Ilkeston Cam On Holiday In North Wales 2000

Part Five - Caernarfon and Blaenau Ffestiniog

Princes And A Statesman
Like its two near neighbours Conwy and Harlech, Caernarfon, a town standing at the mouth of the Seiont river, has been classified as a World Heritage Site.

It has a long history and the town is still surrounded by thirteenth century walls and arches that provide a multitude of photographic opportunities. It is perhaps more well known though for the magnificent castle that stands by the busy quay side.

It was here that Prince Charles was invested as Prince of Wales in 1969 following in the footsteps of the future Edward VIII who was also invested there in 1911. Before that, my normally reliable sources proffer confusing and contradictory information.

Moorland Publishing's "Guide to North Wales" states Edward II was invested as the first Prince Of Wales after his birth there in 1284 but the Snowdonia Tourist Guide advises that Llywelyn ap Gruffydd became Prince of Wales in 1267. I suppose it depends on whether your allegiance lies with England or the Principality. Ya pays ya money 'n takes ya choice!

There is surely no argument though about the man regarded by many as "The greatest British Statesman of the twentieth century" - David Lloyd George. A monument (see right) in his honour stands just outside the famous castle (below) and that Snowdonia Guide lists just four of his achievements. He gave us the pension, founded the Welfare State, won the Great War and gave women the vote. No wonder Caernarfon is a World Heritage Site.

Snowdonia's Slate City
Once excluded from the National Park because it was considered to be a blot on the landscape, Blaenau Ffestiniog is now a popular tourist centre making the most of its heritage right in the heart of Snowdonia. Home to a thriving slate quarrying industry not so many years ago, the town is still dwarfed on all sides by reminders of bygone days.
But this is no longer a dirty, industrial area although it is still possible to tour the old slate quarries and visit museums to learn of its history.
The dust has now settled but there are reminders of slate everywhere. From the tiles on the cottages to the shops and visitor centres selling slate souvenirs to the many visitors, the town to its credit, has come out of the dark ages and is truly an integral part of the National Park. Another attraction for the tourist is the Ffestiniog Railway - one of the "Great Little Trains Of Wales" - on which steam engines pull carriages over thirteen miles through the spectacular scenery to Porthmadog.

Just a few miles from Blaenau Ffestiniog is the village of Tan-y-Grisiau (left) and here too, slate roofs are prominent in the architecture. There is also another Visitor's Centre, this one at the Stwlan Dam. For the more energetic - there are over 300 steps to negotiate - tours of the first major pumped storage/hydro electric power station in the UK (below left) may be undertaken. The less energetic can just admire the scenery (below right) typical of this part of Wales.

Continued in Part 6 - Bodelwyddan & Rhos-On-Sea

Other parts in this series:
1- Llandudno & Llanrwst; 2 - Betwys-y-Coed; 3 - Bangor; 4 - Llyn Ogwen & Llanfair;
7 Conwy Bridges & Smallest House;
8 - Conwy Quay & Town;
9 - The Great Orme & 10 - Llandudno Town.

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