|Snowdonia proper, the mountain ranges that include the highest peaks and the most beautiful valleys, the largest lakes and the grandest scenery, also gets the busiest in the summer months. From Llwyndu it is all within easy reach, with Holyhead on the northern tip of Anglesey only an hour and a half away. Taking such drives is a pleasure in itself as the journeys are always so diverting. This section will give a hint of what to expect.
There are three principal gateways from the south. Blaenau Ffestiniog, centre of the North Wales slate industry will lead you through the beautiful Lledr Valley, after passing Dolwyddelan Castle and onto Bettws y Coed, Llanrwst, the Conwy Valley, the largely Victorian town of Llandudno and Conwy with is superbly restored Elizabethan town house, Plas Mawr. The town also boasts Conwy Castle and the smallest house in Britain. Near Conwy is Bodnant Gardens (NT), something of a Mecca for green fingered tourists
Going via the Aberglaslyn Pass Beddgelert, (famous for the legend of the dog), is a popular centre for walking the surrounding hills like Moel Hebog, and the Sygun Copper Mine is nearby. Beddgelert also has associations with Rupert the Bear! There is a long railway tunnel here, cut through the mountain that used to make an interesting walk but a project is underway to restore this disused narrow gauge track back into use so people will soon have to use the train. The train will run from Porthmadog to Caernarfon.
Travelling north east from the village takes you winding up the Nantgwynant valley and skirts the Snowdon range. You can elect to take the Llanberis Pass towards Caernarfon and in Llanberis alight the Snowdon Mountain Railway that crawls up to the peak of Snowdon, or Yr Wyddfa.In Llanberis the huge lake of Llyn Padarn is skirted by another small railway, the Electric Mountain Centre and the Welsh Slate Museum are well worth the visit. If you choose the road to Capel Curig and then up towards Bangor, this wilder, more desolate valley cuts between the Glyder mountains and the brooding Tryfan on your left and the Carneddau mountains on your right. Driving past Llyn Ogwen and then dropping sharply down into Nant Ffrancon towards the slate town of Bethesda provides an exhilarating change of scene.
Porthmadog opens the coastal route to Caernarfon and views of Caernarfon Bay as you head north. Caernarfon is one of several medieval towns on the North Wales Coast. It has the best preserved castle, a pleasantly gridded town layout and a number of museums, the Maritime being on the old Victoria Dock, recently restored as a Marina. You can gaze across the Menai Strait and look at Anglesey. On the outskirts of the town is the Roman Fort of Segontium.
Along the coast, the university town of Bangor has a cathedral, a fine suspension bridge by Brunel and a more recent one of plain concrete to connect to Anglesey. The National Trust's Penrhyn Castle is also just outside Bangor. This is not a medieval castle but a rather distasteful reminder of the local Bethesda slate quarry owner's oppression of his workforce in the nineteenth century - a family still reviled in local memory.
Anglesey, or Ynys Mon, was known as Mam Cymru, the 'mother of Wales' and testifies to its importance in supplying food to the region in earlier times. It was the last Celtic Stronghold to fall to the Romans in Wales. The Island is scattered with early sites and much archaeological work is going on. There are two main characteristics of Anglesey. It is relatively flat and rather featureless but it has a marvellously interesting coastline. Crossing one of the bridges, the A5 will take you straight to Holyhead. But go round the coast and it is delightful. Almost opposite the bridge you will come to the most well known but least pronounceable Welsh place-names - Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandysiliogogoch - quite easy when you know how but like many local names of more than three syllables it is truncated, in this instance to Llanfair P.G. This is very useful to know if your are looking for it but find yourself lost and need to ask directions! The name was actually invented in around 1880 to stimulate tourist interest but there isn't much here apart from the sign and a couple of shops. Plas Newydd, is a NT house and home of the Marquess of Anglesey that everyone seems to make and is nearby. This modest pile was built from the proceeds of the one time largest copper mine in the world at Parys Mountain, Amlwch (NW tip of the island)- now travel anti-clockwise direction, head for Newborough and Llanddwyn, or Lover's, Island a small jut of land reached by a long walk along the sandy beach, with a Celtic site, an old windmill and spectacular views of Snowdonia. Enchanting! The turtle below didn't quite make it, but what a spot to spend your last moments.
A very good display of Marine life is waiting at the Anglesey Sea Zoo near Brynsiencyn.
Heading on northwards, exploring the many inlets and beaches, at Maltraeth Sands, Llangadwaladr and while at Aberffraw, ponder this home, from the seventh century onwards until the Edwardian conquest, of the Princes of Gwynedd. Onto Rhosneigr and Cymyran Bay. Holyhead itself can be visited but it's best to head on round to Church Bay, Cemaes Bay, Bull Bay and south to Red Wharf Bay where you can find another good pub on the beach.
The best is almost last on Anglesey, if you have travelled clockwise around the island. Beaumaris -'beautiful marsh' probably has more of interest in it than the rest of the island. It is an attractive town with nice buildings and is popular for it. The unfinished castle (started in 1295) of Edward I is the biggest attraction, but there is also the Courthouse (built 1614), and Beaumaris Gaol (1829) and a short way off is the Augustine Penmon Priory. Trips to Puffin Island can be had to see the razorbills, guillemots and puffins. The way back to the mainland is via Menai Bridge.
Heading back to Llwyndu, guests can now take a different route with the opportunity of yet more dramatic scenery on the home ward journey.
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