There’s no need for rain to stop play in North Wales – there are plenty of brilliant places to visit whilst the clouds blow over.
Whether you’re staying on Anglesey, the Lleyn or in Snowdonia, here are our top tips on where to head when the heavens open.
You’ll find the Sea Zoo on the shore of the Menai Strait looking out across the water to Caernarfon Castle and the mountains of Snowdonia. It’s a great weather-proof day out, where friendly biologists will teach you about the scores of species that are native to the North Wales coast. You can watch feeding times, diving displays, fish for your own pearl oyster or even go on a sea safari! Great for helping adventurous little minds to learn about what they find in rockpools. There’s a café, and if the weather clears a giant octopus bouncy castle, a pirate’s playground, gator swamp boats and Captain Jake’s crazy golf outside.
The atmospheric Gothic courthouse, which you’ll find opposite Beaumaris Castle in the centre of the town, is open to visitors from April to October. Built in 1614 it has an original hammer-beam roof which must have hung heavy over prisoners as they stood in the dock awaiting their fate. Over at the Victorian gaol you get a reminder of the harsh treatment of prisoners in the 1800s. Its tread wheel, designed for hard-labour prisoners, is the only one in Britain still in place. A nursery above the women's workroom has a slit in the floor through which mothers could, by pulling a rope, rock their babies' cradles without stopping working. The dimly lit corridors and spartan punishment cells will run a chill down your spine.
Man has been extracting metal from the rocks here for a very long time – there’s evidence to suggest it was an important mining site as long ago as the Bronze Age. The Copper Kingdom visitors centre tells the story of how copper has shaped the lives of people of Anglesey – and how it made a few of them very rich indeed.
In the centre of the island, near Llangefni, this soft play centre is perfect for letting of a little bit of steam. There’s an action-packed jungle play experience for older children with slides, ball pools, crawl tubes, rope nets, bridges and much, much more. Toddlers can enjoy a small, designated softplay area. There’s a cafe area for parents to relax in whilst keeping an eye on the children.
The Oriel Ynys Mon is a fascinating museum and gallery which showcases the best of Anglesey’s art, history, culture and wildlife. It’s a pleasure to visit for adults and children alike. The gallery is a leading venue for renowned Anglesey artists like Kyffin Williams and Charles Tunnicliffe (you might recognise his work from the charming Ladybird books he illustrated). There’s a changing programme of exhibitions as well as a social history and archaeology gallery. You’ll also find a rather lovely cafe and gift shop.
Exotic butterflies, quizzical meerkats, giant bugs, slithering snakes, chameleons, rabbits, guinea pigs, singing parrots (he’s called Elvis) and pygmy goats. You’ll find all creatures great and small at the Pili Palas. If the sun comes out there is an outdoor adventure playground and giant bouncy castle. Hours of family fun.
Plas Newydd is an elegantly imposing mansion set on the shores of the Menai Strait. It’s owned and managed by the National Trust. Parts of the house date from the 14th century, though the house has been styled with a 1930s interior and is famous for its Rex Whistler mural and exhibition. Plas Newydd is the seat of the Marquesses of Anglesey and it houses a fascinating military museum with relics from the First Marquess of Anglesey’s military career. He was one of the finest cavalrymen of his generation, and fought alongside Wellington. Look out for the articulated wooden leg which replaced the Marquess’s right leg after it was blown to smithereens on the battlefield at Waterloo.
This fascinating museum at Llanystumdwy, just outside of Criccieth, tells the story of one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th century. The museum brings to life Lloyd George’s childhood with a unique display of objects, a film about his life, astonishing 'talking head' speeches, a Victorian schoolroom and library. The Victorian cottage garden is a pleasure to walk around and Lloyd George’s riverside grave is just a short walk away. An enriching and absorbing day out.
This is a magnificent Grade II listed Victorian gothic manor house which was built for to house the art collection of the widow Lady Elizabeth Love Jones Parry in the 1850s. It is now, appropriately, a thriving arts centre and features an ever-changing programme of exhibitions, concerts and performances - some of which take place at the open air theatre in the ‘Lost Forest’ grounds. The house has a captivating atmosphere. Look out for the magnificent Jacobean staircase and hammer beam roof and galleries as well as Lady Elizabeth’s ghost which is said to sometimes walk the upper landings. An excellent tearoom features locally sourced home cooked food as well as wonderfully uplifting views to Snowdonia and Cardigan Bay.
Nominated by BBC Good Food Magazine as the UK’s No. 1 farm shop in 2014, the excellent Bodnant Welsh Food Centre is a wonderful place to stock up your holiday larder and while away a couple of foodie hours. The farm shop features a wealth of local produce from in-house and artisan producers as well as locally-reared meat, delicious cheeses, dairy products, fruit and veg, honeys, breads, ciders and beer. At the Bodnant Wine Cellar the knowledgeable staff will help you find the perfect wine to accompany your food. Book in for a long lunch at the Hayloft Restaurant or a leisurely afternoon tea at the Furnace Tearoom and wait for the clouds to pass.
Bounce Below is a unique underground playground set within an historic disused slate cavern which is just about twice the size of St Paul’s cathedral.Your journey to the centre of the earth (well, actually just 100ft underground) starts with a short train ride which will take you down to the belly of the cavern. Once you’re off get ready to bounce on what will almost certainly be the biggest trampoline nets you have ever seen.
The nets are strung at different levels within two vast chambers, linked together by walkways and a succession of tubular slides. The caverns are lit by an LED light show; expect much delighted squealing as you bounce around this crazy rainbow coloured adventure. You need to be aged 7 or over to take part, and all bouncers must wear a jumpsuit and helmet which are provided for you.
Who can resist the romance and excitement of a day out on a steam railway? The Ffestiniog Railway is the oldest independent railway company in the world and its line runs for around 13.5 miles from the harbour at Porthmadog to the historic slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. It’s a stunning journey through beautiful Snowdonia landscapes, whatever the weather. The historic trains climb over 700 feet from sea level into the mountains, passing tranquil pastures and magnificent forests lakes and waterfalls on their way. You’ll pass through areas that are completely inaccessible by road, undisturbed by the sights and sounds of modern life. There’s an at-seat buffet service as well as a fully-licenced bar featuring locally-brewed award-winning beers. If the rain stops you might enjoy a wander around Blaenau (it’s a buzzing little mountain village) before you make your return journey. No one comes off the steam train without an enormous smile on their face. A magical experience whatever your age.
At Llechwedd Slate Caverns you get to experience life as it was for a Victorian mining family. Tours start with a ride on the UK’s steepest cable railway which will take you 100s of feet underground to explore the old mine workings. On your way you’ll hear tales of the miners’ family life – children as young as 12 would work down in these dark caverns. They helped make North Wales the slate-capital of the world in the 19th century.
The mighty colossus of Caernarfon Castle is the biggest of Edward I’s ‘iron ring’ fortresses in Wales and it still packs a powerful punch. The castle itself is likely to keep you enthralled for many hours, but keep some time aside to visit the excellent Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which is housed in the Queen’s Tower at the castle. It tells the fascinating story of Wales’ oldest infantry regiment and their role in Britain’s most famous military campaigns.
This museum, in the pretty mountain village of Llanberis, tells the story of the Welsh slate industry. And what a story it is. North Wales was once the slate capital of the world and people have been quarrying slate here for over 1,800 years. It’s a story that has shaped this landscape in many different ways.
This fascinating woollen mill has been owned by the same family since 1859. You can tour the working mill museum and see the machines which transforms raw Welsh wool into beautiful bedspreads, tapestries and tweeds. You can then buy some of these beautiful products in the Mill Shop.
Sister to the wonderful Ffestiniog Railway, but by no means in her shadow, the Welsh Highland Railway is the UK’s longest heritage railway. It runs 25 miles from its start next to the awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site of Caernarfon Castle. From there it steams forth into the foothills of Snowdonia passing lakes, forests and stunning mountain scenery. You’ll descend into the pretty mountain village of Beddgelert before swooping through the Beddgelert Forest and crossing the remarkable Aberglaslyn Pass. The journey ends at Porthmadog. The ride is an absolute joy – from the beautifully upholstered period carriages and first class Pullman luxury to the freshly-cooked food which you can have delivered to your seat. Come rain or shine, it’s a day out that’s guaranteed to generate big smiles.
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12 Victoria Terrace Nantlle, Snowdonia "Written by a guest 'From the mountain view from the back garden and the lake view from all the bedrooms, stylish decor and wood burning stove. FANTASTIC!'"
Sleeps : 6
£385 - £700 per week
Changeover day : Fri