When the train arrives in Conwy from Llandudno Junction it almost scrapes against the castle walls before passing through an archway in the city wall just before the platform. The railway cuts a deep groove through the town continuing along the North Wales Coast but there are many reasons to alight at this request stop.
A stroll around the well-preserved battlements offers views over snug rows of slate roof tops and the River Conwy where sails take the place of rooftops. The whole scene is dominated by the castle built by Edward I and still standing proud.
The castle is the most obvious tourist attraction and worth spending 2-3 hours to explore. You can lose yourself amongst the high walls and arched windows. Most of the towers and turrets can still be climbed offering even greater views of the town and surrounding countryside.
There is a friendly community feel to the place where any encounter be it in a park or shop can result in a cheery exchange. On one of the last really warm days of summer I ate lunch in a shady spot in the churchyard. “You won't get a sun tan sitting there,” remarked a passerby.
“I won’t get sunburn either,” I retorted.
Berry Street offers a nostalgic shopping experience. We were regular customers at the baker’s with a blue and white shop front where we bought huge, generously filled baps. Next door there was a sweet shop with its walls lined with shelves of jars and a window displaying everything from pop rocks to liquorice. A couple of doors down a greengrocer offered an inviting display of wares and the shopkeeper kept up a steady stream of conversation with each customer. Berry Street offers all the provisions needed for a famous five style adventure along the coastal path or Bodlondeb Woods.
I went to both on my first morning. It was bright and clear as I set off along the sturdy path running along the riverside towards the coast. After passing a small harbour I felt the sea air and the path turned to grass and sand as I walked alongside sandy and stony beaches. I spent an hour or two sat in a quiet spot reading, before turning back and entering the northern corner of the woods. I followed a steep winding path, glimpsing the river through the trees until I suddenly emerged in a well-kept park with mown lawns and flower beds and what appeared to be a stately home in the centre. I had in fact passed an entrance to it earlier but the gate house suggested it was private property. It was Bodlondeb Park and I wasn’t the only member of the public enjoying it. A voice hailed me from behind and I looked round to see a man with a wild beard on a nearby bench clutching a copy of the Mirror. “It’s lovely day,” he declared in case I hadn’t notice. “I’ve found a sun trap and I’m reading the paper,” he explained. I bid him good day and found a spot to enjoy the weather and another chapter of the novel I was reading.
The river front was the perfect spot to enjoy the final days of summer. The residents of a row of houses can enjoy the tranquil views right from their doorsteps, though the last on the row is now a tourist attraction as the smallest house in Great Britain. With a floor area of 3.05 by 1.8 metres and a height of 3.1 metres it seems built for a tiny resident though the last person to live there was a 6ft 3 fisherman in 1900.
|By Marcus Millett|
An ice cream stall offers a variety of flavours including salted caramel and sea buckthorn. On my first evening I ate fish and chips from another bygone era shop on Berry Street while a large seagull eyed me intently.
It takes about half an hour to explore Conwy’s attractions but the town’s allure lasts longer. With so many areas of interest to see nearby it is just as well the town doesn’t swallow you whole but waits patiently for your return, its solid wall extending round the narrow streets in a warm embrace.