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The sight of Conwy Castle across the Conwy Estuary is unforgettable. Conwy is one of Britain's few remaining walled towns and its castle, which is part of the defences, is magnificent and massive. One of English King Edward I's 'iron ring' of fortresses designed to keep the Welsh under control, it was his most expensive, and it was built between 1283 and 1289. By the 17th century, though, it was in a poor state. It was occupied by Royalist forces during the Civil War, but fell to Parliament and subsequently intentionally damaged to put it beyond military use. Its owner then stripped it of useful materials.
Conwy Castle is part of a World Heritage Site.
Ruined castle dramatically perched on a headland and towering over the small town of Criccieth. This was originally a Welsh castle, begun by Llywelyn the Great in the 13th century, but it was added to over time - and frequently changed hands between the Welsh and the English. It is dominated by an enormous gatehouse and, allegedly, the scorches made by the flames that finally destroyed it in the 15th century can still be seen on the stonework.
Dinas Bran Castle, or Castell Dinas Brân (Crow Castle in English), is a legendary ruined fortress built on the site of an Iron age hillfort. The medieval castle was probably built in the 1260s by Gruffudd ap Madog, Lord of Powys Fadog. However, to prevent it falling into English hands, the Welsh burned it to the ground shortly afterwards and, by 1282, it had been abandoned. Part of it was later used as a dwelling and it was apparently home to a Myfanwy Fychan in the 14th century, for whom the poet Hywel ap Einion Llygliw (c1330-1370) wrote a love poem - Myfanwy Fychan of Castell Dinas Brân. There are many legends and stories associated with Dinas Bran - it was the castle of Bran, hiding place of the Holy Grail - etc. The site is only accessible by foot and is about 1,000 feet (307m) above sea level.
With a dramatic background and probably built by Llywelyn ab Iorwerth ('the Great') early in the thirteenth century, the ruins of Dolbadarn Castle are dominated by a massive round-towered keep, still standing up to 50 feet (15.2m) high, with walls up to 8 feet (2.4m) thick. Access to the keep was via a removable staircase at first floor level. The castle occupies a strategic location guarding the Llanberis Pass and was seized by an English army under the Earl of Pembroke in 1282, following which it was abandoned and pillaged for building materials. It is possible it was used again during the revolt under Owain Glyndwr in the late 14th/early 15th century.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, as its name suggests, is predominantly coastal. and has been likened to Cornwall without the crowds. It offers a 260-mile coastline in south-west Wales, but in addition to high cliffs, dramatic seascapes and beautiful sandy beaches, it also has inland hills to explore. It is renowned for its wildlife, including seals and dolphins, and prehistoric sites.
Remains of a communal tomb constructed maybe around 3,500 BC. The remaining stones form a doorway with a capstone on top some 17 feet (5.1 metres) long and weighing an estimated 16 tonnes. It is thought the original structure would have been about 120 feet (36 metres) long. Bits of pottery and worked flint have been found on site, but no human remains have been found.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain and a World Heritage Site. It was designed by Thomas Telford and carries the Llangollen Canal over the valley of the river Dee. The Aqueduct is 336 yards long, 42 yards high and 4 yards wide. You can walk across (the advice is not to look down), or take a boat.
Portmeirion is a fantasy village in North Wales created by architect Clough Williams-Ellis from 1925-1976. It has no other purpose than as a place of enjoyment, where you can just wander about, have something to eat, attend an event, or stay. There is an Italian feel to the village, which has mostly been constructed from scratch but which also includes structures moved from other locations. It was made famous as the setting for the 1960s TV series, 'The Prisoner'.
Note - dogs are not welcome, except guide dogs. Children are allowed in, though.
Though it still manages to look formidable, Raglan is a picturesque castle, built with an eye to comfort and fashion - and built by a Welshman, William Herbert. It began life relatively recently, for a castle, in the 1430s, was besieged and captured by Parliamentary forces in 1646 and then 'slighted' to prevent further defensive use. Set in parkland and once surrounded by gardens, its features include a separate keep surrounded by a moat and a stunning oriel window.