North Wales has changed a lot since the 1980s, when Rhyl was the favoured holiday destination for families across the North West. The region has recently been reinvented, with investment in world class attractions such as Surf Snowdonia, a 300m surf lagoon, and the rather frightening-looking Zip World, which has locations in Snowdonia, Betws Y Coed and the slate caverns of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Rhyl is also being redeveloped, with work recently commencing on an £85m Ocean Plaza to replace the famous funfair.
In contrast to some of the recent developments, North Wales’ legendary Snowdonia National Park is still the region’s biggest draw; with the Great Orme, Bodnant Garden and Plas Mawr, being just a sample of the other well known attractions. North Wales remains a fantastic holiday location for families, with the beaches of Anglesey, Barmouth and Talacre still extremely popular. If you like the great outdoors, North Wales is one of the best places to visit, with or without a family!
We’ll take a look at some of the less well known outdoor attractions in the area…
Conwy Mountain provides an idyllic walk (or run). The circular route is 7.6 miles long and takes approximately 4 hours to walk and provides views of Conwy Castle, Creuddyn Peninsula and the remains of an ancient fort. Walking boots and water proofs are recommended for this walk, as are an OS map and ideally, a compass – although the route is very popular with families and not especially challenging to navigate or ascend in the summer months. The route does however, feature a number of steep sections, some of which are often muddy during the winter. Car parking is available at the Conwy Marina, which is opposite the Mulberry Pub.
After around 40 minutes of walking from the car park, you should come to a ridge which overlooks the Irish Sea. The amazing views continue from here on, with Angelsey, Puffin Island, Conwy Valley, Mount Snowdon and even the Isle of Man – if you get a clear enough day of course! The rock formations found on the mountain are impressive and in fact, quite rare (according to a review on Tripadvisor anyway), with rhyolite found amongst them. Whilst popular routes in North Wales can get fairly busy during the summer months, the Conwy Mountain is frequented by walkers much less often, as it is more of a hidden gem, then a popular tourist attraction.
Conwy Valley offers a variety of things to do and places to visit. Including Vionmondo, the local specialist wine shop. Red wine of course, often being the fitness enthusiasts’ drinks of choice. If you’re looking for a holiday home or static caravan in the area, Aberconwy Resort & Spa also features a rather impressive gym and is situated right next to the beach.
Another mountain, that’s not really a mountain – more of a very wide hill. Hope is a village in North Wales, that lies on the border of Wrexham and Flintshire. It is easy to access via train or car. If you wish to walk up the mountain, there are a number of routes. The tsummit does provide some beautiful views of the Clwydian mountains and the Cheshire plains. The walk takes around 3 hours to complete, and is just under 6 miles long.
To access the most popular route, it is best to park in the Caergwrle car park (which incidentally, also boasts its own castle). The car park is free, but can get busy at the weekends, so it is best to get there early. Exit the car park and take a left up the hill, then take another left onto Bryn Yorkin Lane. Head up the road, carrying on for around 15 minutes, where the road gets gradually steeper. When you reach the end of the road, in the top right corner, between two houses is a foot path. Take the foot path and use the style 200m along, to get onto the mountain. From here continue to your right to go directly up the mountain. Alternatively, walk straight on to comes to a lake and a foot path that winds around the mountain. Watch out for cows and the occasional bull.
Look out for the area that is owned by the local archery club, which is clearly signposted. For those of us that enjoy views, but not hiking, there is also a car park at the top for the Waun-Y-Llyn Country Park, a popular site for bouldering, the park has recently been updated with new styles and footpaths. If you are a fan of bouldering and climbing, the nearby village of Brymbo has a centre with its own climbing wall too – as well as a zipline and assault course.
Glyn Ceiriog is a village near Chirk, it is popular with walkers and mountain bikers. The Offa’s Dyke path, passes through the village, but for a shorter walk or run, the Ceiriog Valley provides a steady walk for 5 miles. The Hand Hotel is the starting point for this scenic route.
The valley also provides some great mountain biking paths and the nearby village of Corwen has a number of bike-friendly hotels. Mountain bikes are also available to hire from the local Canolfan Ceiriog Centre, although it would be best to contact them before arriving to book a bike. The Glyn Ceiriog mountain biking route, is a beautiful, but extremely quiet route, that is not well known by the mountain biking community. You can see a video of the route here.
For a more challenging and much longer mountain bike route, the Ceiriog Valley and the Vale of Llangollen route, is just over 21 miles long, starting in Glyn Ceiriog and dropping down into Llangollen. The path starts and finishes at the car park by the Community Centre in Glyn Ceiriog and is a challenging bike ride that is normally only undertaken by experienced riders. You can find a map and more detailed information here.
There are a number of other fantastic places to visit in North Wales, especially if you love hiking, mountain biking and/or climbing. These include Bryn Alyn, The Horse Shoe Pass (great for a walk or a scenic drive) and Bethesda (perfect for bouldering). If you’re particularly brave, North Wales is also a great spot for wild swimming.