About to embark on a caravan holiday to mid Wales, I thought now would be the perfect time to recollect our visit to North Wales earlier in the year.
For Andrew’s birthday back in March, I wanted to treat him to a quick 2-day getaway. We had already covered a lot of the places we had said we wanted to go in the UK last year, so I needed a bit of inspiration.
There are loads of different places that we use to plan our next trips away. Sometimes we will look for interesting things to do or quirky attractions to visit and then plan a trip to a nearby destination. This time I was unashamedly looking for a bargain! We had just maxed out on Christmas, Wedding and Honeymoon to New York all in one go! Oh and a house move on top of that! So a good value deal was a must.
I had never used Secret Escapes before but I had seen their adverts on TV so thought I’d take a look and see what it was all about. I searched through loads of great offers until I found a place I recognised: Ruthin Castle, North Wales. And for an absolute steal! Booked!
With one night booked at the castle, I thought it would be fun to have a rags and riches kind of break, so for our second night I booked us in a pink shepherds hut in Anglesey. (Hardly ‘rags’ but you seem what i mean…)
First stop – Conwy
In early March we weren’t expecting great weather, so we weren’t disappointed when we pulled into Conwy and were greeted by slanted rain and howling wind. We were fully prepared – rain coats and all.
One thing in particular that Wales is known for is it’s stunning historic castles – or at least that’s the landscape I most associate with it – and Conwy has it’s very own prime example.
You can walk along the castle walls, and to our delight, we found you can take cover in one of the many turrets that remain. So we did just that, and took out our sandwiches!
This is by far my favourite picnic spot to date. Huddled together in the turret of a ruined 13th Century castle, we celebrated Andrew’s birthday with cheese sandwiches, peering out of the arrow slits at the torrential downpour outside. There was something incredibly romantic about it all. Surrounded by all that history and hidden away as the storm raged on outside.
Suitably fed and with the rain dying down, we wandered down to the marina, which was bustling with fishermen, mussel traders, visiting school children queuing up for the obligatory ice cream, and a group of tourists waiting their turn for a picture in front of Britain’s Smallest House. (Myself included!)
There was a lovely vibe about the place, and the locals were all pretty friendly too…
Next stop – Llandudno
Inspired by the water, we jumped back in the car and set off up the road to nearby Llandudno – a famed Welsh seaside town.
It was strange to be wandering around a place like this on a weekday in early March, in the rain. Clearly low season, the town was unexpectedly quiet. It felt almost like a ghost town, but not in a bad way. In a sort of nostalgic way.
Looking out to the neglected pier, you could almost hear the screams of excitement from bygone summers carrying on the sea air. Expectant benches lined the promenade, awaiting warm bottoms to accompany them in soaking up the view. Tea rooms were slow and vacancy signs peered out from every other building, urging visitors to come and stay.
I actually really loved seeing this side of the place. Often when you visit popular tourist hot-spots like this on those sunnier days, you can miss the finer details.
Since it was Andrew’s birthday it made sense to stop off in a coffee shop and treat him to a birthday cake. We let the inviting oversized leather chairs envelope us as we tucked into a sharing of Red Velvet cake and a hot chocolate.
Now on the ultimate sugar high, I thought it would be a great idea to hit the arcades on the way back to the car. They were near enough empty so we had the run of the place. Delighted to find a good handful of change in my purse we set off in pursuit of the biggest fluffiest toy we could find.
We failed miserably – but what fun it was trying! I thoroughly recommend visiting an arcade with your partner as a fun alternative date day out. Perhaps finish it off sharing a bag of chips along the seafront.
On our way out of Llandudno we took the scenic route up and around Great Orme country park. Half way up the hill we saw a sight that took my breath away. By this point the clouds had moved on and the sun was shining (how long had we been playing arcade games for?!). Atop the hill was a quaint little church with a large churchyard – what a perfect resting place, a peaceful retreat looking out to the endless sea.
I hope they know in some way how lovely a spot they all have…
Final Stop – Ruthin
When we finally got to our destination of Ruthin Castle, we were blown away by the grandeur of the grounds. Really, this is for us?! We had never stayed in a place like this and I felt a bit of an impostor walking across the red carpet, passed regal lion statues, into the grand hallway with my bargain central Secret Escapes voucher in hand!
But despite my budget buy, the hotel staff were wonderfully friendly and incredibly attentive. We were shown through the castle to our room, and I almost asked the guy if he had taken us to the right place. The room was stunning. I must admit I had expected an offer (of just 2 figures for the night) in an old castle could only mean we would be held up in some antiquated musty old place. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Huge floor to ceiling windows, chandelier, fireplace, giant dressing table and a modern bathroom – just wow!
By now the sun was just about starting to set, casting a delicious golden glow across the grounds. Eager to explore before it got too dark, we headed off into the gardens.
We enjoyed a romantic stroll around the grounds, making friends with the resident peacocks, and sneaking kisses among some of the ruins.
We rounded the evening off by relaxing in the castle’s basement spa, complete with jacuzzi tubs, steam and sauna rooms and chilled relaxation area.
What a great first day in North Wales!
Check back in a few days when I’ll be recounting the second half of our North Wales trip including a stormy lighthouse, an enchanting forest, board games in the dark and an accident in a pink hut!