During my parents recent trip over to visit us in the UK we decided to travel up to Anglesey. My dad was born on this island off the mainland’s north west coast in Wales, where the Menai strait is well-known. He still has family there, so it was a special trip. The last time we were here was December 2007 to visit my grandmother. I was still in school at the time and, of course, it was winter; so cold, wet, and gloomy. Prior to that we spent a few months here when I was five so I didn’t remember much. But this time was different. I was older, wiser, a lot more appreciative of the experience, and it was SUMMER! I got to experience Wales in a whole new light.
The Menai Strait is the sea channel that separates Anglesey from mainland Gwynedd. It’s connected to the mainland by the Menai suspension bridge and stretches for about 15 miles between Trwyn Penmon and Abermenai Point. If you looking to explore North Wales then accommodation close to the Menai Strait is a good place to look. We stayed in an Airbnb apartment in Bangor, which is about a 7 minute drive from Menai bridge.
We were in Wales for five days and at least three of those days we experienced clear skies and sunshine. It’s fair to say that we got lucky. Wales is not known for good weather, even in the summer months. From wandering around the beautiful Betws-y-Coed village in the Conwy Valley to taking a day trip out to Holyhead and exploring the beaches of Moelfre, we made the most of our sunny days here.
Getting around North Wales
You will absolutely need a car to get around if you really want to experience all that this region has to offer. While there is public transport there, it’s nowhere close to the level of the rest of the UK. We hired a car in London and drove up to Wales to ensure we had a car for our entire trip. Rentalcars.com is a good place to look.
North Wales has some of the most scenic driving routes in all of the UK. Hiring a car is not only a convenient way to get around but also a great way to take in all the beauty of the surrounding scenery. We had a bit of an advantage since my dad is familiar with the area (he has travelled back and forth to visit family over the years) and knew exactly where to take us. But, if you have an itinerary in mind, finding your way around shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.
The highlights of our North Wales trip
We managed to fit so much into our short trip up to Wales. We explored a great deal of the area and took in all the beauty that this exquisite part of the country has to offer. But, the number one highlight was undoubtedly seeing my great-uncle again. My dad has always been very close to his uncle who is now 88 years old. It was an emotional reunion. My dad last saw him about four years ago. We had previously seen him when we were last there in 2007. We shared some special moments that will be treasured forever.
Nothing can ever top family reunions. But here’s a glimpse at some of the other highlights of our trip.
Taking in views of Menai Strait
From Menai bridge you will find some of the most breathtaking views of the Menai Strait. In fact, the views here are some of the best in the world. There is a pedestrian path on each side of the bridge to walk across. We crossed the bridge on multiple occasion in the car during our stay but it’s not quite the same thing as taking a stroll across. One evening we decided to park the car, to walk across the bridge and experience the area on foot. The views were absolutely incredible.
On the Anglesey side of the Menai Strait, in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, yes I know, it’s a mouthful (welcome to Wales), I had to go to my instagram stories to check the spelling lol, you will also find some beautiful scenery. From this side you can get a wonderful view of the Menai bridge.
Taking a trip to Holyhead
Holyhead is a major Irish sea port serving Ireland. You can actually take day trips to Ireland from here (sadly we didn’t have enough time for this). Holyhead is the largest town on the island of Anglesey. We took a scenic road trip around Anglesey on one of our days in Wales and the drive up to Holyhead was so stunning. But, the highlight was the views of the South Stack lighthouse.
The South Stack lighthouse is built on the summit of a small island off the north-west coast of Holy island, about 3 miles from Holyhead. The cliff views from the viewing points of South Stack kitchen cafe are truly exquisite. We spent about an hour here – walking along the cliff trails, taking in the views and shopping the interesting memorabilia in the local shop next to the restaurant. I could have spent a lot more time here but we still had a jam-packed day ahead of us to see as much as we could.
Discovering Plas Newydd
Stumbling across Plas Newydd was a pleasant surprise. This was a place that my dad had never even been to before. None of us knew what to expect. And we were delighted when we arrived. Plas Newydd is a country house set in gardens, parkland, and surrounding woodland on the north bank of the Menai Strait. This was the home of the Marquess of Anglesey and hosts some spectacular views of Snowdonia.
We enjoyed some coffee and delicious cake in the outside area of the restaurant. It’s set in the beautiful gardens of Plas Newydd and isn’t short on some instagram worthy photo opportunities….Although we were there during summer, Plas Newydd is a place for all seasons. The garden is an explosion of colour during summer, but in spring you can enjoy the five acre Rhododendron Garden and autumn brings golden colours and masssed hydrangeas.
If there was an area in Wales that really took my breath away, it was Betws-y-coed. This is a village in Conway Valley and one of the primary tourist resorts in the famous Snowdonia National Park. The village is claimed to be Wales’ most popular inland tourist resort and it’s not hard to see why. This is one of the most picturesque little villages that I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Photo’s don’t quite do this place justice. It’s so quaint and cute here and looks magical to stay in a little house on the water.
The best discovery I made here was Edith – a metal Rhino that was created by South African artist Jacha Potgieter. It’s situated at the Betws-y-coed railway station and filled with bottle caps to raise awareness of the situation with Rhino’s in South Africa and how one is killed everyday for its horn. As a South African this really touched my heart. It was so great to see that awareness is being raised for such a heartbreaking and serious issue on the other side of the world. Rhino poaching has been an escalating problem in South Africa for more than a decade. To find out more you can visit the Savetherhino site.
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