Three Peaceful Gardens To Explore

Visit us in the Summer and you can discover a veritable cornucopia of gardens in full bloom.

Although England is perhaps more famed for its prettily manicured gardens, there are a number of country homes, both private and public, that are open during the summer to visitors right here in North Wales.

You don’t have to be an avid horticulturist to appreciate the hard work and artistry that has gone into transforming these greens spaces, many of which have been put under threat by either closure or the invasion of damaging foreign plants such as hog weed or Japanese knotweed.

Recently, researchers from nearby Swansea university have conducted a survey into the regenerative properties of knotweed and have reported that only through the correct application of herbicides at the right time of year can this herbaceous plant be properly tackled, something I’m sure many of the gardens on this list will know only too well – thankfully, Knotweed Help is on hand for those in need.

Take a look at our top picks of North Wale gardens (and make sure to report any sightings of suspicious looking plants to the staff there):

Bodnant Gardens

One of a handful of properties owned by the National Trust in Wales, this garden was founded in 1874 and cared for by no fewer than five generations of the McLaren family who maintain an active role in the care and development of the garden to this day. Over the course of over 140 years, the gardens are a perfect example of British garden culture featuring traditional English garden structures as well as terraces, influenced by the family’s travels overseas.

Where? Near Colwyn Bay, Conwy How much? Adults for £14.60, children for £6.60

Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens

The story of the Hidden Gardens at Plas Cadnant is an interesting one. Like many country estates, despite its beauty and heritage, the sheer size and scale of the grounds made it a huge challenge for a single owner to run, especially during the financial hardships of the post-war era.

Although the development of the gardens was begun in 1804, by 1928 the estate was split up and sold off to disparate owners. By 1996, however, the present owner decided to restore the estate and gardens that had brought the Victorians and Edwardians so much joy in the past.

Where? Menai Bridge, Isle of Anglesey How much? Adults for £7.50, children for £2.00 and families for £18.00

Nantclwyd-y-Dre

Don’t be distracted by the stunning 15th Century home at Nantclwyd-y-Dre, although it makes for an interesting visit it’s the gardens that are the main attraction here. Featuring a nuttery and rose pergola, this garden is perfect for any budding horticulturists who feel up to the task of spotting a few rare breeds. If your knowledge isn’t quite up to snuff then make sure to collar one of the attendants as many of the plants there have medicinal or herbal uses. With unique views over the nearby town of Ruthin and the castle, this is a must-visit if you’re in the area.

Where? Castle Street, Ruthin How much? Adults for £5.00, seniors for £4.00, children £4.00

Zip Your Way To Adventure!

Looking for an adventure in North Wales?

In the last decade or so, North Wales has undergone something of an outdoor pursuits revolution.

With acres and acres of gorgeous land to explore it’s no wonder that a number of stellar outdoor pursuits companies have risen to the challenge of creating exciting, new attractions that have been drawing in even more visitors into the area on a yearly basis. Whilst many of these activities are best enjoyed during North Wales’ balmy Summer, most of them are also open during the Winter and are still a total blast.

There’s plenty of fun activities to get up to when you visit North Wales, so if you’re looking to add a real dose of adventure to your next trip here then you can start by taking a look at our list right here:

Zip World Penrhyn Quarry

Book ahead to avoid disappoint at what is officially the fastest zip line in the world, as well as the  longest in Europe. The historic Penrhyn Quarry is the location for your 125mph hair-raising ride, but before that you’ll get a taste of what’s to come (as well as a full-safety demonstration) on the little zipper. If you’d rather just sit at the sidelines and watch then you can do so in the newly built Adventure Terminal.

Bounce Below

Run by the same smart folks at Zip World, Bounce Below is a truly unique experience, taking visitors deep underground into a former slate mine. Whilst the cavernous setting is impressive enough in itself (the space is big enough to hold 12 double-decker buses!), you’ll find a whole new way of appreciating it when you’re given free reign to bounce on six levels of trampoline-like netting that has been rigged up inside. Recently refurbished in 2016, there’s never been a better time to get bouncing!

Zip World Fforest

One of the more recent additions to the North Wales outdoor pursuits market required a £1.5 million investment and yet has left no discernible mark on the landscape. Buried in the heart of the Conwy Valley, to the casual observer there’s not much to see in these idyllic woodlands, look a little closer though and you’ll discover a baffling range of activities to get stuck into! Zipline from tree to tree on the Zip Safari, bounce metres above the ground on the Treetop Nets or take a ride on the newly completed Fforest Coaster.

Zip World Slate Caverns

Finally, explore the underground cavern of North Wales like never before. Unlike Bounce Below, this experience comes without a trampoline safety net – here, it’s all about using the exhilarating zipline system on an adventure that will take you anywhere between 3 and 4 hours to complete. You’ll cross rope-bridges, climb ladders and crawl through tunnels, as well as fly on 10 separate zip lines to reach your destination – making this a varied, yet rewarding journey for anyone who fancies a challenge.

See the Zip World site to check the individual age and safety restrictions for each of these attractions.

Legendary North Wales Restaurants

Treat yourself to a tasty meal whilst you’re here.

Part of the joys of going on holiday is not having to worry about what you’re going to eat.

Forget about that diet plan that you were sticking to, no need to worry about hunting down those elusive Britannia oven spares for your cooker and you can put all thoughts of meal plans behind you: you’re on holiday so why indulge in meal out at a legendary North Wales restaurant. With acres of fertile farmland and a rich history of keeping livestock, restaurants in North Wales often make the most of the access to local ingredients, so you’ll find that the food you’re eating has usually only travelled a few miles to get to your plate.

Book a table at one of these legendary restaurants before you make the journey to visit us:

Sosban and The Old Butchers

In a region famed for its rustic food, Sosban and The Old Butchers stands above many of its local competitors purely because of its cavalier approach to dining traditions and exclusive nature.

Opened by husband and wife team Stephen and Bethan Stevens, this fine-dining restaurant is only open for three evening services and one lunchtime a week. Since it was awarded a Michelin Star their books have been constantly rammed, so if you want to get a table at this 16-cover marvel you’ll need to be patient!

Where? Menai Bridge, Isle of Anglesey How much? £80 per head for dinner, £40 per head for lunch

The Bull

A little more affordable but no less in demand, The Bull has been run by owner David for over 30 years and has transformed from a humble pub to a well-established contemporary restaurant and hotel in that time. Championing local produce that is treated with a deft touch, the food that you’ll find at The Bull is a touch above the usual gastro-pub fare, although that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a few classics on the menu. You can choose to dine in their causal Coach restaurant or head up to the Loft where you’ll be treated to an award-winning fine dining menu.

Where? Beaumaris, Isle of Anglesey How much? Five courses in the Loft from £55 per person or mains in the Coach start from £12.75

Bron Eifion

Set within its own luxurious landscaped gardens, after a meal at Bron Eifion you might well be tempted to stay the night in one of their spectacular rooms. Winner of a AA Rosette, this hotel makes for a truly sumptuous stay but is also home to an excellent restaurant. Arrive on a Friday night to make the most of their special Grill night where you can pick up a 10 oz steak (fish and vegetarian options are also available) along with a glass of wine or bottle of beer for as little £14.95. During the week you can make a selection from their ever-changing menu of Welsh and British classics.

Where? Criccieth, Gwynedd How much? 3 courses for £30 during the week for dinner.

The Hand at Llanarmon

Buried in the Ceriog Valley, this Hotel, Spa and Restaurant might be a little hard to find but the excellent food served for breakfast, lunch and dinner is definitely worth the journey. Chef Grant Mulholland was awarded two AA Rosettes signifying the ‘culinary excellence’ that he has worked to achieve at The Hand and you only have to sample a taste of his cooking to appreciate the care that has gone into producing and preparing it.

Where? Ceiriog Valley, Llangollen How much? Pub classics from £14.50.

Luxury Romantic Stays for Couples

Are you looking to get away from it all with your partner?

Whilst North Wales might well be rife with opportunities for adventure (whether you’re looking to soar at over 100 mph through a quarry or race down a river on a raft) it’s also an ideal place for couples looking to cosy up for a few days.

The area is well known for its natural splendour, as well as its large tracts of unbroken countryside. Look a little closer amongst this stunning landscape and you’ll spy handsome brick work hiding amongst the foliage as well as the cobbled stones of tiny B&Bs that are ready to welcome you for a truly relaxing weekend.

These are considered be some of the most romantic places to stays for couples and, whilst being far from suitable for low budgets, they are guaranteed to deliver on comfort and style:

Bodysgallen Hall and Spa

Breathtaking views, carefully kept gardens and a luxurious spa wait for you at Bodysgallen Hall, where you can leave your cares at the door and put yourselves in the very capable hands of the well-trained staff. This is a truly one-of-a-kind building that has been progressively built upon for the last six centuries which has resulted in the fascinating architecture that exists today. The medieval heart of the building was originally built as a lookout, but the purpose of the building today remains as a shrine to peace and relaxation.

Plas Bodegroes

Quaint countryside charm exudes from Plas Bodegroes in abundance thanks to its lovely Victorian architecture and picturesque gardens. A decent collection of Welsh paintings greet you upon your arrival and elevate the rustic charms of this cosy boutique hotel beyond that of its competitors. Husband and wife team, Chris and Gunna Chown have run this magical place for 32 years and have fine-tuned their craft in that time. The food in the restaurant has been honoured over the years with a Michelin star which was held for 17 years and was also named UK Restaurant of the Year by the Good Food Guide in 2003.

The Coach House

If you’d rather seek complete seclusion from waiting staff and other guests then you can book into this Grade II listed holiday cottage for a weekend. Although you will have to cook your own meals, you can benefit from a private sun terrace and complete solitude as you relax on 3 acres of beautiful grounds.

In the day you can leave the car parked at the cottage and take a walk through the Snowdonia National Park or stay in, relax and then visit the local historic pub in the evening to skip the cooking and enjoy a romantic meal together. Winner of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2014, this is a must-visit for couples seeking complete privacy.

Chateau Rhianfa

Combining fairy-tale whimsy with sleek modern decor, the Chateau Rhianfa is in a league unto itself, just make sure you book ahead as this grand hotel is often booked months in advance.

Choose from a wide variety of boutique-style rooms that have been carefully decorated to suit all kind of tastes. Whilst the modestly priced Classic Rooms illicit a more humble B&B charm, the superior hotel suites come complete with feature baths, giant bay windows and grand book cases

Eat Your Fill & Sleep Well: 4 Tasty Weekend Retreats

In case you didn’t realise, ‘restaurants with rooms’ are to 2018 what ’boutique hotels’ were to 2017.

There’s been a real explosion in the culture of eating out across the UK.

No longer is London the only place to go for fine dining, as more people across the country are acquiring a taste for fancier dinners some of the most talented chefs in the Big Smoke have been escaping their hectic city lives for a piece of the countryside, with many of them finding quiet spots in Wales to settle down.

Whilst everyone can appreciate a well-cooked meal, it’s arguable that it’s hard to truly enjoy a meal without a decent bottle of wine to accompany it with.

Most fine dining restaurants offer a wine pairing with their dishes, but as many of these eateries are often in the middle of nowhere some diners have always had to restrain themselves so that a designated driver can make the journey back safely. Thankfully, this kind of restraint can now be put on the back-burner (for special occasions – of course!) as many restaurants have started offering rooms for the night, saving drivers the hassle of watching their drinking and no doubt boosting their checks at the same time…

These restaurants with rooms have been ahead of the curve for some time and have perfected their craft as a result – check in for dinner and then roll straight into bed, after a couple of whiskys first, of course:

Castle Cottage Harlech

There’s something to be said about a hospitality team that has succeeded for over 25 years and that’s exactly what Glyn & Jacqueline Roberts have done at the Castle Cottage Harlech, a very well established restaurant which happens to be just 50 metres away from the castle which it takes its name from. Glyn has been serving up an ever-changing seasonal menu since their doors opened and offers a reasonably priced tasting menu at just £45 per head.

The rooms at the Cottage are tastefully decorated with large, plush beds and more than enough space for you and your partner to stretch out. Many of these rooms offer excellent views of the historical village and are a mercifully short distance from the restaurant. One night’s stay in one of their rooms with breakfast included costs £65pp per night.


Tyddyn Llan

You’ve probably not heard of head chef Bryan Webb before and that’s just how he likes it. After spending over 40 years cooking, Bryan has developed a reputation purely based on his excellent cooking skills and innovation, rather than any flashy TV deals. The quality shows in the assured nature with which his staff serve up their Michelin-star level food and this standard is carried across to the rooms that are housed in the same stunning building.

Although the country home is certainly dominated by an opulent aura, you can still take advantage of some deals here for couples. A one night stay with a three-course dinner for two (including breakfast) starts at £160pp. Whilst this might seem steep, it’s worth considering the quality level of service that is provided by the excellent staff here. As far as attractions in north Wales go, this is one of the finest.


The Kinmel Arms

Just tucked to the side of the North Wales Expressway this charming, traditional pub has been a celebrated eating spot for years and now it can add successful hotel to its resume, along with 2 Rosettes and recognition from the Good Food Guide. Owned by business owner Lynn Cunnah-Watson, it’s the perfect stop off on the way to the North Wales coast but when the food and drink is this good, it would be almost foolish not to stay the night.

The menu at The Kinmel Arms is bursting with locally sourced food and, whilst never straying too far away from pub classics, it’s always executed to a tee. The same can be said about their boutique rooms, each of which is available to stay in with the option of including dinner and breakfast from as little as £195 for a couple. Stop for dinner and breakfast, pick up one of their gorgeous hampers and head on your merry way for a day’s walking on the coast.

 

3 Really Rugged Outdoor Adventures

Are you ready for a serious adventure?

With huge stretches of some of the most rugged countryside in the UK, it’s no wonder that North Wales is considered by many to be one of the best places in the UK to engage in outdoor pursuits.

You name: you can do it here in North Wales.

Whether you fancy racing down a gravel track with the mountains of Snowdonia as your backdrop or you’re thinking of hurtling through a disused quarry at speeds of up to 100mph, North Wales is the place to get your adrenaline fix. In the last decade a whole raft of innovative entrepreneurs have been finding new ways to introduce visitors to the stunning countryside and we’ve pulled together the very best rugged outdoor adventures for you to try your hand at the next time you come to the area:

Cliff Camping with Gaia Adventures

You might have heard of wild camping before, it’s where you you forgo the traditional campsite and opt for a more rough’n’ready experience. That means going without any of the usual amenities: no comfy bar to retreat to when it rains, no charge points for your phones and certainly no toilets. The experienced team at Gaia Adventures have taken the concept one step further and not only taken away the tent, but also the ground!

Dangle your legs over the edge of your cliff-side ‘portaledge’ and enjoy a one-of-a-kind camping experience that will certainly leave you with some awesome memories. Whilst you might not get the best night’s sleep completely exposed to the coastline elements, the Gaia Adventures team will be on hand to make your stay as comfortable as possible with hot food and a little Dutch courage to warm your cockles.

Nighttime SUP with Pysched Paddleboarding

Compared to it’s flashier cousin, standup padddleboarding (or SUP as it’s known to its practitioners) has not quite managed to gain as much mainstream popularity, despite it being a much easier skill to pick up. Sian Sykes is seeking to address this imbalance by bringing her brand of high quality SUP adventures to the stunning waters of North Wales. Instead of taking visitors out into the choppy open waters, Sian opts for the tranquil bays and peaceful lakes, allowing you to get to grips with your new skill at a reasonable pace.

Although Sian’s team of instructors offer plenty of sessions during the daytime, Psyched Paddleboarding offer one experience that is truly unique. A Night SUP with Sian is an almost-pitch black trip into star-filled serenity. Once you’ve learnt the basics of SUP, you’ll drive out to either a peaceful bay in Anglesey or a secluded lake in Snowdonia to experience the dusk turn into night. In one of only 11 official ‘Dark Sky’ parks in the world, you’ll get an unparalleled view of the night sky and a mug of hot chocolate to drink it in with.

Ultimate Xtreme with Go Below

Whilst Go Below’s competitors Zip World often get the most media coverage with their jaw-dropping quarry zipline and impressive 100mph speeds, there’s something to be said for the sheer value for money that this company’s flagship experience offers. For the price of just £89 you’ll be able to swoop down a massive nine zip lines – the catch? All of these perilously high-wires are buried hundreds of feet underground.

This whole day activity is absolutely for the adventurers out their seeking a real challenge. You’ll not only have to contend with the extreme zip lines, there are also original miners’ ladders and some of the bridges you’ll cross will be over 150 years old! As dangerous as this all sounds, it’s all completely safe: a professionally installed rope-system is in place to ensure that you’re protected the whole way round.