The second half of my visit to Wales began with a long drive from the Swansea Marriott to Caernarfon. (For the first part see Castles of Wales - Part 1 (Southern Wales)). Not too far north of Swansea, the motorway ends. In spots there are double carriageways, what we call divided highways in the USA, but for the most part the journey is on two lane roads. It took most of the day to make the trip and we arrived in Caernarfon late afternoon, but early enough to visit the castle.
From atop the castle walls, the view across the Menai Strait and the island of Anglesey is pretty amazing. Check out the walls that still enclose most of the town.
With no Marriotts in this part of the country, we stayed at a B&B on the north end of town. Though there are a couple of chain hotels (Travelodge and Premier Inn), this was a good opportunity to try some different types of accommodations. The results were quite satisfactory. The next morning, it was on to Anglesey to visit several more stone age monuments. Not all are just stones out in the middle of some field. At Bryn Celli Ddu, a 5,000 year old burial mound, you can actually walk inside (I did). Like Stonehenge, or Newgrange in Ireland, this location is aligned so that the rising sun on the summer solstice will shine down through the opening and in to the inner chamber.
After exploring most of the island, it was time for lunch and another castle visit. Up next was Beaumaris Castle. The castle overlooks the northern end of the Menai Strait and is another of Edward I's castles built as part of his plan to conquer north Wales. Though never completed, most of it still stands 700 years after it was constructed. When most people think of castles, this is what they imagine. Stone walls, round towers, and most of course, a moat.
After leaving Anglesey by crossing the Menai Suspension Bridge (built 1826), it was on the the seaside resort of Llandudno (pronunciation: Clan-did-no). Advice to travelers in Wales, don't bother trying to pronounce the town names. You'll just get tongue-tied. Llandudno is reminiscent of Brighton with its Victorian era houses (many now B&Bs) and seaside pier. No Marriotts, but plenty of nice places to stay and great pubs for dinner and a pint.
The final day included one last castle stop. This time it was Conwy. Unlike Beaumaris or Caernarfon, this castle was completed and figures prominently into the military history of north Wales. The towers are impressive and the view from atop the walls no less so.
After Conwy, the trip through Wales was done. Back to England for an overnight in Manchester and then the flights home. As Manchester is home to Insider extraordinaire, brightlybob, a mini-meetup was essential. At Bbob's suggestion, the Marriott location for the final night stay was the Worsley Park hotel and country club. I refer you to Happy TIPPLEversary for details of the visit to Worsley Old Hall and the Insider meetup.
A trip through Wales that includes the castles in both the north and south is rather ambitious. I would probably advise anyone interested to do one part or the other. The drive between north and south will take most of a day, and unless you are like me, and enjoy a driving holiday (vacation), the time might be better spent exploring one end of the country at a time.
I can't even count the number of castles I didn't visit. Places like Harlech, Rhuddlan, Flint, and many more. They really are almost everywhere.