Conwy

One of the most memorable B&Bs on our travels in Britain was Whinward House in Conwy, on the north coast of Wales. The 1890s Coaching Inn had been renovated beautifully and hosts, Chris & Janis made us very welcome. After a good night sleep

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and a hearty home cooked breakfast,

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we strolled along the river walk

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to the walled market town of Conwy.

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The smallest house in Great Britain, 3.05m x 1.8m, was occupied from the 16th century to 1900. The last tenant was a 6’3” fisherman and he was eventually forced to move out when the council declared the house unfit for human habitation.

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The living area on the ground floor had room for coal and an open fire

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while the cosy bedroom was upstairs.

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We explored Aberconwy House, a 14th century merchant’s house and the oldest recorded dwelling in Wales.

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No visit to Conwy would be complete without experiencing the castle.

The castle and town walls were built between 1283 and 1289.

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Glimpses of the River Conwy could be seen through the windows

and the interior of the castle has been remarkably preserved.

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Someone had a very comfortable home.

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The perspective of the castle changed as we climbed higher

and the views of the river and countryside were beautiful.

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The suspension bridge was completed in 1826 to replace the ferry across the River Conwy and is now only open to pedestrians.

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We bade farewell to Conwy Castle

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and returned along the river walk. The tide had risen, the name of this boat seemed very appropriate.

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We wandered to the marina

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and enjoyed a wonderful meal at The Mulberry

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before another comfortable night at Whinward House.

Penrhyn Castle

Leaving Caernarfon, we followed the Menai Strait northward with the Isle of Anglesey across the water to our left. The Menai Bridge was built to carry traffic between Anglesey and mainland Wales.

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Construction began in 1819 with the towers on either side of the strait, built using stone from Penmon quarry on the island.

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It was the first iron suspension bridge of its kind in the world, completed in 1826.

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We walked across the bridge, stopping to admire the view northward to the Irish Sea.

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We couldn’t resist a visit to nearby Penrhyn Castle.

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It’s not really a castle at all but a country house built to resemble a Norman castle.

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Created between 1820 and 1833, Penrhyn was built on the site of a 14th century manor house and is now owned by the National Trust.

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After exploring the gorgeous restored interior, we strolled through the grounds.

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The countryside was breathtaking, with views across Snowdonia National Park

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and north to Llandudno and the Great Orme.

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Whether you love or loathe the idea of a mock castle, you can’t help but be impressed by the workmanship.

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Caernarfon Castle

Continuing northward through Wales, we stopped to admire the majesty of Caernarfon Castle. The original Norman castle on this site was replaced in 1283 when King Edward I began building his stone structure.

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The walls were built to suit the lie of the land which resulted in the internal grounds being shaped like a figure eight. The towers within the walls were not the usual round ones of other Edwardian castles but polygonal, each with a different number of sides.

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All were accommodation towers, the grandest being the ten-sided Eagle Tower. It has three turrets which were once decorated with stone eagles that have since weathered away.

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Walkways within the castle allowed for a closer look at the workmanship.

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From above we gained a different perspective of the towers

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and could really appreciate the expanse of the castle.

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The views of the River Seiont

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and harbour were captivating.

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I would love this pair of cannons for our driveway entrance.

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Long before there was a castle, the Romans built a fort nearby to defend the north Wales coast. Established around 78AD, Segontium held about a thousand soldiers.

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The fort was abandoned in the 4th century and there is not much left to see of the ruins.

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The stone was plundered and used to build King Edward’s Caernarfon Castle.

West Wales

Following our exploration of Cilgerran castle, we found a lovely place for lunch in nearby Cardigan.

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I thought it would be nice to buy a cardigan in Cardigan, but I didn’t. Instead, we strolled along the River Teifi

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before continuing our drive north. Not far from Aberystwyth was our inviting B&B, Awel-Deg, at Capel Bangor.

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The views were stunning across the gorgeous Rheidol Valley.

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We walked to the Tynllidiart Arms for dinner

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and sampled ales brewed at the smallest commercial brewery in the world. Bragdy Gwynant is a five foot square former men’s toilet where, since 2004, beers have been brewed for the Tynllidiart Arms.

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The next morning, we detoured to Devil’s Bridge. There are actually three bridges built on top of each other, the oldest dating back to the 11th century. The stone bridge was then built in 1753 when the original became unstable and the most recent iron bridge was constructed in 1901.

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The bridge is at a point where, before reaching the River Rheidol, the River Mynach drops 90 metres down a steep and narrow ravine.

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As we descended the steps

the bridge rose above us.

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At the bottom, the water created wonderful waterfalls as it cascaded through the confines of the gorge.

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According to legend, the original bridge was built by the Devil. He was visiting Wales and came across a lady whose cow had wandered across the river and she couldn’t get her back. He offered to build a bridge in return for the soul of the first living thing to cross the bridge. The next morning, the lady returned but she tricked the Devil by throwing bread so her dog went across first. The Devil wasn’t happy and was never seen in Wales again.

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We continued our drive north through Snowdonia National Park, 823 square miles of stunning landscapes,

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as we headed for the coast.

Cilgerran Castle

There are many medieval castles throughout Britain but Cilgerran Castle is unusual in that it was built with one side directly onto a cliff face.

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The existing ruin dates back to the 13th century, although there was first mention of a structure on this site as early as 1165.

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Having withstood many battles and changes of ownership, the castle was left to ruin in 1400.

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The castle is in a stunning position high above the Teifi Gorge.

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We spent some time wandering around, admiring the workmanship of a past age.

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We could almost hear the clamour of chain mail echoing from the stairwell.

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The views over the Pembrokeshire countryside were spectacular.

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Across the gorge, Coedmore Mansion rested peacefully within the woodland.

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The gorgeous early 19th century country house was, sadly, divided into flats in 1990.