A Weekend in Sunny Llandudno – and beyond!

Oops! One thing I have noticed it is very easy to do, is start blogs and websites, and then find that a few months have gone by without adding anything! Mind you, I do run a lot of websites (as part of my business), so I hope fellow Llandudno fans can forgive me for letting this blog lapse a little – despite the fact I visited Llandudno a couple of months ago, and have just got back from the most glorious, sunny weekend there (and in Betws-y-Coed) – which has prompted me to get the dust off my Llandudno blog and start to make some use of the material I have archived, together with fresh material – this weekend I took around 500 photos, and about half an hour’s worth of video clips.

I will begin with this weekend’s visit, although I do have some interesting material from my visit in April, which I will hopefully cover in due course. This trip had something of everything – sun, sunsets, beach walks, boat rides, bus rides, cable car rides, walks, fireworks on the beach and even a set of bruised ribs!

Life has been pretty hectic for me of late (I have trouble remembering when it wasn’t!) so a trip to Llandudno seemed just the remedy. I pulled in to Llandudno train station from Manchester (or Manceinion as the Welsh describe it) at about 2.30 on Friday June 6th, 2008, and the weather was lovely and sunny, so much so I had to buy a baseball cap to keep my head unburned until I could unpack my sun hat! So I checked into the lovely Seaclyffe Hotel, unpacked, and was off – in fact at that point I decided to jump on a bus to venture out to Colwyn bay, as I fancied a walk on the beach there, having seen the beach front and promenade so many times from the train en route and on the way out of Llandudno. The beauty of Llandudno is that there are so many beautiful places within easy reach, as well as the joys of Llandudno itself!

gulls on Colwyn Bay beach, June 2008

So I got there and found Colwyn Bay beach, and had a lovely walk, looking out to sea and watching the people walking their dogs. Later on, as I waited for the bus, there was a crazy altercation between some locals outside a pub, which thankfully didn’t develop into a full blown fight! Anyway, it was back to Llandudno, where I made my way to the West shore to watch the sunset – and a spectacular and beautiful West shore sunset it was!

sunset at Llandudno west shore - June 6th 2008

Saturday I rose early, and after gathering provisions, I headed off to Betws-y-Coed, a place I always like to visit if I can – the weather looked promising, and I reckoned if I was going to visit again, I had better do it on the Saturday rather than be at the mercy of Sunday trains! In any case, I got there, and because I had started to develop sore feet (due to running a lot lately), I didn’t get as far as I had envisaged, although I did enjoy a meal at the Swallow Falls cafe, and enjoyed an intriguing walk – I thought I was venturing out into the middle of nowhere, after crossing a bridge a few miles down from Swallow Falls, and heading into thick forest, I headed down a hill and came to a nice picnic area, then climbed over a stile and followed a river until I ended up back at the small waterfall down from Swallow falls – a round trip! Later on I started to feel a little unwell, so headed back down into Betws-y-Coed, and had a wander through the little park next to the Pont-y-Pair bridge. I saw a notice nailed to a tree and a stile, which I thought looked quite familar, and was struck with the similarity between it and my earlier surroundings – then it clicked that it was the same place, and somehow my long walk into the wilderness had in fact led me right back into the middle of Betws-y-Coed!

I headed back into Llandudno, where I took a walk along the promenade, and noticed some police tape out on the sand, and also at the edge of the promenade. It became apparent that a fireworks display was in the offing, so I decided to stay out and watch. It grew dark, and I saw the Chap in his boiler suit (with “Celebration Displays” across the back) run into the St George’s Hotel (the first hotel to be built on Llandudno Promenade back in 1854!) and then run back out, and watched as he donned his safety wadding and helmet.

wedding fireworks on llandudno beach St George's Hotel Saturday June 7th 2008

Then I watched as smartly dressed guests filed out of the hotel – so I assumed they were holding a wedding reception, and this was to be their fireworks display! So off we went with fireworks, to end a lovely day, as multicoloured explosions echoed off the pebbles and buildings and lit up the night sky. Whoevers wedding it was, congratulations – I wish you well – and if it was your wedding fireworks display, why not post a comment and let us know!

Llandudno beach north shore Sunday June 8th 2008

My second day was so packed full of activities, I hope to post more about each in more details in coming days – but for now offer a summary! What a glorious sunny summer’s day it was – just the kind of day Llandudno was made for. I started with a soya caramel latte in Costa over on the retail park, and ended up watching the sky darken over the great Orme. In between, I enjoyed Codman’s Punch and Judy, the official tour on the bus, rides on Gorgeous Gussie and a speedboat (jumping into which I hit my left ribs with all my weight, and it still hurts…), and then headed up on to the Orme via the Cable Car, which I had never been on before! What an eerily silent experience that was, like floating through the air! Except when the car went past the support poles, which made quite a racket!

Orme and Llandudno bay after sunset, Sunday June 8th 2008

In any case, I enjoyed a Coffee in the Captain’s Table, before dozing in the sun for an hour, then headed off around the Orme, returning to town via Happy Valley (not before finding my old friends the Kashmiri goats once again!). Almost exhausted, I spent another couple of hours wandering around the beach, and taking photographs as the sky turned a lovely shade of flushed pink, and those plaintive seagull cries marked the end of my last evening in Llandundo – until the next time.

I’ve interspersed a few photos of Llandudno here in the blog post – have only just got back, so when I’ve done more sorting of the pictures, I will make another gallery with higher resolution photos :)

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The Great Orme Tramway – Video Clip

I have already recounted my first few hours in Llandudno, where I walked up the Little Orme then enjoyed a nice meal! However, on my first full day, my plan was to venture up the Great Orme, and rest my weary legs by using the Great Orme Tramway! I had read about the Tramway and took a peek the night before, so I found the station easily and bought my ticket, and felt a real sense of adventure and exhilaration as the tram shuddered and began to snake its ascent up some very steep streets (I could only wonder how people might walk up them after a night on the town!) It was great to watch the other tram go past on its way down!

The tramway is split into two sections, and half way up the Orme you have to alight at the halfway station and get on another tram to get up to the summit station and complex (although you can just get a ticket for the half way station if you want, as there is plenty to explore at that level, including the Great Orme Mines. The Great Orme Tramway in Llandudno is Britain’s only remaining cable operated street tramway and one of only three surviving in the world!

For more info on this marvel of engineering, visit the following sites:

http://www.greatormetramway.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Orme_Tramway
http://www.greatorme.org.uk/tramhistory.html

Also hope you enjoy the following little video clip of the Great Orme Trams leaving and arriving at the Great Orme Summit station :)

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From Goats of The Orme To Ghosts – Visiting The Cromlech

Last time I took a look at the Great Orme goats, and the Great Orme really is a place teeming with life of all kinds. However, it is also a place where we may expect to find marks of the dead (indeed the entire being of the Orme, limestone, owes its existence to the millions of sea creatures which eventually turned into the stone of which it is comprised!). The Orme was an ideal, defensible place for ancient tribes, and the remains of stone circles, settlements, wells, and burial sites can be found from Stone Age times. Perhaps most impressive among these is the Great Orme Cromlech, the remains of a neolithic burial chamber.

I had been wanting to see this Cromlech since I had visited Wales’s largest burial site, Tinkinswood in South Wales, earlier that summer. I’ve never been one for maps – I prefer to just explore, so on my first trip to Llandudno and the Orme, I had failed to find the Cromlech! However, on my second trip, in October 2006, I was to strike lucky.

The day I arrived I had witnessed a very lovely sunset on the West Shore, and the weather was incredibly mild and pleasant for mid October. In fact the next day, the 13th, was like a perfect midsummer’s day, so warm I had to remove my coat as I hopped off the tram at the half way station, and set off for more exploration. I first wandered over to St Tudno’s Church and the graveyard, my camera in hand before I realised the graveyard was fully functioning – as evidenced by recent flowers and a pair of gravediggers! In any case, I had a look around, and saw one of the great Orme wardens unloading stuff from one of the vans I see roaming over the Orme. He was a very pleasant Kenyan chap, and when I asked him where the Cromlech was, he told me, then kindly offered to give me a lift as he was going over that way. So off we went, and I found out he was a student from Kenya on work experience for his conservation degree – wherever he is now, I wish him well! Anyway, he dropped me off at the end of Cromlech Road (that would be the one!) and I walked down, climbed over the wall, and beheld the Cromlech at last!

cromlech neolithic burial chamber great orme llandudno

Here are some of my
pictures of the Great Orme Cromlech and I was also inspired to write a poem about my experience there, for it was a quiet, summer’s day, insects were buzzing, and I sat down and quietly reflected about the people who had built the tomb, and what there lives and deaths may have been like. It’s here at my poetry blog, but depends if you have a taste for poetry or not (although there are a few more poems about Llandudno there too, which I will mention in due course) :)

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Video of Goats of the Orme in Llandudno – some old friends revisited!

None of my visits to Llandudno would have been complete without a wander over The Great Orme (although before some very upsetting life events took over, I had taken to exploring further afield, around Snowdonia and Betws-y-Coed) – and every time I wandered the Orme, the Great Orme goats would find me, one way or the other! I remember fondly being followed down the steps beside the Llandudno ski centre, towards Happy Valley, on my last visit, I think a couple of kids mistakenly assumed I was their mother for a few moments :)

So this is the first of my Llandudno videos, hopefully I will be able to post lots more videos from my archives, as I did take some footage on previous trips. I also hope to be able to make some day trips to Llandudno this spring, although staying over is at the moment unfortunately not a real option (although who knows). Anyway, I hope this little video of the Great Orme Kashmiri Goats of Llandudno is of interest. I certainly hope to see them again soon, and perhaps take some more photos and videos of Llandudno and the places and things there that have become special to me.

The goats are one of the big wildlife attractions of Llandudno, and the following sites have some more information about these fascinating and admirable animals:

http://www.llandudno.com/goats.html
http://www.conwy.gov.uk/doc.asp?cat=1912&doc=1666
http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/348432

The following clips were taking in early spring, 2007

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Rounding Off My First Day In Llandudno

I had arrived mid-afternoon on my first day, so by the time I had enjoyed my walk up Llandudno’s Little Orme, and after a little wandering around Llandudno and making a few mental notes and plans for the next day (including where to get the Great Orme Tram!) it was time to check out the local eating places for some sustenance! I’m not a great one for eating out, a Subway will do me fine (so was pleased to note a Subway branch on Mostyn Street!) – however, I was in an adventurous mood, so after locating the Asda and other stores on the new retail park, I wandered a little and saw a nice little Italian restaurant called Mamma Rosa on the quiet Mostyn Avenue, a little outside the main town centre. It looked quite busy, and this being a Bank Holiday, I wasn’t convinced I would be able to get a seat, but I braved the entrance and asked a friendly woman if they had a table for one! They were able to accommodate me, and I enjoyed some gnocchi, with a beer, followed by ice cream. There was some kind of birthday party going on opposite me, and the atmosphere and food were most pleasant!

On the way back to my hotel (the Kensington) I spent some more time walking along the Llandudno promenade and taking in the sea air. The beer had given me a taste for some more alchohol (I rarely drink, but for some reason I often enjoy a drink when spending time in a new place). The hotel bar was quiet, albeit populated by some friendly Scottish folk who appeared to be visiting Llandudno as a coach party. I had a few pints and then had a few whiskies, and watched people coming into the hotel and the darkness falling.

After a good few drinks, I felt like revisiting the sea, and asked an astonished porter to let me out! I enjoyed a stroll to look at the waves in the dark, I think it was the first time I had been on a beach at night since my Swansea student days, and the experience brought back a lot of memories.

My evening was slightly tarnished when, on the beach, I decided to eat the after dinner sweet I had been given in Mamma Rosa – and I was promptly chewing not only the sweet, but a disintegrated filling! The tooth itself was quite jagged which would make it uncomfortable for the next few days, but nothing could dent my spirits as I headed back to the Kensington, and got to my room for some sleep (cut short by the unaccustomed sea gulls crying from 4am onwards!!)

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Down Memory Lane – My First Day In Llandudno

It was Monday, August 28th, 2006 – a Bank Holiday – that I first set foot in Llandudno. I had not been away anywhere for some time, and decided I needed a change of scenery from the urban jungle of Manchester – so after some research, I discovered this North Wales resort was more or less on my doorstep, which eventually led to my stepping off the train into dripping sunshine that August day, with my trusty wheeled rucksack in tow behind me.

At first I wandered, getting my bearings, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine, the fresh cries of the plaintive gulls, the bustle of the people on Mostyn Street and environs. I remember asking a traffic warden for directions to the Kensington Hotel, where I had a reservation, and then I made my way to the promenade, heard the strains of Flanagan and Allen’s “Underneath the Arches” played by a band, and saw the two headlands of the Great and Little Ormes, an expanse of beautiful blue sea, and fell in love with the place…

I have always felt the sea calling me (I did my undergraduate degree in Swansea, and have fond memories of beach walks and parties from those days!) – and now I felt at home for the first time in years, and my first walk was unplanned, sporadic, spontaneous – exactly how I have always liked it! I strode off along the pebbly beach, swift to find some balance, with sunglasses and my Lancashire cricket hat to keep off the sun (I remember a boy cried after me that he recognised the crest, and that he knew I was from the same place as him), and off I went walking, and walking, inhaling the scent of the sea air, filling my lungs and mind with the freshness and beauty of this new experience, observing the people, enjoying the steady, gentle warmth of the sun.

the little orme from north shore llandudno

In the distance was the little orme – I decided I was going to scale that beast! I only had a small amount of water with me, but noted a pub for emergency use as I made my way up Colwyn Road, looking for a pathway up this Little Orme! And for sure I found it, as I navigated a gateway and saw a sign pronouncing Rhiwledyn and off I trekked up steep paths and clambered over rocks and through brambles, until I stood more or less on the top of the Little Orme. The wind up there was incredible, and I feared for my hat (and my life!) as I tried to stay steady enough to take a few snapshots. I could just about make out the windmills of the offshore windfarm through the heat haze!

offshore windfarm llandudno from little orme

And so I gazed out and saw the beautiful sea and the sunshine, and the larger Orme out over the bay, and I could hear some commotion up above me, and wondered if it might be some sheep or goats but it was a couple with their dogs! Parched by now from my climb (and general lack of fitness!) I rested on a rock meditatively on the way down, and greeted the couple and their dogs as they passed. All in all my first few hours spent in Llandudno were a splendid awakening, with such glorious weather, such novelty – and I knew that a piece of my heart would remain here forever! I walked back to my hotel for a drink with a light heart and a thirst to drink in more of what this wonderful place, Llandudno, had to offer :)

Click here for more photos of my first LLandudno walk, the first of many beautiful walks North Wales would offer me!

To be continued…

Posted in Beaches, Musings, People, Places, Walks | 3 Comments

Hello world!

I love Llandudno – hence this blog! The twist is that due to my current circumstances, I am more or less prevented from visiting my favourite place, so I decided to start this blog about Llandudno to revisit some memories of the place, and hopefully share some of the joy this little Welsh resort has given me in the couple of years since I discovered it!

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