After visiting Porthmadog we drove for about 10 mins to Criccieth Castle. This is a Welsh Built Castle standing on a headland between two great beaches. There are some really great views from the castle's ruined walls.
It was probably built by Llywelyn ap Iowerth who imprisoned his half brother Gruffydd there in 1239. The castles inner ward has two drum towers which date from 1230. The outer ward with it's rectangular towers dates from about 1290 when the castle having been captured by Edward I had it strenghthened making the inner gatehouse higher and refacing it's cistern tower.
In 1284 Edward I appointed William de Leyburn as constable with a garrison of thirty men. In 1343 it belonged to the Black Prince and the constable was Sir Hywel ap Gruffydd (Howell of the Battleaxe). The Castle was destroyed by Owain Glyndwr in 1404 and traces of the fire can still be seen in various places (particulary on the Leyburn Tower). The Castle has not been inhabited since and was given to the state in 1933 by Lord Harlech, It is now under the care of Cadw
Child (up to 16 yrs):£2.80
Note: Family tickets are available at £9.20 - Children under 5 free of charge
Walking along the promenade in Criccieth is a great way to stretch your legs, get some exercise and breath in that lovely sea air. There are fantastic views of the mountains in one direction and the Castle in the other. There is pay and display car parking right along the seafront which I'm sure gets really busy on hot sunny days although in Wales these are few and far between!!
Criccieth Castle is perched high on a headland commanding excellent views from all angles. It is said that on a clear day you can make out the form of Harlech Castle across the waters but unfortunately I was at Criccieth on a grey, windy day so I did not witness this.
The Castle was originally build by Llewelyn the Great around 1230 although there are doubts that this is indeed a Welsh Castle as the Gatehouse was built in English design. It is thought that Llewelyn was influenced by the architecture of Castles at Beeston and Montgomery. CADW (Welsh Historic Monuments) claim that the gatehouse towers do possess typical Welsh features, particularly their semi-circular plan. In fact, the D- shaped tower is characteristically Welsh, and can be found at many other Welsh castles, including Castell-y-Bere, Dinas Bran and Ewloe.
Edward I took control of the Castle in 1283 and carried out extensive renovation of the fortress, spending a considerable sum to add another tower to the wall of the inner ward (the Leyburn Tower), heighten the two gatehouse towers, and strengthen the Engine Tower. This last tower had an interesting function: it served as a foundation for the siege engine, or catapult.
Twenty three years later, Criccieth Castle was abruptly brought down, never again to be used as a stronghold, when Owain Glyndwr led the last major Welsh rebellion against the English.
Glyndwr's men tore down the stone walls and burned the castle. Today, remnants of the devastation may be spotted, not only the crumbled towers and curtain wall, but the fire-scarred rock as well.
The lifeboat station is run by the RNLI which stands for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. This is a voluntary organisation which is dependant on public donations and fundraising events for its' upkeep. For a small fee you can visit the lifeboat station which is open to visitors during summer months. You can see the lifeboats and equipment which are used on the sea rescues of today. The lifeboat station also has a small gift shop selling small RNLI related gifts.
Black Rock Sands, just along the coast (10 mins), has a huge expanse of sand which most visitors (including us eventually) take their cars onto. Lovely sand, a perfect beach for kids. A campsite is just behind the dunes (open Apr to Oct) and caves can be explored at one end.
Travel along the A497 Pwllheli road and you'll come to the resting place of David Lloyd George. He was Liberal Prime Minister from 1916 to 1922. He grew up in the village and was highly influenced by his shoemaker uncle (whose cottage you can visit). Across from the cottage is The Feathers pub (Welsh lamb on offer and nice beer garden) and along the same street is the Lloyd George museum. Turn right at the bridge over the Afon Dwyfor and not far along the river is his simple walled burial site. A walk along the river is recommended.
Wander to the mouth of the Afon Dwfor river along the stony beach. Look back to take in great views of the castle ,examine the rock pools, do a bit of bird watching, then, if feet are tired, return along the coastal path where views are a little restricted in places.
About 20 minutes drive away is Portmeirion. It is most famous as the location for the tv series 'The Prisoner' starring Patrick McGoohan. The resort is the creation of Clough Williams Ellis and you can find out all about his mad architectural vision on wikipedia and the official website.
Many of the buildings have rooms for rent and there is a hotel. The gardens and beach (with a mini lighthouse!) are lovely too.