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United Kingdom & Ireland Travel Articles

Travel notes and articles for England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland. Articles posted must be approved by the Admin before they are published.
The longest aqueduct in the British Isles and the highest in the world This is an impressive sight both from above and below. It is exhilarating either to cross on foot or by boat. The late C18th was a time of peak building of canals, needed to carry raw materials and finished goods across the country. A canal was proposed to carry cargoes from the mineral rich coalfields of North East Wales. This was an ambitious project across difficult terrain. William Jessop and Thomas Telford were...
Llangollen is an attractive market town on the banks of the River Dee, and is surrounded by the Berwyns and Clywdian mountains. It is overlooked by the ruins of the Welsh stronghold, Castell Dinas Bran. The name comes from the C7th monk, St Collen who founded a church here, although the present building is C15th. The town grew up to the north of the river, where there was more flat land. The railway and canal are on the south bank. The Dee Bridge across the river was built in 1345 and was...
Llandudno is dominated by the massive limestone headland of the Great Orme rising nearly 700’ above the town and bay. It is impressive seen from below. Seen from above, as can be seen from this photograph from the Visit Conwy website, really shows just how big and impressive it is. It is equally as impressive when seen from the town. One of the best ways to appreciate its bulk is from the Marine Drive, cut out of the side of the cliffs.
Mold is a small and attractive town on the River Alyn , overlooked by the Clwydian Hills. It used to be one of the main routes to North Wales, but is now bypassed. It is still a thriving market town for the area with a lot of independent shops in the town centre which have survived the arrival of the out of town supermarkets A motte and bailey castle was built here in the late C11th and was one of the early castles built by the Normans to consolidate their hold on Wales. A town grew...
A deserted quarry village that has been brought back to life as a Welsh language and heritage centre The hard granite hills of the Llyn Peninsula provided excellent stone for roads. In the C19th setts from these quarries paved the streets of Liverpool, Manchester and other industrial cities. Nant Gwtheryn was site of three large quarries providing employment for over one hundred men. Stone was taken down steep inclines and loaded onto ships at one of three small piers from the beach...
St Winefride’s Well, Holywell, North Wales. St Winefride's Well has been a site of pilgrimage for over 1,300 years. It has survived the Reformation and the Puritan zeal to destroy ‘Popish’ shrines. It is still visited by pilgrims today, not just from Wales but across Europe. It has been described as the Lourdes of Wales. Around 660AD, Winefride (Gwenfrewi in Welsh) who was of noble birth spurned the advances of Caradoc, son of a local prince, as she wanted to become a nun. He cut off her...
Penmon Priory is a delightful spot at the south eastern tip of Anglesey. Part of its charm is that it has yet to reach the tick list of must see sights and doesn’t get many visitors. Although the Romans brought Christianity to Wales, it never really became established until the arrival of Celtic missionary saints in the C6th who established small monasteries, usually around an existing holy well. St Seiriol, who was of noble birth, settled here in the C6th and built a small cell (clas)...
When Edward I assumed the throne in 1272, Wales was ruled by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (Llywelyn the Last). Henry III had been a weak ruler and his reign had been marked by reign had been marked by rebellion, confusion and indecision. Llywelan had successfully exploited his weak and ineffective rule to obtain complete control of the principality culminating in English recognition of his title of Prince of Wales at the Treaty of Montgomery in 1267. Edward after fighting in the crusades was an...
The rapid development of towns during the Industrial Revolution led to to an enormous demand for slate for roofs of houses and factories. Welsh Slate was highly prized as the best as it was very durable and split easily. The National Slate Museum on the site of the workshops of the mighty Dinorwic quarry in Llanberis gives a wonderful insight into the industry and the lives of those who worked in it. Commercial quarrying began at Dinorwic in the early C19th and by the end of the century...
Criccieth, an unspoilt sea side town with a ruined castle. Criccieth is a typical sea side town with a strong Victorian feel to it. It grew rapidly once the railway arrived in 1867 and has been popular ever since. It is an attractive place to stop with a range of old fashioned family owned shops, some have been trading for over 80 years. There is still a very traditional shoe shop with shelves full of boxes of shoes). There are plenty of very good craft shops specialising in locally...
Introduction The Talyllyn Railway is a narrow gauge railway in Meirionnydd, Mid Wales that was originally built to carry slate from the hills above Abergynolwyn to the wharves at Tywyn. It was made famous as Skarloey’s railway by Rev Awdry in his Thomas the Tank engine books. The railway still preserves the feel of the 1950s and is a lovely ride up the Afon Fathew valley. The railway was opened in 1866 and has an illustrious history. It was the first narrow gauge railway in Britain to...
At 26 miles, the Welsh Highland Railway is the longest of the Welsh Narrow Gauge Railways and runs through Snowdonia National Park between Porthmadog and Caernarfon. The line has been rebuilt along the trackbed of a line that closed in the 1930s and runs through an area of disperse settlement and isolated farms. The only settlement of any size is Beddgelert and that is little more than a big village. It was hardly surprising there was insufficient traffic for the line to run at a profit...
The Ffestiniog Railway is a preserved narrow gauge railway in the top in the top left hand corner of Wales. It was originally built to carry slate from the hills above Blaenau Ffestiniog to the slate wharves at Porthmadog. It is now a popular tourist attraction, providing much needed employment and bringing tourist money into the area. Some of the pictures have been scanned from slides taken in the 1980s and 1990s, which explains the slight colour cast in some of them. Others were taken...
Set on a wooded peninsula on the North Wales coast, many people still identify Portmeirion to the iconic 1960s ITV series “The Prisoner”. It is one of the major tourist attractions in the area and a feast for the eyes. As well as the village itself there are miles of footpaths through the woodland, past lakes and follies. It is quite easy to spend a full day here. Portmeirion was designed by the quirky architect Sir Clough Williams Ellis who lived at Plas Brondanw a few miles away. He was...
A small C17th manor house - a time warp in a delightful setting. Plas yn Rhiw is a delightful small C17th stone manor house set high on the wooded hillside above Porth Neigl beach, hidden from the road by a stone wall and tall box hedge. The house was bought by the three Keating sisters in 1938 who lovingly restored it from a ruinous condition and planted the garden. They donated the house to the National Trust and continued to live in it until their death. They are buried in the...
Architectural gardens designed by Cough Williams Ellis of Portmeirion fame. Anyone who has visited and enjoyed Portmeirion designed by Clough Williams-Ellis will enjoy these gardens too, especially as they are off the tourist beat and get few visitors. Sir Clough Williams-Ellis was given Plas Brondanw by his father in 1902. The house and garden had long been abandoned by the family and subdivided into allotments and tenements. Over the next seventy years not only did he restore the house...
A delightful garden on the edge of Snowdonia. Bodnant Garden is described as one of the most spectacular and admired gardens in Britain with their laburnum walk, so have a reputation to live up to. They have been on our list of places to visit for many years, so we were a bit concerned that they might not live up to all the hype. Not only did they live up to the hype, they were even better than the pictures we’d seen on the web. The spectacular Laburnum walk was at its peak in May and that...
An attractive Victorian sea side resort which is still popular today. Set on the North Coast of North Wales, Llandudno is often described as the Queen of Holiday resorts. It is dominated by the massive limestone bulk of the Great Orme and still retains much of its Victorian grandeur. It was beginning to feel run down and neglected twenty years ago, but now the buildings are all freshly painted and the town is thriving. There is something for all ages from the traditional Punch and Judy...
Medieval town walls, a ruined castle and an Elizabethan Town House. Visitors to North Wales speed along the A55 and through the Conwy tunnel without a glimpse of the town. Long gone are the days of bottlenecks through Conwy when all traffic had to negotiate Telford’s narrow suspension bridge. Congestion improved when a new road bridge was built in 1958 and this is the dramatic entrance to Conwy. Now traffic completely bypasses the town through the tunnel. This is a shame as Conwy is one of...

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