Conwy Castle

After so many days in the truck, without a toaster, my technique for dry-frying the bread to create toast had plenty of practice and was getting quite good. We scoffed down a boring breakfast, before driving away from Tyddyn Isaf on Anglesey, but not before we made a detour to see Benllech beach, reputedly the nicest beach on Anglesey.

Benllech Beach Panorama

It’s quite unfair to judge UK beaches with Australian eyes, nothing we saw comes close to being as nice as our worst beach, yet Benllech was a lovey spot if you can overlook all the locals walking on the beach in shoes and zipped up raincoats. This beach has actual sand, as well as a section for dogs to run free. There are so many dogs in this part of the world, it really is dog heaven, they come to the pub with their owners, sleeping all over the floor, and everywhere is set up for them. Very welcoming.

The kids declared that the water was cold, and we continued our drive onwards. We discovered a lookout to see the Menai Bridge from another angle, as well as an excellent view of the Stephenson bridge. The original iron box bridge suffered a nasty fire in the 1970s (killing several people) and was rebuilt as a double storey bridge with vehicle traffic on top, and trains on the original rails, but without the tunnel of the original bridge.

The drive to Conwy from the edge of Anglesey went quickly, although our truck struggled in the strong coastal wind that blew across the highway. A confusing intersection at the end of the highway meant we took a short detour through a small town, before finding our way to Conwy itself. The marketing brochures underestimate the impact of the arrival into Conwy. I expected yet another boring castle, yet the town is ringed by huge stone walls.

We ate lunch in the township at a lovely place called Time Café, with huge delicious meals, slightly different from the usual pub fare, although they came with the obligatory bad English coffee. We’ve basically given on good coffee and just accept their standard rubbish, which rates on the same scale as instant.

Before we entered the castle, we walked to see the Telford suspension bridge, and were pleasantly excited to note that not only was there a cast iron suspension bridge, but right next door was the original Stephenson designed tubular train bridge. Telford’s bridge is anchored into the castle walls, not something an engineer in the current century would be allowed to do, but in 1812-ish, it is a practical solution to the lack of space.

Stephenson’s bridge is ugly – function over form but with a good attempt at being sympathetic to the castle neighbouring it with the abutments created with castle-y looking stonework. This sympathy to history is seen again when the railway passes through the city walls. The wall has had an archway bashed through, but the original wall has been replaced back over the archway to keep the continuity.

Looking down on me from the top of the castle tower

Conwy Castle is an exercise in freaking out parents. The ruins include many holes where a fall to certain death is easy to achieve, with occasional ineffective railings across some of the gaps. The children’s self-confidence came across as insane bravery as they clambered to the top of the castle towers with nothing to stop a mis-step resulting in catastrophe.

After exploring the castle – and with no roof, and mostly just ruins, it doesn’t take very long to have seen every rock – we ventured along the town walls to the guards tower at the far end. Standing at least twelve feet above the ground, it is a solid walk along the walls before you climb the tower to peer over the township. On the sea-side wall, many of the shops are built into the wall.

My heartbeat eventually slowed to normal pace when they had finished viewing the various sections of the castle and walls, and we all required a restorative ice cream.

From here we drove to Chester and the Netherwood Manor campsite. A lovely small campsite with only ten other motorhomes, we soon made ourselves notorious by getting our truck stuck in the slippery clay-mud. Nothing would shift it, not even the entire population of the campsite pushing, and with dark and drizzle setting in, we gave up for the night. The campsite backed onto the Chester canal, and we walked along the edge of the canal in the rain to the Cheshire Cat for a lovely dinner.

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