpic hashtag on social media to see what other explorers are getting up to.
Thanks to Visit Wales for inviting us to experience a family adventure in Wales. All opinions are honest and genuine.