Gazetteer of Wales

gazetteer of Wales

 

This site contains a great many references to towns and villages in Wale

Aberdaron

Almost the end of the Lleyn peninsula, though you can get further west by following the National Trust's two mile track to Uwchmynydd, a superbly wild headland with views to Bardsey Island off Lleyn. In fact Aberdaron was once the port for the pilgrims going to Bardsey, today it is a very pleasant village, with narrow winding streets and a pub worth a stop at for lunch

Abersoch

Known foremost for sailing, Abersoch's harbour and estuary on the south side of the Lleyn, are choc a bloc with sailing craft of all shapes and sizes. If you do not want to sail, then there are plenty of sandy beaches, or try a spot of mackerel fishing off the St Tudwal Islands - the sea off Lleyn is rich in fish. The St Tudwal Islands themselves are privately owned, but there are regular trips from Abersoch to view the caves and seabirds round the islands.

The next bay, Hells Mouth Bay (Porth Neigwl) occupies the south facing cusp at the end of the Lleyn. It is known for its strong rip tides, that grind the boulders on the beaches


Aberystwyth

Although a resort town, Aberystwyth has also the original building for the University College of Wales and is the home of the National Library of Wales. It is the largest town in Mid Wales

The University College of Wales (established in 1874) is spread across many buildings in the town, and many of them can be visited by asking at the porters lodges.

The National Library of Wales contains something like 2 million books and 4 million Welsh records. It took from its inception in 1873 until 1955 to be completed. It contains among other treasures, the Black Book of Carmarthen, which dates from the 12th century, and the White Book of Roderick

If you just want to enjoy the resort, then there are sand and pebble beaches, public gardens, and the ruins of a castle (built, as were most Welsh castles, by Edward I) is now a pleasant park where you can sit and enjoy the views across Cardigan Bay.

Aberystwyth has the longest electric cliff railway in Britain, which takes you to the top of Constitution Hill.

Criccieth

Guarded by the ruins of a 12th century castle on the cliffs above, Criccieth has been relatively unspoilt by modern developments. The south facing resort on the Lleyn, is very sheltered, and has good sand and shingle bathing beaches

The local name is David Lloyd George, born and lived just outside Criccieth, he is buried at Llanystumdwy a few miles away, where there is also a Lloyd George museum. Lleyn is a mecca for those researching Lloyd George

Nefyn

The town has a long history, dating from Saxon times, continuing with a visit by Edward I in 1284. While 4 miles away is the old smuggling port of Porth Dinllaen on the north Lleyn coast. And four miles north of the town there is a magnificent walk up to the Iron Age encampment, the Town of the Giants (Tre'r Ceiri), from where you get panoramic views

Porthmadog

Porthmadog is your entry point to the Lleyn Peninsula

At the mouth of the River Glaswyn, the twin towns of Porthmadog and Tremadog, were built on reclaimed land by a local MP in the 19th century. Today there is a picturesque harbour and sandy bathing beaches.

Shelly, the poet, was a regular visitor here, and is said to have written "Queen Mab" in the area.

Portmeirion

Portmeirion is close to Porthmadog at the base of the Lleyn.

Built by the architect Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion is something altogether different. Started in 1926, its design is based on Portofino in Italy. Gardens were planted with exotic plants (which grow well in the mild climate in Lleyn) , an Italian campanile, castle and lighthouse were built. The hotel is today the centre of the village life, and many of the buildings are available for rent.

Film makers have naturally been interested in Portmeirion, particularly the Prisoner, the cult series of the 60's. Noel Coward wrote Blythe Spirit at Portmeirion

Pwllheli

Pwllheli is the largest resort on the Lleyn Peninsula. The five mile sweep of South Beach has led to the development of a modern seaside resort at Pwllheli. The town's harbour is a good base for sea fishing the seas off Lleyn - mackerel, bass and pollack in particular.

Colwyn Bay

Major modern seaside resort with a three mile wide bay. All the usual amenities on the coast, plus a zoo.

There is a good walk for two miles up the Nant-y-Glynn valley to Christ Church at Bryn-y-maen. Climb the church tower to get views for miles over the surrounding countryside.

Conwy

The town grew, on the coast, around the medieval castle, which is still in good repair today. Conwy Castle was built in the shape of a Welsh harp, its walls are 15 feet thick and a walk round their perimeter takes over half a mile. It was started, as were many Welsh castles, by Edward I in the late 13th century. It was here that Richard II finally surrendered to Henry Bolingbroke in 1399.

Telford's suspension bridge spans the Conwy river, and it was designed to compliment the castle's architecture.

Bodnant Gardens, 3 miles south of Conwy, are one of the most beautiful gardens in Britain, with the River Conwy and Snowdon in the background

Flint

Flint is another Welsh  market town that grew from its medieval castle. The castle is now in ruins

Llandudno

The biggest of all the Welsh coastal holiday resorts, Llandudno lies between the headlands of Little Orme and Great Orme, with a great crescent of sandy beach in between

To get to admire the view from the top of Great Ormes Head 680 feet high, take the cable car, or the funicular railway , or by road, or if you are really keen a brisk walk up Happy Valley. Little Ormes Head is still 465 feet high, and has views over the coast and Snowdonia from its craggy summit.

The town itself has managed to retain a lot of its original character, and has avoided being spoilt in the way that many of the Victorian resorts on the coast of Britain have been

Llangollen

Llangollen is an ideal holiday location, set below the hills in the Dee Valley. In July each year Llangollen  hosts the International Musical Eisteddfod.

You can stroll quietly along the River Dee or the more energetic can walk in the surrounding hills.

If your interest is canoeing, Steam trains, Canal boats you will find all this at Llangollen plus many antique and book shops.

Llangollen bridge crosses the River Dee, near the centre of Llangollen, dates from 1346 and is a scheduled ancient monument.

Valle Crucis Abbey dating from the 13th century is 2 miles from Llangollen, while the gothic Plas Newydd with its stained glass windows and elaborately carved oak panels is on the outskirts of Llangollen.

The remains of Castell Dinas Bran (Crow Castle) perched high on an isolated hill above Llangollen can be reached by a
steep climb, from where the views of Llangollen and the Dee Valley are superb.

Mold

A quiet market town, away from the bustle of the coast with an interesting High Street, whose buildings include a 15th century church.

Llanferres, 4 miles to the south west, gives good views over the mountains beyond

Prestatyn

More than just a popular holiday resort on the North Wales Coast. Prestatyn was at the northern end of Offa's Dyke, the massive earthwork that marked the Welsh English boundary in the 8th century, and named after King Offa of Mercia who ordered its construction. It stretched from Prestatyn to Chepstow on the River Severn in England.

There are 4 miles of sandy beaches on one side, and good walking country on the other. Walks Gwaenysgor, with its Norman church, are particularly fine.

Rhyl

Known mainly as a modern seaside resort, with two enormous funfairs, the resort is packed with the usual amusements that are de rigor for such clientele visiting the coast.

King Edward I is said to have proclaimed his infant son the first Prince of Wales at Rhuddllan Castle, 2 miles south of  Rhyl

St Asaph

St Asaph is not on the north Wales coast, but is inland A city - as it has a cathedral- and is one of the smallest cities in Britain. The cathedral dates from 573 AD, but the present building is partly Norman, mainly 15th century. It was extensively restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1870

2 miles away at Cefn Caves are the remains of pre-historic man that are thought to be over 50,000 years old

Aberaeron

In the 19th century, the port of Aberaeron had a busy ship-building industry, but today it is fishing and tourism that sustain the town

For the tourist, there are two bathing beaches, a sailing centre, magnificent walks within easy reach. The beauty of the Aeron Valley and the Teifi Valley (with its salmon and trout fishing)  is not far distant. Here you can also watch fishermen paddling coracles, the traditional small craft made by stretching canvas over a wicker frame.

Borth

A small village, with a main street of quaint cottages, right on a pebble beach. Beyond are miles of sand. Should you be interested in rare bog plants, then just inland is Borth Bog, home to many rare species

Cardigan

Cardigan Castle did not survive the Civil War, was partly blown up in 1645, and all that now remains is odd bits of the structure. There is an interesting medieval seven arched bridge over the River Teifi in the town.

And just outside Cardigan is a wildlife park with many birds and animals

Devil's Bridge

Why should this be one of the most visited of all natural attractions in Wales? The answer is that there are three bridges built close together across a deep gorge . The 12th century Devil's Bridge is the lowest of the three. Combine the bridges, with the gorge and with a series of dramatic waterfalls, one over 300 feet high, and  there is the answer.to the popularity

Lampeter

An attractive central Wales market town on the River Teifi. It is the home of an important seminary for Church of Wales ministers - St David's College

New Quay

Tucked away, but worth a visit, the houses at New Quay rise in terraces from the sandy beach and small harbour. The 300 foot high New Quay Head looms above it all. The town is pretty, and the views from the head breath taking

Tregaron

From its position, on the Teifi in mid Wales, you will not be surprised to learn that Tregaron is a pony trekking centre.There are plenty of mountains and open moorland to take the ponies on.

A peculiarity is the Bog of Tregaron, being 4 miles long makes it the largest in England or Wales, and it is still growing!

Anglesey

Although on the edge of Snowdonia, Anglesey does not have any mountains. Anglesey has been a centre of Celtic culture for thousands of years. The Druids made a major stand against Roman invasion on Anglesey, and even today most people on the island speak Welsh.

The scenery on Anglesey is a mixture of  small farms and stone villages inland, and a rugged cliff coast of Anglesey is interspersed with sandy coves and  wonderful bathing beaches.

You can approach Anglesey via Telford's famous 1826 suspension bridge, and can explore the wealth of interesting places to see that cover the whole range of Welsh history. There are pre-historic tumuli, churches and manor houses from the Middle Ages, Beaumaris Castle built by Edwards I , and Llanfair PG, whose full name is the longest place name in Britain


Beaumaris

One of the prettiest towns in Wales, not just Anglesey. Beaumaris is named after 'beau marais' (fair marsh). The castle was built in 1295 by that great builder of Welsh castles, Edward I, in order to guard the Menai Straits and Anglesey. The castle is moated, and originally boats could directly enter the moat from the sea. The lock gate entrance protected the tidal dock which allowed supply ships to sail right up to the castle

The most technically perfect castle in Britain. This outstanding fortress is a World Heritage inscribed site. Its four successive lines of fortifications were state of the art for the late 13th century. Its has an ingenious and perfectly series of symmetrical concentric 'walls within walls' .

Beaumaris Castle is in fact a great unfinished masterpiece. It was built as one of Edward I's  'iron ring' of North Wales castles, to subdue the Welsh. However it was never finished as he ran out of money  before the castle walls reached their full height.

Beaumaris is nonetheless an awesome sight, regarded by many as the finest of all the great Edwardian castles in
Wales, it was also the last. Beaumaris was the biggest and most ambitious venture ever undertaken by the king's military architect, the brilliant James of St George.

The town has some interesting pubs, like the 15th century Old Bull's Head, and the Tudor Rose. There is a 17th century court house used on occasion by Judge Jeffries. Rows of Victorian cottages designed by Joseph Hansom (of Hansom Cab fame). Half timbered houses, and much more

Cemlyn Bay

Right on the north shore of Anglesey, there is a deep bay and a sheltered beach. In addition, the National Trust own a two mile stretch of the coast here, which is run as a wildlife sanctuary. At nearby Cemaes Bay there is a picturesque stone quay, sandy beaches and cliff walks - more of the nice beaches on Anglesey

Holyhead

A causeway joins the Holy Island to Anglesey. Out to the west you can see Ireland. Holy Island has been known to have traded with Ireland for four thousand years. Anything from axes to gold came into Anglesey. Today the boats still run to Ireland from Holyhead harbour

When on Holy Island, be sure to climb Holyhead Mountain to get the benefit of the view to Ireland as well as to the Isle of Man, Cumbria, Snowdonia as well as Anglesey itself. There is also the cruciform church of St Cybi, dating from the 13th century

Llanfair PG

Llanfair PG is a shortened form of the full Welsh name, which runs to 57 consonants.It means in English "the church of St Mary by the hollow of the white aspen, over the whirlpool, and St Tysillio's church close to the red cave" There is naturally a number of souvenirs available that capitalise on the long name, or just take your photo beside Anglesey's long railway station name

Penmon

The stony beach at Penmon is just north of Beaumaris on Anglesey, and looks across to great Orme and Llandudno, as well as Snowdonia. Out to sea is Puffin Island, the home of a hermit in 540, there are the remains of a Norman church on the island, but today it is a seabird sanctuary. And just inland on Anglesey itself is St Seiriol's 12th century priory church, complete with the well in which the saint baptised converts

Bala Lake Lake Bala, on the edge of Snowdonia, is 4.5 miles long and about a mile wide - it is the largest natural lake in Wales. The small town of Bala at the northern end of the lake is an excellent fishing and sailing centre

In the depths of the Lake live the rare white scaled Salmon - gwyniad. The lurk 80 feet down in the lake, and can only be caught by net.Snowdonia has some rare things to offer

As most places in Wales, Bala has a colourful Welsh history - there is the legend of a lost palace beneath the lake. Also the Welsh emigrants to Patagonia in Chile in 1865, came mainly from the Bala area - even today there are still Welsh speaking people in Chile, descended from these original emigrants. In the Andes instead of Snowdonia

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Bangor Bangor is the cathedral and university city of North Wales. The city dates from a monastery in the sixth century which had a protective fence or "bangor" round it. It is only about 15 miles from Mount Snowdon, so an easy drive to see Snowdon from here.

The present cathedral is 19th century, but is on the site of the much older monk's church. Bangor Cathedral was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott - who also designed among other things, the Albert Memorial.

A mile to the east is Penrhyn Castle, now owned by the National Trust. The first castle here was built in the 12th century - a lot of Snowdon's castle were built then- but the present building was erected between 1827 and 1840 in a neo Gothic style and has a seven mile perimeter wall

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Barmouth Where the mountains of Snowdonia sweep down to the sea!

A seaside resort dating from Victorian times, developed because of the 2 miles of sandy beaches. The cliffs just outside Barmouth were the first property that the National Trust acquired in 1895 - in Britain, not just in Wales. Just to the east of the town, a spectacular walk (the Panorama Walk), branches off to the north of the main road, and follows a series of terraces upwards, with views over the estuary. Snowdonia behind you, and the sea in front.

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Beddgelert A small village, 10 miles inland from Caernarfon, where three valleys meet. It is close to the Beddgelert Forest, and Snowdonia towers above. There is a forest trail and a route up to Aberglasyn Pass, with view over the Glaslyn, a mountain torrent. Park you car near the bridge
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Bethesda 6 miles inland from Bangor on the A5. North Wales has been a synonym for slate, and Bethesda is a synonym for Welsh slate. Apart from the 1000 ft deep slate quarries deep into the Snowdonia mountains, it is the starting point for the climb to Nant Ffracon Pass. A road with splendid views over the Snowdon Mountains, running between the peaks of Carnedd Dafydd and Glyders.

At the head of the pass is Llyn Ogwyn - a breathtaking Snowdon mountain pass

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Betws-y-coed A popular Welsh tourist village that stands at the junction of three of Snowdonia's  rivers and their valleys. Much of the village was built in Victorian times. Numerous Craft and outdoor activity shops are in the village.

It's name means "chapel in the wood" and indeed it is surrounded by the Gwydyr Forest. It is  deservedly known as a walking centre for Snowdonia - the Swallow Falls and the Fairy Glen are each about 2 miles walk from the town

It is set in a beautiful valley in the Snowdonia Forest Park and is ideal for outdoor activity holidays.

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Blaenau Ffestiniog The heart of the slate quarrying country in Snowdonia. The blue slate crags loom over the town on all sides - and there are a number of working quarries that you can visit. Snowdon is not all slate, but you might think so after seeing this

Grand walking and fishing country, with over a dozen lakes in walking distance of the town. A path a mile to the south west, from Tanygriseau takes you to waterfalls near Lake Cwmorthin.- some of Snowdonia's prettiest

From Ffestiniog, 2.5 miles to the south is also a good walking centre, try the 200 foot high Rheaadr-y-Cwm waterfall 3 miles east of  the town

And there is the 13.5 miles of narrow gauge Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog (on the coast) which was built to carry out the slate from the quarries of Snowdonia, but is now used for passengers to view the spectacular scenery of Snowdonia

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Cader Idris A little south of Mount Snowdon,  Cader Idris   ("Arthur's Chair" in English) is 2927 feet high. There are a number of routes to the top, the easiest being from Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, 3.5 miles south west of the summit of Cader Idris

Not a mountain for beginners to attempt - there is a legend that anyone who sleeps the night on the summit will wake up blind, mad or a poet - I suppose it depends if you really want to be a poet and are prepared to take the chance. Snowdonia has much to offer!

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Caernarfon On the northern edge of Snowdonia, this historically important town is on the Menai Straits, which separate Anglesey from North Wales. The wonderfully preserved castle dominates the town. Edward I was born in the castle in 1284. And in this century, both the Duke of Windsor in 1911 and Prince Charles in 1969, were invested as Princes of Wales in the Castle

Perhaps it owes its preservation to the fact that it was a Cromwellian stronghold during the Civil War

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Capel Curig Another of the mountain villages tucked under Snowdon. A mountaineering centre, with also a National Nature Reserve and trout fishing in Lake Mymbyr
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Dolwyddelan A village on Snowdon's spectacular winding road from Blaenau Ffestioniog to Betws-y-Coed. Just west of the village is the 12th century castle, the birthplace of Llewelyn the Great, which finally fell to the English King in 1283

There are a number of good walks from the village into the surrounding foothills of Snowdon

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Dongellau South west of Snowdon, a picturesque town at the head of a long estuary. The buildings are mainly of local slate. There are a number of excellent walks ranging in strenuousness - the Precipice Walk circles a high ridge just north of the town. The Torrent Walk follows the River Clywedog for about a mile up a valley. There are other walks that will give you better views of Cader Idris in the distance
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Harlech The vast castle built by Edward I in 1283, to help him rule Wales. Harlech Castle seems to grow naturally from the rock on which it is perched.There is a sense of harmony here, created by the way in which the castle builders took care to exploit the sites natural advantages. It dominates the plain below. The fortress's massive inner walls and towers still stand almost to their full height.

Again lots of history associated with the castle - Owen Glendower's wife was taken prisoner here by Henry V. Ironically, in 1404 it was taken by Welsh leader Owain Glyn Dwr who proceeded to hold a parliament here. And of course there is the song, "Men of Harlech", written to commemorate the bravery of the defence of the castle during the Wars of the Roses. It was the last castle in the country to be held by the Royalists during the Civil War. Contrast Caernarfon held by the Cromwellians - not all of Snowdonia, let alone Wales was no the same side

Today it is very peaceful, and there are spectacular views out to sea and to the Lleyn Peninsula The castle's  battlements spring out of a near vertical cliff face, while any landward attackers would first have to deal with a massive twin-towered gatehouse. The sea, like Snowdonia, is one of the keys to Harlech's siting. Seaborne access was crucial in times of siege, and although
the waters of Tremadog Bay have receded over the centuries, they may originally have come up to the foot of the cliffs beneath the castle.

Because Harlech has a combination of magnificent medieval architecture and breathtaking location, it is a castle that one must visit. It is a World Heritage Inscribed site.

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Llynberis The starting point of the easy way up Snowdon - the railway. It is also the starting point of the easiest path up Mount Snowdon

A narrow gauge railway also runs along the shore of Lake Padarn, which gives spectacular views of Snowdon

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Llyn Ogwen In the heart of Snowdonia, approached via the Nant Ffrancon Pass from Bethesda, it is a shallow lake about a mile long.  Legend links it with Arthur - and is (perhaps) where Sir Belvidere may have thrown Excalibur. Like many Celtic cultures, Wales claims Arthur as their own

In Snowdonia's winter the shallow waters freeze over, in a wonderland setting

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Llan Gwanant The Pen-y-Gwryd pub, 6 miles north east of Beddgelert, is the base for visiting Nantgwynant and Llan Gwynant. This pub was the training base for Sir John Hunt's team that was the first to climb Everest in 1953. Climbing on Snowdon is a good limber up for Everest

The waymarked walk from the road to Llan Gwynant takes about an hour

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Llanwryst An old market town in the Conway Valley, due east of Mount Snowdon. A fine stone bridge , said to be designed by Indigo Jones, crosses the river
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Portmeirion Portmeirion is perhaps the last place you would expect to see in Wales, surrounded by Snowdon and the Welsh Mountains

Built in 1926 by Clough Williams Ellis, a showpiece village based on Portofino in Italy. Williams-Ellis built a hotel, planted trees, erected many architectural fantasies including an Italian campanile, lighthouse and castle. There are splendid gardens full of exotic plants.

The village has been used for filming - The Prisoner. And Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit there

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Snowdon Snowdon is not the highest mountain in Britain, it can claim to be the most spectacular. There are lots of walks up to the summit of Snowdon from villages all round the mountain, ranging from brisk walks to full climbing routes with crampons. Mind you for the less energetic, there is always the train from Llanberis to Snowdon's summit. It is a rack and pinion railway that mounts gradients as steep as 1 in 5, as it wends its way 5 miles up to the top of  Snowdon

As for walks, the easiest route up Snowdon follows a track alongside the rack and pinion railway from Llanberis. Then from the top of Llanberis Pass, three other routes fan out, the easiest is the miners track ( the name dating from Snowdon,s miners needing to get to work) which climbs from the shore of Llyn Lady. The Pig Track from there is harder and the third route, over Crib Goch, is not for the inexperienced - Snowdon is not just a big pussy cat.

On the west of Snowdon, two tracks are worth mention. Beddgelert Track which starts 2 miles north of the village, is the harder of the two. The easier is the Snowdon Ranger Path starting from the shore of Llyn Cwellyn

The experienced climber might consider the Watkin Path from Nantgwynant on the south side of Snowdon. You need proper climbing gear for this ascent of Mount Snowdon

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