Perhaps the most beautiful place in Wales, the magical town of Conwy has held onto its Medieval roots for hundreds of years, bringing both townspeople and tourists into the heart of a time seemingly long forgotten. I spent the better part of a rainy afternoon meandering through coastal Conwy, located just off the coast of the Irish Sea, with my two friends and their dog Rosie, breathlessly taking in the sights of the town. To present, this is the most ethereal place I have ever been to, which I’m sure anyone following my Wanderous Affair Instagram account can plainly see — I swear, 99% of the recent pictures on my feed are of the gorgeous town.
As declared proudly on a sign in front of one of six entrances to climb to the top of (or climb down from) the town walls, Conwy is home to “some of the best preserved Medieval walls in Europe!” Between each of the six access points, it’s said to take about ten minutes to walk; however, with my camera and the ShootR selfie stick I brought along with me, it took quite a bit longer to get from point to point. This was partly due to views that I couldn’t peel my eyes away from, and partly because I felt the story I have been conjuring up in my mind (as I mentioned in a previous post about ‘Big Magic’) come to life in an environment where it easily could be set. In fact, I even wrote a short flash fiction piece based off of the thoughts I had as my mind wandered, posted on the flash fiction blog I co-write with my friend: you can find it here. With this all said, it’s effortless to think about a time when these 1.3 km long stone walls, along with Conwy castle, was built by Edward I between 1283 and 1287. I imagined what life was like for the invading English people who lived within the walls, and for the Welsh folk who inhabited the rolling and vibrantly green fields beyond them. Despite the rain — admittedly too much to have kept my camera exposed to for so long — I took about a hundred photos while on the walls. Here are some of my favourites (click to expand):
With the weather in Wales being more rainy (as opposed to the snow I get back home in Toronto) between the autumn to spring months, the lush fields speckled with hundreds of sheep were an incredible, vibrant green. From the top of the walls, you could see the manicured grass sprawl for miles upon miles, and the moss that clung to the ancient stone walls also took on a bright green hue. It’s hard to imagine that Medieval soldiers once patrolled the walls fortified against intruders, maybe even shot at enemies from the narrow arrowslits along the path. In the moment, you become so enraptured with the loveliness of it all, as well as trying not to slip on the metal flooring that bridges some of spots along the wall while a large dog pulls you forward — especially when trying to make your way back down to ground level the narrow, metal spiral stairwell (I thought Rosie was going to take my friend flying down the steps along with her!).
Once we had our feet back firmly on the floor, the three of us walked around the town through the old streets, cameras out, and ready to explore. While walking back into town, we crossed a couple of old bridges stretched over the railway tracks, heading to the main strip of stores in search of fish and chips.
Once we got to the main strip on Rose Hill Road however, we found ourselves drawn to the signs of souvenirs shops and an indoor Christmas Market. We first stopped at a souvenir shop, also the main information building for the town (or so it seemed). Outside of it was an entire garden filled with fruits, vegetables, and herbs that anyone could take. Sad I didn’t have anything to dig out some herbs with and carry it around it, I just admired the different pots with all the different greenery in them. It’s such a cool idea to have such a public, communal garden for anyone to take as they need. As of this wasn’t nice enough, we then walked a few paces to the indoor Christmas Market. It was extremely small by comparison to the other markets we had been to in the previous days, but there were quite a few handmade things, all at decent prices. For £2, I picked up a handmade wooden sign in the shape of a star with a reindeer painted overtop the words “Happy New Year” written in Welsh. I currently have it hanging on the doorknob of my bedroom at home. 🙂
Oh right, I’m hungry. Yeah, yeah, we wanted fish and chips. At this point, I was only a few days away from having to head back home to Canada, and I had yet to eat proper fish and chips anywhere in the United Kingdom. My friends decided that Wales was just the place, particularly because it’s a coastal town where presumably, the fish would be fresh and extra tasty. We found the perfect place on 12-14 Bangor Road called The Archway. Even with a slightly grumpy cashier taking our order, the absolutely to-die-for fish and chips more than made up for that. They had a variety of different sauces to accompany your meal; I went for both a garlic mayo and a spicy aioli of sorts, as well as a bit of ketchup for my chips in case I ran out of the others. With Rosie leaping and barking all over the place, we walked back to the car, which was parked in front of the Conwy Railway Station, and ate our lunch in there with steaming up windows and one fox red lab eyeing the remnants of greasy batter, chips, and sauces left over in our near-empty styrofoam takeaway containers.
With lunch finished up, leaving three humans and one pup thoroughly satisfied, we headed west on Rose Hill Street to walk around the outskirts of Conwy Castle. I had never seen a Medieval castle in my life, so having had the opportunity to see one, and so closely, left me momentarily speechless. It looked like something out of a fairytale, of Arthurian legend, of Game of Thrones even. It seemed so unreal that a structure so old could be in such amazing shape after all these hundreds of years of wear and tear, and with so many lives passing in and out of its walls. Along one side of the castle, facing the way we entered into Conwy, the Conwy Castle suspension bridge is connected to the castle. Opened in 1826 and one of the first road suspension bridges in the world, it unfortunately is now only passable on foot and only with paid admittance, it seems, to the castle (which we didn’t have time to go through; this just means that I’ll have to travel back ASAP to see the interior and to walk the suspension bridge). I did get some photos of it through the fence, which I’ve included amongst some shots of the town below:
Seeing this towering castle was the last destination of us in the town and, with it being the most magnificent, was the perfect grand finale.
In spite of the rain (and the fog and mist that it brought along with it to settle over the castle’s looming presence in Conwy), this UK town was beyond anything I could have imagined. In all honesty, I had never really felt a strong desire to go to Wales; rather, it was a place I once said that I’d be happy to go to if ever in England, only if I had extra time. Having been there now, I would gladly make a trip to the UK solely to visit Wales, staying days to exploring this lovely country, seeing its magical sites, enjoying the rolling green hills, and deciphering the seemingly impossible Welsh language while doing so.
Have you ever been to Wales? Where is your favourite Welsh town? Or your favourite Medieval town? Let me know in the comments!