“Croeso i cymru” in other words; Welcome to Wales! Since living in the UK, it has been on my bucket list to do a road trip around this beautiful country in the UK. So when I moved up to Liverpool for the month, it seemed like a great idea to take advantage of this opportunity. The drive from Liverpool to the border of Wales only takes 45 minutes. So I hired a car and off I went adventuring for three days. Once we had gone under the mersey river in Liverpool, paid a toll of £1.60 and started heading south out of Wirral, we hit the border of Wales where we were welcomed by mist, rain, sheep and plenty of green fields. Never in all my life have I seen so many sheep.
However, no matter the weather Wales is always open for business with big smiles on their faces. As I only had three days, I decided to try and do as much of Wales as possible. Even though this was a lot of driving, Wales is more about the journey, not the destination. You will never get sick of its beautiful countryside and gorgeous views.
Day 1: Llandudno, Conwy Castle, Penhryn Castle, Snowdonia
As you enter Wales you will see big mountains, many sweeping fields, sheep and most likely than not clouds and rain. Driving along the north coast soon became extremely picturesque when the clouds parted and the sunshine came through just in time as we were arriving in Llandudno. Llandudno is a beach side town in North Wales with a pebbled beach and long jetty. Llandudno is also where the famous author Lewis Carroll grew up before he studied and became a professor at Oxford University. There are many cute shops, cafes and little shops along the jetty.
Not far from Llandudno is the town on Conwy, famous for it’s castle. The castle is now a fantastic ruin and great to explore. It was built by Edward I in the 13th century. The views are amazing from the top! On the way to Snowdonia National Park, we stopped at a National Trust property called Penhryn Castle. It is a spectacular grey castle covered in bright red leaves from creepers with a view over the sea and into the mountains of Snowdonia. There are also ruins of an abbey and a victorian walled garden on site.
Heading into Snowdonia reminded me so much of driving through the Highlands of Scotland with lots of heather, shrubbery and mountains! There were even Loch’s of water. The scenery is absolutely breath taking. There are many cute towns throughout snowdonia, including some great little atmospheric pubs to pull into. These little pubs are very inviting with so much character. I highly recommend staying in one of these little towns like I did, it makes the trip truly majestic.
Day 2: Snowdonia Hike, Aberystwyth, Dinefwr Castle, Dinefwr Ruins, Deer Park and Swansea
We started off the day driving through rain (typical Wales), but we were lucky and the clouds parted with sunshine which allowed us to take a one hour hike in Snowdonia along a creek. After walking through the lovely scenery, we continued our road trip onto Aberystwyth. Aberystwyth is a coastal town on the west of Wales. On the sea front it has ruins of an old castle, a circle of standing stones, and little restaurants and cafes that have a good fish and chips. No matter what the temperature, it seems the welsh will brave the swimming waters at any temperature.
An hour north of Swansea is Dinefwr Castle which I highly recommend visiting. Especially if you have never seen deer before! There are nice tea rooms, you may touch everything that is on display inside the castle, take a walk in the park to spot the deer, and climb the hill to the old castle ruins. Staying in Swansea for the night was a good central location for the night even though for my visit I was more interested in seeing the country side. There are many places to eat and experience the night life.
Day 3: Gower Peninsula, Brecon Beacon’s National Park, Hay-on-Wye, Llangollen
Be prepared when driving to Gower Peninsula of narrow, windy roads and a variety of little towns. When you reach the Gower Peninsula Coastline, it is a fantastic view to take in. It is a popular hiking spot which I wouldn’t mind going back and doing at a later point. There are sheep walking around on the edge of the cliffs, with great coloured seas and green mountains. We then headed north driving through farms where there were roaming ponies on and next to the road mixed with sheep. That was a first! This is also continued to occur driving the Brecon Beacon’s National Park, similar to Snowdonia but less trees. Another good place to hiking if you wish.
My main stop for the day was in a little town called Hay-on-Wye. More commonly known as the ‘town of books’. You need at least a couple of hours to explore this cute little town, especially if you are a book lover like me. This little town has 42 different books shops, generally a mix of new and second hand. in my two hours I only got to four. They have a book festival in May which is very popular. The town also has lovely little cafes with a castle located in the hub of the town.
My last stop of my Wales road trip was the small town of Llangollen. Here you can take a boat ride pulled by horses, take train trips into Snowdonia, wonder the cobbled streets, the cute shops, and soak up the sunshine permitting.