For those readers who don’t live in the UK, Wales is known far and wide for it’s absolutely beautiful scenery – rolling green hills, old stone walls, and bright white sheep dotted throughout the landscape. It is one of my favourite places to visit and was the location that my boyfriend Martin decided to take me 2 years ago for a surprise weekend away.
North Wales from the car
A friend of ours owns a small cottage in a tiny village called Rowen, in deepest, darkest North Wales – and this was to be our hideaway for a long weekend. Arriving in the village late on a Friday evening (in the dark) we could not fully appreciate how different our surroundings were to the life we lead in London. By daylight we realised that it was one of the smallest villages we had ever seen, with only one village shop and one pub. I counted no more than 35 houses at a glance and the village was beautifully positioned in the Conwy valley, at the base of the Carneddau mountains.
The Ty Gwyn Hotel in Rowen
The cottage itself was stunning – built from Welsh stone it was very small but wonderfully decorated – with a large, open-plan downstairs (kitchen, living room) and a bedroom that was placed up a ladder on a mezzanine floor. There was underfloor heating (which was very useful in November!) and an ornate fireplace. I was in love with it!
View from the cottage into the valley
The next morning we went out bright and early to explore the local town of Conwy – a coastal town which still has walls and a castle dating back to the late 1200’s. It was a windy but bright day, so we decided to go straight up to the castle along the old town walls. The views are fantastic from the top and you can see straight into the town and the harbour area. You could really imagine the 1200’s and what it must have been like to be defending the town from the towers and walls.
View from a turret
After pretending to be soldiers for while we got hungry and thirsty – down in the town we decided to partake in a little local culture and went to watch a Wales rugby game in a harbour-side pub. It was a brilliant atmosphere being amongst the locals who were very passionate about their rugby! Following this we wondered up the main high street and stopped in a little cafe, where we ordered a sandwich and soup combo, which filled us nicely. There are lots of independent shops in Conwy to browse around, which makes a nice change from London!
Back in Rowen we decided to visit the local pub that evening and it was immediately clear that the owners and locals know that you aren’t a regular resident in the village. They weren’t rude at all, but you do get a few curious glances and inquisitive looks! We enjoyed our drinks and wandered back up the hill to the cottage, basking in the lack of street lights and enjoying the clear, starry night sky.
The next day we decided to hike down to the Conwy falls, which is a waterfall on the Conwy River. We stopped at a 1930’s built white building called the Conwy Falls Cafe, which acts as a gateway to 9 acres of native forest and a easy walk down to the falls. The walk was scenic and fun, even in the rain! The cafe serves lovely cakes and treats and we stopped to enjoy a warm drink after the outdoor activity (http://www.conwyfalls.com/).
Conwy Falls Cafe
Testing the raincoat
Me and Martin
North Wales is well worth a visit if you’re in the UK – we were disappointed that we didn’t have the opportunity to take our bikes because the hills and valleys would have been perfect for riding. Apparently the area is well known amongst mountain bikers, so if you’re looking for some thrill action, try the area. It is also a perfect place to stay if you are thinking of visiting the Snowdonia National Park.
We shall be visiting the area again later this year when we plan to climb Mount Snowdon with some friends and trying out the longest and fastest zip line in Europe! http://www.zipworld.co.uk/ I am sure there will be blog post following that visit (if I make it down in one piece!)