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North Wales Itinerary

My sister and I (both in our early thirties) will be spending 3 weeks in Europe this MAY doing a lot of Rick Steve's 3-week road trip. We will be travelling by car. We have never been to Great Britain before. I'm having a tough time figuring out how to plan 2 days of it. We will start the morning by leaving Chipping Campden travelling towards North Wales to spend 2 nights in Conwy and tour the sights in North Wales. I know it is a bit of a drive, so not sure what we will have time to do the first day. Do we take the time to stop in Ironbridge Gorge? Do we have time to do any hiking? Do we take the Snowden Mountain Railway?
This is all I have so far:

Day 6 (Friday): Leave Chipping Campden....then what?

Day 7 (Saturday):

Day 8 (Sunday): Head to Lake District, sites of Lake district, etc..

For day 7, we could follow the rick steves' high lights of north wales: Bodnant Garden, pop into woolen mills, lunch in Llandberis, then tour Welsh Slate Museum, then drive to Caernarfon, catch the 16:00 castle tour, browse town of Caernarfon, drive back to Conwy and take self-guided town walk.
Any tips, ideas, words of wisdom? I just don't know how long it takes to get around the area, how long the different sites take to view, etc. which makes it hard to plan.

Thank you!

Posted by
1838 posts

I have never been to Ironbridge - so you could route yourselves that way and then continue towards Shrewsbury & then follow the A5 into Wales via Llangollen and A470 from Betws-Y-Coed. I will now suggest an alternative route that takes in some interesting places:>
Leave Chipping Campden & join A44 going towards Evesham - which you loop around on the by-pass. Then B4084 towards Pershore

& pass south of Worcester to rejoin A44 going towards Bromyard. (It is very bendy). As you approach Bromyard, look out for signs directing you R to LOWER BROCKHAMPTON HALL. It is a bit of a drive but at the bottom of the hill you will find the Hall. (Everything you expected Ye Olde England to be).http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brockhampton-estate/

Return to A44 & continue W to join A49 heading N. Do not take Ludlow by-pass but drive into this small town and take a look around.
http://www.ludlow.org.uk

Now back onto A49 going N (towards Shrewsbury). About 10 minutes up the road is this:> http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stokesay-castle/

If you are running late - stay on A49 heading for Shrewsbury & then A5 going NW into Wales via Llangollen (as before). However, if you have time, you may wish to fork left just N of Craven Arms & follow A489 to Church Stoke & then A490 towards Welshpool in order to visit Powis Castle. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/powis-castle/

On leaving Powis Castle - take A483 towards Oswestry / Chirk for A5 into Wales via Llangollen (as before).

If you arrive in the Conway area early (unlikely), you could do Bodnant Gardens as it is just off your route. Otherwise - do it on the Saturday. (It is at its best in May - don't miss the Laburnum tunnel - which too the left of the entrance & will be in full bloom in May).

You really have not given yourselves enough time to 'do' north Wales. In addition to Bodnant, I would prioritise driving back to Betws-Y-Coed & then A5 to Capel Curig > A4086 > via Beddgelert & A4085 via Garreg to PORTMEIRION.http://www.portmeirion-village.com
Alternatively, if the weather is clear, you may wish to prioritise going to Llanberis and up Snowdon via the mountain railway. You can then add Caernarvon Castle to the Saturday trip before returning to Conway.
http://www.greatorme.org.uk
You might wish to fly on this zip-wire:> http://www.zipworld.co.uk

PS> When going from Conway to the Lake District, Chester is worth a look.http://www.visitchester.com

Posted by
268 posts

Last year we left Startford Upon Avon and drove to Blaenau Ffestinog where we toured the slate mine. We stayed in Beddgelert. The next day we drove to Mt. Snowdon where we took the railway to the top, I don't think we had the time for hiking up. We spent the rest of the day and that night in Caernarfon and drove the next day to Keswick. These were full days, but not rushed. We particularly enjoyed Beddgelert and the surrounding area.

The year bfore last we drove from Bath to Conwy, spent the day in Conwy and the evening and night in Llandudno. That was enjoyable, but I liked the Beddgelert/Caernarfon trip more. Your idea might work also, I think Caernarfon to Conwy would only take you about a half-hour.

If you do stop at Snowdon, it's worth a short stop at Dolbadarn Castle, it's a short walk from the road; on the way from the Snowdon railway to the slate museum.

I'd skip Betws-y-Coed and its environs, I found it way too crowded, there's nowhere to park, and many of the drivers are tourists even less skilled at driving on the other side of the road than I am (but I did discover that Tom's of Maine toothpaste makes a good substitute for automotive rubbing compound...)

Posted by
135 posts

Hello ilisa

What week in May will you be in North Wales? Reason I ask is that w/c 25 May is both a Bank Holiday Monday in England and Wales (so lots of people have the day off work) AND that is the spring half-term holiday for many schools - consequently the roads will be busier than normal. They may not be packed, particularly if the weather is not great, but you need to factor in that getting around on Day 7 may be slower than you'd like. All the roads in North Wales are relatively narrow, with few overtaking spots (excepting the coastal A55), so if you make 35 miles an hour you'll be lucky.

Also, you may be trying to do too much on Day 7 anyway - a trip in the train up and back down Snowdon will take you at least 3 hours and that's assuming you can book in advance onto an early trip; a decent visit to the Slate Museum or Caernarfon Castle will each take at least 60 to 90 minutes; and so on. I'd recommend really focusing in on a smaller number of 'must see's', and then consider your routing and time spent driving.

Posted by
40 posts

Thank you for the additional tips/information. We won't be in North Wales over the bank holiday....we will be near Hadrian's wall then. Fun times ahead!

Posted by
742 posts

if you are heading to hadrians wall, consider going over Hartside Pass and the valley of the south Tyne rather than M6. Alston is a nice break stop anyhow