Great Orme Neolithic Mines
A discovery on the Great Orme in 1987 rocked the world, and sent historians reeling. What they discovered was copper mining on an unprecedented scale: a mine bigger than any other discovered in the world so far. A mine from which copper was exported all over Europe, and people from all over Europe, even as far as Spain and Morocco, had come to the site to mine or trade.
The mines are colossal. The surface only shows a roughly hewn hole in the ground - little that might spark the imagination. But below the surface the mines go down deep - incredibly deep. It's the equivalent of a 10 or 15 storey building buried right into the ground below your feet. You can explore a couple of levels down, and this will leave you wondering how anyone, let alone people thousands of years before modern drilling and safety equipment, could have dug so much from so far down in the earth.
They pulled around 200 tons of copper from the earth, with nothing but primitive tools. It started off as groups of private individuals cutting a little from the easily reached material near the surface, but as the copper grew in value, and became harder to reach, the miners were organised into massive teams. When it got a hundred feet below the earth, some miners found it was too inefficient to return to the surface, and so just lived down there. The mine tunnels are quite claustrophobic, and some are so small only a child could have dug them.
The mines are a great experience, and they even have their own resident historian. Don't overlook the old guy sitting by the hat collection point - he's a mine of information (sorry for the pun). He's more than happy to answer your questions on the mines, and you are sure to have many when you see what these people achieved.
A hugely important region long before Llandudno became a famous tourist resort, the Great Orme has been active in human history for thousands of years. From early neolithic copper miners, through 13th century Bishoprics, the Great Orme has been making its mark. The town of Llandudno is a late comer and young usurper.
The Great Orme is a spit of rock shot through with valuable minerals that juts out into the Irish sea north of Llandudno. It's high enough to offer views all the way to Anglesey and the Menai Straits. Even in not so perfect weather you can make out such landmarks as Puffin Island. The rock is a nature reserve topped by a small observation area, and encircled by the Marine Drive.
If you have time you should go both up and around the rock, but you should do at least one.
Llandudno thrusts its azure blue pier head over 2000 feet into the sea, making it the longest in Wales. The pier draws all the Gothic gaudiness of 19th century India, as if its architects came back from Mysore Palace and said "let's build that - in the sea." It probably looked quite exotic in Victorian times.
A walk down the pier is a must, though. The pier is quite photogenic, and the views of Llandudno are spectacular. If you can put up with the Roger Miller soundtrack, the candy floss and kiss me quick hats, and the acres of wrinkled, sunburned skin, you'll get to enjoy possibly the best views in the town, all backed by a cool breeze and the smell of greasy sausages.
Top Notch Art Gallery
This is a contemporary art gallery, with an ever changing collection. I love the big open spaces and Its massive blocks of woodgrain looking concrete which makes me think I am the Southbank Centre in London and not some sleepy little Welsh town.
I bought some contemporary pieces of jewelry in the gift shop made by artisans in the UK. Yes and I also skimmed through the small collection of art books and magazines for half an hour without buying a thing!
The gallery hosts many temporary exhibitions, featuring numerous contemporary modern art.
I saw the flip flop and petrol can sculptures of Romuald Hazoumé. He also uses striking motifs in his paintings with natural earth pigments, oils and acrylic paints which are reminiscent of the Yourba culture he grew up with in Africa. His themes are from a very different culture I know little about, and it was the 'not knowing' that most intrigued me. I can look at work like this and just get pleasure from the seeing. Yikes I am so intellectual today, I need a coffee.
Brill Cafe on top floor with daily menu, cappochinios and free wifi to contemplate the hard work of studying modern art.
History moment you may want to skip, Lady August Mostyn originally founded the gallery to house her personal art collection (which is hopefully hidden away in the basement).
- Arts and Culture
- Women's Travel
Victorian Extravaganza in May
Go on, you know you want to dress up like a Victorian! Its fancy dress for 3 days every May.
Re-live the days of old in Llandudno's gorgeous Victorian sea-side town. Steam traction engines, horse drawn carriages, Victorian fun fair, tea dances, live music and bands, parade, magic & puppet shows, vintage car show... and Grand Victorian Ball.
Even the crazy locals wear Victorian clothes ... so go on enjoy it.
The whole high street is sealed off to traffic, so plan where to park well in advance.
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
I love looking at Old Stuff in Llandudno Museum
I love old things almost as much as beaches.
This museum is brimming with stuff and I spent a happy 3 hours here, looking at images of a very different time. In fact way before we all had laptops and tablets.
One exhibit is a 14,000 year old artwork, possibly the earliest in Wales, I can hardly get my head around that time span. Its on loan from the British Museum and of international interest due to its date.
At Easter when I visited there was a display of textiles, one showing a black dress once worn by Queen Victoria. Was she really only 4ft 7"? There was also an interactive display of ladies bustles that you could have fun trying on. I smirked at a plasma screen display asking us to consider how every generation has suffered to be fashionable, whether its ruffs, cod pieces, ladies underwear or nipple studs.
As an artist, I particularly liked the exhibits of Frances Chardon located up stairs, including his artworks and sketchbooks.
If you go expecting so see a mini version of the British Museum with all its lottery funding you will be disappointed. This is lovely small museum with limited funding, but it is run to a high standard with great care taken over its many rooms of exhibits by the curator and his team of volunteers. And guess what? Its only 2 GBP to get in.Bargain of the week!
From Easter, Tuesday - Sunday, 10.30am-1pm, 2-5pm; winter Tuesday - Saturday, 1.30-4.30pm.
- Museum Visits
How to dance in Happy Valley
Take a picnic and include your iPad or other music device.
Lay out picnic, turn up the volume to a dance tune.
Pick a partner and dance!
The old quarry was given to the town by Lord Mostyn to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The gardens have been restored as part of the millennium celebrations and are a relaxing place to wander with a picnic, or sit and sunbathe, or dance to your ipad.
- Road Trip
- Hiking and Walking
I Mooched around the Great Orme
The Great Orme Country Park is much visited, and the geology, wildlife, archaeology and landscape of the Great Orme (Pen-y-Gogarth) is of such importance that much of the headland has been designated a Special Area of Conservation, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Heritage Coast. There are several car parks and miles of public footpaths to explore.
The Marine Drive is a four mile scenic drive round the base of the Great Orme headland, from Llandudno's North Shore to Llandudno's West Shore. It is a toll road, but the charge is only £2.50 per car and that includes parking on the Orme, including at the summit.
Beware if the constantly growing herd of over 150 Kashmiri Goats grazing at the side of the Marine Drive.
About half the Great Orme is farmland. The Great Orme is reported as the northernmost known habitat for several ‘southern’ species of spider including Segestria bavarica. The cliffs are host to colonies of Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Razorbills as well as Gulls, and also Peregrine Falcons, Ravens and Little Owls.
Endangered! There are several endangered species of butterflies including the Silky Wave, the Grayling and the Silver-studded Blue. Bet you didnt know that!
- Hiking and Walking
Yes Im a beach addict!
'North Shore is not an exciting name for a beautiful stretch of coast near the main shopping district! It is a moon crescent of sand, pebbles and ocean. When I was there last I wandered the beaches, sunbathing, sketching, staring as usual and watched a land artist building a sculpture on the beach.
I often take my neice to the paddling pool and a cafe which is open in the summer near the Little Orme, at Craig-y-do. Stacks of places to visit in between, especially the North Wales Theatre with interesting things going on.
My favorite is theVictorian pier near the Grand Hotel and Great Orme walks with its parade of shops. A Cafe bar at the end of the pier and innocent games in the amusement arcade and mini fun fair. Punch and Judy shows and town bands in the summer. Catch a tour buses for a trio around the Orme in those old Leyland coaches with shiny bumpers.
A long walk on the beach more than makes up for eating guest house Full English breakfasts, doughnuts and pink candyfloss on the pier.
- Sailing and Boating
- Water Sports
Another way up the Great Orme is the Cable Car. This one requires you are made of slightly sterner stuff than the test offered by the tramway. It's the longest cable car system in Britain, and at its highest point reaches over a hundred feet above the ground. The real thrill is the winds that batter the little cars as they crawl up the hillside. They can really swing, even in a mild wind.
It's totally safe, though. Only 1 death in a hundred years, and that was a suicide. The cable car seems to get shut down at the slightest hint of a breeze, so the battering you get will be within safe limits. Not that you'll care to know this if you suffer vertigo and you see the ground from the side window.
What would a trip to the seaside be without a stroll along the promenade? You'll be joined by throngs of similar minded tourists, and be observed by the cold, ruthless eyes of a thousand hungry seagulls. They wait for any opportunity to snatch badly needed calories from your hand or mouth. They'll even try and get food out of your bag. They have no fear.
The sea breeze is pleasant, and the views are easy on the eye. It's particularly nice late on hot summer nights, when the crowds have gone home, and the retirees are tucked up in bed. The promenade is peaceful then, and the soft light of the street lamps and hotel rooms filters onto the sea and makes it sparkle.
THE GREAT ORME
The great orme in llandudno, you can walk up, catch a tram or drive, its so lovely up there and the views are fantastic, there are mines you can go in, cafes, theres a big park at the top for the kids and on the other side there is a ski slope and tobogin and a log cabin to have a meal and drink in, well worth a visit especialy in summer.
On the western side of the Great Orme well below the Marine Drive and at the end of Llys Helig are the remains, from the 1939-45 war, of the Artillary School that was moved from Shoeburyness on the Essex coast in 1940. Llys Helig is noted for its very large, modern, and distinctive houses and bungalows seen in the following photograph from the marine drive. In the distance is the River Conwy.
you can visit the mines phone no below
- Skiing and Boarding
- Hiking and Walking
Great Orme Tramway
There are several ways up to the top of Great Orme, ranging in severity from the gruelling walk to the serene old Tramway. It's a fine, if not exactly cheap, method of cresting the great rock. It snakes up the narrow roads from the town, eventually escaping the cloying bricks and mortar, and trundling onto the wind-blown green expanses that top the rock.
It costs the same for a return as a single, so don't get any ideas of a half-price trip to the top and then walking down. The same goes for the aerial tramway, so you can't combine one with the other, annoyingly. The trams run every 20 minutes from 10am to 6pm in the summer. We had all kinds of problems with the schedule, eventually walking half way up (the difficult half) and taking the tram (for free) from the halfway station.
Don't try walking unless you are fit!
Just a 10 minute car ride away from Llandudno is Conwy Castle. One of the greatest fortresses of medieval Europe. It could take a whole morning to visit, its so big. The Great Hall alone is 125ft long.
The views from the battlements are breathtaking, look out across mountains in one direction and and sea in the other. From the battlements you can appreciate Conwy's other glory, its ring of impressive granite town walls.
Conwy is the classic walled town. Its circuit of walls, over three quarters of a mile long and guarded by no less than 22 towers, is one of the finest in the World. The walls are remarkable for their state of preservation, forming almost a complete circuit around the town. Only a small section near the quay is inaccessible, and even here, the ruins of the wall have been incorporated into the existing buildings. The walls are flanked by twenty-one towers and three double tower gateways, a constant reminder of the mighty castle looming in the distance.
This is one of Edward I's best preserved castles he built to keep the Welsh out of Wales!
Admission: Adults £4.60, Reduced rate £4.10. Family Ticket:- £13.30 - admits 2 adults and up to 3 children under 16 years.
Reviving cafe's and bars in the tiny town of Conwy, as well as some nice foodie shops, or take a pleasant drink in one of the harbour bars overlooking the marina.
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
From Llandudno pier try one of the bus tours.
1. Around Llandudno town, (via West Shore and Deganwy) to Conwy. This is a hop on hop off tour with a lively commentary, about the landmarks and historic sites along the way, and well worth 5 GBP. You can use your ticket for 24 hours.
2. Circular trip around the Great Orme
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