Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Great Weekend in North Wales

Anne and I had a great weekend in North Wales recently, courtesy of the Attractions of Llanberis.

We had been invited to sample some of the region’s excellent tourist attractions, on what is known as a familiarisation weekend for group organisers.

We travelled up by train on the Friday, leaving behind a rainy day in Leicester. The train ride along the North Wales coast, via such places as Flint, Rhyl and Conwy, is one of the most scenic in the country.

In Bangor, we went and had a snack, and had a look round the cathedral – a very ancient foundation, this.

Then it was on by bus to Llanberis. There is a surprisingly good bus service operating in the Caernarfon – Bangor – Llanberis area, and this one took us on a lovely scenic route, at one point looking down on Llanberis and its lakes from above.

We stayed at the Quality Hotel Snowdonia, which was formerly the Royal Victoria. We had spent a couple of nights here a few years ago. Our room, once again, was superb, with a view in one direction towards the lovely lake known as Llyn Padarn, and in another direction towards the lower slopes of Mount Snowdon.

On the first evening, there was a chance to chat to a few of the operators of tourist attractions in North Wales, and then we had dinner. About 10pm, Anne and I went out for a walk – in shirtsleeves. We would not have dreamed of going out dressed in such a way at that time of night at home.

In the morning, after breakfast, everybody boarded a coach, and we were taken on a very interesting tour with local guide Andrew Croxton. As a Blue Badge Guide myself, I expect high standards – but, believe me, Andrew was very good.

Our first visit was to Parc Glynllifon, where we admired the trees, plants and sculpture is this 70 acre site, as well as viewing the 18th century house. We also had a brief tour of the craft and design workshops, gallery and shop, which were obviously well and lovingly managed.

Then it was on to Inigo Jones Slateworks, where we had a cup of coffee and watched a very interesting video on the slate industry, with a commentary by John Lloyd, who runs the slateworks and is also the Chairman of the tourist group who organised the weekend.

Next we went into Caernarfon, the most Welsh-speaking town in Wales – but don’t worry, everybody speaks English as well! Andrew took us on a short tour of Caernarfon Castle, one of the mighty castles built by Edward I to overawe the Welsh people. Caernarfon, like Conwy, has a walled town in the shadow of the castle.

Then it was on to Penrhyn Castle, which is now run by the National Trust. Built in the 1840s with the profits from the hugely successful family slate business, not forgetting Jamaican sugar, Penrhyn has an awe-inspiring combination of vulgarity and magnificence. While there, we had an excellent buffet lunch in their roomy restaurant.

Most of the afternoon was spent at Electric Mountain. This involved a bus ride into the Dinorwig power station. The size of the undertaking was very impressive indeed, and there was a guide on the bus.

After going back to the hotel briefly, we got back on the coach for a short ride to Y Caban at Brynrefail. This is an arts, crafts and entertainment complex, with a growing sculpture garden. We had a great dinner there.

On the Sunday morning, after breakfast, we walked over the road to the terminus of the Snowdon Mountain Railway. We watched a short film about the railway, and then had the wonderful experience of travelling on the train, almost to the summit. The journey is amazing, and the views are staggering.

After that, we walked round to the National Slate Museum, where we had a good look round and sampled the café.

We had intended to catch the bus back to Bangor to catch the train. However, another bus turned up, and we bought a Rover ticket and caught this one instead. The point was that we then finished off the weekend with a wonderfully scenic ride, firstly through the spectacular Llanberis Pass to Betws-y-Coed, and then down the Conwy Valley to Landudno Junction.

It was, of course, very nice to be able to talk to group organisers from other parts of the country. There were people from Derby; Folkestone; Lymington; Manchester; Ramsgate; Stafford; and Sutton Coldfield.

We had a great weekend, and I am sure that it will lead to some business put in the way of North Wales by Colin Crosby Heritage Tours.

Our thanks go to Jacqui Knowles and her assistant Pat for organising such a smashing weekend.