CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cheshire Life today CLICK HERE

7 breathtaking beauty spots in North Wales

PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 August 2016 | UPDATED: 08:47 06 July 2018

Sea arch at Porth Wen, Anglesey. Crown copyright, Visit Wales

Sea arch at Porth Wen, Anglesey. Crown copyright, Visit Wales

© Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales, all rights reserved

Visitors to North Wales are spoilt for choice when seeking out beauty spots, but here are some breathtaking locations to charm any day tripper

Father and son fishing at Lake Vyrnwy. Crown copyright Visit Wales Image CentreFather and son fishing at Lake Vyrnwy. Crown copyright Visit Wales Image Centre

Lake Vyrnwy - Natural beauty, as made by man

Where is it?

South of Lake Bala and on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, not far from the Shropshire border.

Why is it so special?

The scenery here is sometimes reminiscent of Switzerland: hills, forests, waterfalls and that expansive lake. Short on vowels but big on natural beauty, Lake Vyrnwy’s contradiction is that that natural beauty is, in fact, man-made. The stone-built dam was erected in the 1880s to provide water for Liverpool and the surrounding area. That was bad news for the villagers of Llanwddyn, whose homes disappeared under water, but good news for the rest of us, for now we can enjoy this picturesque lakeland in the Berwyn Mountains. Bird-watchers will find lots of feathered life in a 24,000-acre RSPB reserve. There is good fishing and shooting, adventure activities including boating, mountain biking and horse-riding, and even those looking for a lazier time, enjoying the wonderful views and some pampering, are catered for at the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa.

Portmeirion 
in Autumn, Llyn Peninsula
, courtesy of Visit Wales. Crown copyrightPortmeirion in Autumn, Llyn Peninsula , courtesy of Visit Wales. Crown copyright

Portmeirion - Little Italy

Where is it?

On the estuary of the River Dwyryd, close to Portmadog.

Why is it so special?

Its position on a lovely estuary, the architecture, the gardens and woodland, the surreal echoes of Portmeirion’s place of TV history as the location of the strange drama series The Prisoner. This magical place was the vision and life’s work of one man, the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. Over the course of 50 years, from 1925, he turned a neglected wilderness into a village which seemed to have been transplanted to Wales from the Italian Riviera, with a Central Piazza, a Gothic Pavilion, ornamental garden and campanile. There is a Gothic mansion called Castell Deudrath, a stop on the Ffestiniog Railway just a mile away and a quayside which, on the right day, is as photogenic as anything Britain has to offer. Aside from The Prisoner, Portmeirion has a host of other artistic connections: it inspired an Iron Maiden song, and it was where Noel Coward wrote the play Blithe Spirit in 1941.

St Cwyfan's Church
Porth Cwyfan (near Aberffraw)
Churches
Religious
Aerial
North
Historic Sites. Crown copyright Visit Wales.St Cwyfan's Church Porth Cwyfan (near Aberffraw) Churches Religious Aerial North Historic Sites. Crown copyright Visit Wales.

St Cwyfan’s Church - The church in the sea

Where is it?

Near Aberffraw on the south coast of Anglesey.

Why is it so special?

If it looks familiar, you may remember St Cwyfan’s from some breathtaking aerial photography in the BBC TV series Coast. This is a church in a place where no church has a right to be - atop a mound of earth in the middle of a bay, where high tides often cut it off completely. Wet-footed worshippers were not in the original plan for St Cwyfan’s; the church stood originally at the end of a peninsula, but time and tide eventually turned it into an island. The erosion was stopped in 1893 with the construction of a sea wall. Now the little white church - dating back to the 12th century, though substantially rebuilt in the 14th century - stands as a beautiful curiosity in a bay which is a great starting point for a walk around the headland to Aberffraw (a walk on which seals can frequently be seen).

Sea arch at Porth Wen, Anglesey. Crown copyright, Visit WalesSea arch at Porth Wen, Anglesey. Crown copyright, Visit Wales

Porth Wen - The factory by the sea

Where is it?

On the north coast of Anglesey, west of Bull Bay. There is no easy road to it. Either walk the coastal path from Cemaes to Amlwch, in which case, you can’t miss it, or drive west from Bull Bay along the A5025, take the single track road towards Llanbadrig, park where possible and take the footpath towards the coast.

Why is it so special?

Porth Wen has a shingle beach and a natural sea arch formed from the rock. So far, so pretty. But it is also the site of a brickworks which once made silica bricks using quartzite rock. Production ceased a century ago since which time the crumbling factory infrastructure has been gradually reclaimed by nature. It’s a rather eerie museum to Anglesey’s industrial past, to be found, so incongruously, in a place of natural beauty. Warning: the brickworks are private property, with lots of hazards on the site, including sheer, unguarded drops. Enjoy the view from the safety of the coastal path.

Erddig, near Wrexham, by Rupert Truman, courtesy of NTPLErddig, near Wrexham, by Rupert Truman, courtesy of NTPL

Erddig - A home to love

Where is it?

Near Wrexham. Tap LL13 0YT into your satnav.

Why is it so special?

Not just one of Britain’s finest stately homes, Erddig also boasts parkland which has been enjoyed by the public for two centuries. Picnic by the river, marvel at the work of art which is the Cup and Saucer Waterfall, which gathers water from the Black Brook into a circular stone basin with a cylindrical waterfall at its centre. But you must also explore the more formal gardens at Erddig, including the walled garden which has been restored to its 18th century original design. These are gardens of such historic significance that they are grade 1 listed. Erddig’s gardens are also home to rare fruit trees and the National Plant Collection of ivy. And then there is the stately home itself, built at the end of the 17th century for Joshua Edisbury, the High Sheriff of Denbighshire, then held by the Yorke family for 240 years until it was given to the National Trust, which saved the house from the subsidence caused by coal-mining.

Pistyll Rhaeadr, LlanrhaeadrPistyll Rhaeadr, Llanrhaeadr

Pistyll Rhaeadr - Natural wonder

Where is it?

A remote spot south of Corwen, a few miles west of the English border. The address is Waterfall Lane, Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant, Powys SY10 0BZ.

Why is it special?

It’s the highest waterfall in Wales, immortalised in a traditional rhyme about the Seven Wonders of Wales. The River Disgynfa falls almost 80m down a cliff face, cascading at one point through a natural rock arch. The custodians of this natural wonder say that visitors are very quickly overcome by a sense of peace and reverence, though that could be the result of all the negative ions generated by such a cataract. There are lots of walks around this area of the Berwyn Mountains, including one to the top of the waterfall, or you could just sip a hot chocolate at the Tan y Pistyll, the cafe and B&B at the foot of the waterfall while contemplating nature’s majesty. If you are really moved by this landscape, you can even get married there; Pistyll Rhaeadr is licensed for civil weddings and partnerships.

Walker on the path down from Devil's Kitchen to Cwm Idwal with Llyn Idwal and Pen yr Ole Wen in shot, Ogwen. Crown copyright, Visit Wales Image CentreWalker on the path down from Devil's Kitchen to Cwm Idwal with Llyn Idwal and Pen yr Ole Wen in shot, Ogwen. Crown copyright, Visit Wales Image Centre

Ogwen Valley - Magic mountains

Where is it?

South of Bangor, in the northern part of the Snowdonia National Park.

Why is so special?

The picture tells its own story. This is Llyn Idwal, a small lake within Cwm Idwal, a bowl-shaped feature carved by glaciation. On a good day, the Ogwen Valley - where the River Ogwen runs between two mountain ranges, the Glyderau and Carneddau - is as beautiful as anywhere in the world. Even the moderately fit can get in among this spectacularly wild scenery. The walk to Llyn Idwal from the A5 takes under an hour, less than two miles both ways, ascending 200ft. The more adventurous can climb nearby Tryfan, chosen even over Snowdon as the UK’s favourite mountain in a poll by Trail magazine. Of course, this enticing landscape has its bad days too, which is why the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation is one of the busiest in the country.

7 towns you must visit in North Wales

7 beaches in North Wales that you should visit

Related articles

Most Read

Latest from the Cheshire