On arrival in Caerfarfon, we checked into the Celtic Royal Hotel and were given the keys to our room which was a delightfully charming and spacious room with one double and one single bed and we were pleasantly surprised to find a complimentary fruit basket and bottled water. The hotel was lovely, with a fabulous sweeping staircase as a central point that made it seem a shame to use the lift! The staff were very friendly & so helpful offering to help with our bags. As we arrived around 6pm, after exploring the downstairs and a look around the gorgeous leisure facilities, and a peek at the Brasserie Draco restaurant, we decided to eat in the Havana Bar & Bistro that evening. I chose a pepper roast salmon fillet on a creamy spaghetti with basil & parmesan and Oliver chose spaghetti bolognese from the kids menu which was actually the biggest and most generous portion I think I’ve ever seen which also came with garlic bread. The prices were extremely reasonable and the food was excellent. Relaxing background music in the bar added to our chilled out state of mind.
After a very much needed sleep in our extremely comfy beds, we headed to the restaurant for a hearty English breakfast, again staff were most pleasant and food delicious. We didn’t get chance to use the exclusive leisure club but did notice that it has a high tech gym, 16metre indoor heated swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, and steam room, all giving the opportunity to keep fit, tone up or simply relax.
Our first destination of the day was the very famous Caernarfon Castle, which is steeped in history so much so that you can almost feel the atmosphere in this wonderful setting. We climbed up some very steep and uneven steps to the top of the highest towers where you could see for miles and miles. There was a display in the Granary Tower about the investiture of the current Prince of Wales in 1969 and you could almost see the ceremony taking place on this amazing site.
I was told by the Custodian that they are currently planning for the Olympics which I am sure will be fantastic events to remember. They had a fabulous little shop inside the castle, which sold wonderful castle related toys, gifts and other items.
After a short pit stop at the hotel, to pick up some stuff, we took off on a trip to the village of Beddgelert and set in the most spectacular mountainside scenery we came across the Sygun Copper Mine. With our Bob The Builder hard hats on, we took off for the Victorian mine but only got as far as stage 3 as my 4 year old found it a little bit scary! We did however experience walking in the entrance tunnel and there were buttons to press to get audio commentary on the various stages of the mine. We saw the amazing stalactite and stalagmite formations before Ollie decided that he was a little on the scared side, so we returned the same way we came in.
The shop on site was full of delights, crystals, jewellery and small toy items and a great range of snacks available and we looked around the Museum of Antiquities which was really interesting. There were walks you could also do on the grounds of this mine where you can take in the stunning scenery. There was also pottery painting and metal detecting available on site, so you were certainly never going to get bored at this venue with lots to do for all the members of the family. We experienced the gold panning which was a lot of fun even though we left a little bit wetter than when we got there but we did manage to bring away a pot of gold! I sat in the sunshine to dry out, while Oliver played in the adventure playground which I had to coax him away from with a promise of a visit to the beach!
We had been advised by the Custodian at the Castle that there is a local beach which is well worth a visit, so we headed off to Dinas Dinlle which was about six miles away from Caernarfon and oh boy was he right! Obviously the 20 degree heat helped the situation but we took off our shoes and socks, rolled up our trousers (although Ollie decided it was easier to take his off completely) and headed for the waves (well ripples really!). The sea was jolly cold, but then it was March so I didn’t really expect Caribbean temperatures but it certainly got the circulation going.
When we’d dried off and got rid of as much of the sand that we could, we went back to the hotel, showered and changed and had tea in the Havana Bar & Bistro, again a lovely meal and I had a much deserved glass of wine after our very busy day!
After another night’s sleep in a bed that I was becoming very attached to, Sunday morning brought glorious sunshine again.
After breakfast we drove to Llanberis where we jumped on the Llanberis Lake Railway. This was a delightfully relaxing trip with amazing mountain views, passing the historic Dolbadarn Castle and next to the towering slate mountains. The sun sparkled off the lake and a short stop at the lakeside picnic site meant that we got chance to lap up the sunshine. We stopped for lunch at the cafe, a great range of food and drinks for both adults and children and all at very reasonable prices and the service excellent. The fully stocked shop had a number of toys and gifts to buy.
From there, we crossed the railway line to visit the National Slate Museum where you are invited to take a leisurely stroll around this amazing site which tells the story of North Wales’ slate industry and is set amongst huge slate mountains. A fantastic insight into how quarrymen lived and worked in days gone by really gave a feeling of stepping back into history and when I explained to Oliver that a tin bucket and a mangle was a way of doing the washing in those days he was quite fascinated! As he also was with the huge water wheel. After visiting the Chief Engineer’s House which was quite plush (as seen in the video above) there was a distinct contrast with the quarrymen’s houses which were very small and extremely basic.
In all, we had a fantastic weekend in North Wales, the weather, the delightful hotel and the venues that we visited, made this a weekend to remember and want to tell all our friends and family about, and it’s definitely a part of the world that we would love to revisit as there are millions of attractions that we have still yet to explore. Watch out Caernarfon, we will be back!
Kim & Oliver were guests of www.attractionsofsnowdonia.com.
Visit www.attractionsofsnowdonia.com for some great ideas of the best places to visit in Snowdonia. There are a massive range of galleries, museums, castles, historic houses, parks, train journeys and many other family fun days out.
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