Coastline and castles: a drive through North Wales
I feel like I say this every time I write a blog post, but here I go again - it really has been a while! Since I've last sat down to write anything I think I must have been to at least 5 places that are totally new to me (and I have so many stories to tell!) but I'm going to start with something a little more recent and a little closer to home!
It's been a reasonably mild end to the winter here in the UK, which I'm quite thankful for after the seemingly endless snowfall we had this time last year. Don't get me wrong, I love snow but anymore than a week of having to shovel your way out every day is where I draw the line! So to make the most of this unusual sunny spell it seemed like a great opportunity to take a drive across the North Wales expressway and stop to see a few of the sights.
To the end of the road: South Stack Lighthouse
If you follow the A55 westbound you will eventually find yourself on the picturesque island of Anglesey. If you like rugged coastline and dramatic views, there is plenty to see here, and South Stack Lighthouse promises some great views!
The lighthouse itself is situated on a small island accessible by some very long and winding steps and then over a bridge. This small island is actually protected by the RSPB as it is home to many sea birds - including puffins! When I visited in early March it was, unfortunately, the wrong time of year to see the puffins nesting on the rocks, but there was plenty of natural beauty to be seen nonetheless. There are a few car parks near the steps down to the lighthouse, one of which has an RSPB visitor information centre where you can find out more about their conservation programme as well as pick up a few souvenirs and a bite to eat in the cafe (the soup was great!).
My advice for any keen photographers would be to try and visit around sunrise or sunset to capture some really beautiful lighting over the sea. It was VERY windy when I visited so make sure that all of your gear is secure and any tripods are weighed down! For lenses I'd suggest bringing a wide angle for landscape shots and a telescopic zoom if you are hoping to capture the wildlife (e.g. puffins) on the cliffs, alongside your standard kit.
On the way back from South Stack we decided to stop in Conwy, a town on the North coast of Wales that is an easy stop to make if travelling on the A55. Conwy is a beautiful seaside town and also a world heritage site featuring an impressive 13th century castle and castle walls.
Conwy Castle is undoubtedly the main attraction, with an impressive exterior it's sure to excite any history buffs and anyone else for that matter. You can visit the interior of the castle too, and let your imagination run wild in the medieval settings - more information about tickets, opening times and facilities can be found here. If you are on a tight budged or don't have a lot of time for a visit, you can walk along the extensive castle walls that surround the town for free! The walls offer amazing views over this very pretty town and the nearby hills and bay.
Conwy is also a great spot for food and drink. There is plenty to choose from including fresh cakes, traditional fish and chips and locally brewed beers. I'd thoroughly recommend Bank of Conwy for a drink, there is a huge menu of cocktails, locally brewed and craft beers, and most importantly the service was super friendly - especially from the adorable pub dog that does the rounds and enjoys a bit of fuss.
There are, of course, so many other great spots in North Wales that are worth visiting too (adventure seekers will love Snowdonia National Park) but I run the risk of going on forever, so will leave you with the couple of highlights above from my recent trip!
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or recommendations for North Wales!