Wales or Cymru as it is called in Welsh. Join us for a Celtic sightseeing tour; from the imposing castles of Conwy, Powys and Cardiff, to Dylan Thomas country and the mountains of Snowdonia.
North West Wales has an amazing varied landscape with long beaches, mountain range with the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon 3,560ft (1,085mt), fabulous ruined castles, woodlands and seascapes as well as the evidence of a once great mineral based mining and quarrying economy of slate and copper. Snowdonia is the largest National Park in Wales and there are two multi sited UNESCO World Heritage designated areas. The great castles of King Edward I (Harlech, Caernarfon, Beaumaris and Conwy) and six areas of the Slate Landscape.
Not only is there spectacular scenery but you can “go below” to see hydroelectricity at work, or into the slate mines at Llechwydd or “go above” by the little rack and pinion railway, built in 1896, to the top of Snowdon (in good summer weather), or zip wire across a slate quarry.
Perhaps the most impressive of the castles in Wales built by King Edward I, circa 1300 is Caernarfon Castle, set within medieval town walls. 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 part of a World Heritage Site. In 1969 it was the site of the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales. In 2021 the castle received a multi-million award to restore and renew so that there will be greater accessibility for all to the higher levels. Nearby is the Roman fort of Segontium, dating from 77AD.
Nearby you could also visit the lived in Gwydir Castle near Llanrwst which now has the restored original panelling that was once bought, but never used, by the tycoon William Randolph Hearst.
Swansea was the first town in Wales to go global due to it being the crucible of the world’s copper manufacture. – over 2/3 of world copper was made here in late 18th and early 19th Centuries. The town still bears the scars and the pride of this industrial revolution. It is the birthplace of Dylan Thomas in 1914 and there is a Dylan Thomas Centre in the Maritime Cultural Quarter as well as his childhood home in the Uplands part of this city that he described as “lovely, ugly sprawling town”.
Drive on down to the fishing and cockling village of Laugharne to find his famous Boat House and Writing shed where he wrote much of the famous radio play “Under Milk Wood” He is buried in the nearby cemetery. There is a fine ruin of a castle soaring above the estuary with its “heron priested shores”.
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 award winning National Museum of History at St Fagan’s castle, about four miles outside Cardiff. It is one of Europe’s foremost open-air museums which tells the story of Wales through its buildings, crafts and interactive galleries.
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. The Nelson Collection of memorabilia is due to be displayed in the beautiful late Georgian Shire Hall which has preserved its county court room as it was in the days of the Chartists riots of 1830’s. The Kymin, a small round tower, was once a private lunching club for the businessmen of Monmouth, is worth a visit on a clear day to see the panorama of the valley below.