The first Bank Holiday in May and we decided to take a trip to Wales. Previous expeditions over this weekend have proved a bit hit and miss with the weather, this year was no exception to that rule. Our first port of call was Harlech Castle. We drove through incredibly beautiful scenery and the Snowdonia National Park to get there, just a shame the weather was wet, cold and entirely miserable.
The deeper into Wales we drove, the worse the weather became. Mid way through the journey we were shivering at 5 degrees centigrade, it warmed up to a balmy 8 degrees as we arrived in Harlech. Could this really be May we wondered and grumbled as we climbed out of the car in search of the castle.
The castle is easy to find, it dominates the little town of Harlech and those mighty ruins can be seen for miles around. The history is dramatic too and definitely worth reading before a visit.
The sea once crashed at the rocks below this fortress, now though it is land locked as the sea receded in the 19th century. It is still a spectacular location, wonderful views over the coastal flatlands and to the rugged peaks of Snowdonia. The castle was completed in the 1290’s, the brainchild of Edward I it was designed to hold down the conquered Welsh. Apparently it has been dubbed the “Castle of Lost Causes” as it has been defended unsuccessfully many times.
We paid our entrance fee and stepped inside armed with leaflets and information about the castle. Stunning to say the least, it is perched on a high crag with a gatehouse and round towers and those incredible walls. Substantially intact – we saw the moat, gates and portcullises, you even to this day get the feeling of a very mighty fortress. We adored exploring. The turreted gatehouses and ramparts are ripe for climbing and clambering.
Many signs everywhere advising of dangerous drops and to keep children under control – I don’t think my nerves could take it here with very little ones. I would suggest keeping them handcuffed to you – no other option would feel like the safe one for me here.
We climbed lots of winding stone staircases, walked the walls and took in those views.
After about an hour we left the castle and stopped for ice-cream at a little place just opposite. We watched as the man made chocolate ice-cream then decided on different flavours for our cones. All very delicious, we ate them huddled in another doorway to shelter from the driving rain. Only in the UK….
Harlech is a pleasant little town, every other shop seemed to be either selling tea or antiques. It was very sleepy though and a lot of places were closed. Maybe it bustles a bit more in summer.
We ended our day with a drive to the beach. The golden sands are 4 miles long and it looked like a superb spot for a walk – towering dunes and the sand looked clean and flat. Apparently there are many jellyfish in the bay here and sometimes you can see leatherback turtles offshore hunting these creatures. We weren’t so lucky – the wind, driving rain and freezing weather drove even the humans away from the beach. Still, good views of the castle from down here too.