The highlight of our stay in Wales was the tour of Snowdonia, a forested, mountainous region in northwestern Wales. The three of us stumbled into an SUV while our guide described the sites. Later I attempted to trace our route on a map; I failed.
First stop, Llanrhychwyn
The title may be misleading. Did we see the small village of LLanrhychwyn? If so, we drove right through it. We did stop at St. Rhychwyn’s Church, almost lost in the foliage.
The church may be the oldest in Wales and is said to date back to the 11th Century. While it appears to be lost in a pasture, the church still provides services to the local congregation. After exploring the cemetery, we drove past lakes now used for boating but unsafe for swimming because of mining.
For nearly 2,000 years, workers have mined for slate in Wales. By the 19th Century, demand was high for slate roofs. (The stone is durable and resistant to fire and harsh weather.) We stopped at the National Slate Museum for a quick tour of how the workers shaped the slate. The waterwheel was enormous.
I tried to capture the enormity of the wheel, which measures fifty feet in diameter and five feet wide. It’s reputed to be the largest in the United Kingdom.
Snowdonia National Park
The national park covers over eight hundred square miles. We zigzagged across a seemingly colossal area, but perhaps I was confused by all the winding, narrow roads. This hilly forested place is where one may have to back up and let another vehicle pass. Sitting in the backseat as the car backs toward a steep hillside isn’t for the faint of heart! Thank goodness our driver was good at his job.
I also refer to the entire northwest section of Wales as Snowdonia. Technically, Caernarfon may be on the outside of the region.
Castles in Snowdonia
As we crisscrossed northern Wales, we stopped at two fierce castles. The first was Caernarfon Castle, built next to the River Seiont by Edward I.
It took nearly fifty years to finish this colossal structure!
Later in the afternoon, we also stopped to explore another of Edward’s construction projects, the castle at Conwy. We walked about Castle Conwy to get an idea of what it would be like to live there.
We crossed the Menai Strait at least a couple of times. (I remember the bridges!) The main attraction was the small town with the very long name.
The day went by too quickly. If I return to the UK, I’ll focus on Wales. There’s more I want to explore.
Meanwhile, to see more images from my whirlwind travels to Snowdonia, please click here.