News - North Wales and Snowdonia

Llandudno and our own Grand Ash Hotel was the destination chosen by John for his group from the Isle of Wight. This popular break provided something for everyone within the diverse programme, including time for a paddle.

Group Picture

It was Monday morning, pouring with rain and still dark on the Isle of Wight. I met our driver, Ryan, who had travelled from the mainland to the island the night before, in my car and he followed me to make our pick ups. Once all 49 of us were onboard we made our way to the ferry for the crossing to Portsmouth. Having reached the mainland we were now on our way to North Wales and the popular Grand Ash Hotel in Llandudno.  The weather slowly improved as we travelled further north and we enjoyed watching “Mrs Brown’s Boys” on DVD to help pass the time. Making a couple of comfort breaks on the way, we eventually arrived at our hotel after a pleasant journey in the afternoon.

The sun was now shining as we entered the Grand Ash Hotel and we were greeted by the hotel manager, Rob, who gave us a brief introduction chat and made us feel most welcome. We all made our way to our allocated bedrooms and the luggage was already waiting for us, which was great as we were all a little tired after an early start and 300 miles on the road. We had sole use of the hotel with our party and was soon enjoying pre-dinner drinks in the bar where the manager Rob was on hand to advise on meal times, fire regulations and entertainment etc.

The whole group were very happy and impressed with everything at this early stage of our holiday. The dinner was lovely with excellent choices at each course and the waiting staff were very helpful and jolly. The group had a fairly early night having tasted the local brew in the bar first!

Tuesday was our first excursion and after a hearty breakfast we were on the way to the mountain resort of Betws Y Coed. As we arrived it started to pour with rain, surprise surprise, being in Wales! This gateway village to Snowdonia offered lots of shops selling quality crafts, clothing and outdoor gear. All the shops were undercover; the ladies loved it, and was situated in such a beautiful location amongst woodland and riverbanks. If shopping was not for you there was many other attractions including a railway museum, golf course, high rope adventure course, mountain biking and horse riding.

Waterfall

The rain had now stopped and we were off again for a short visit at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns. They demonstrated how the slate was cut, which we found interesting, and it was also available to buy. We continued on to the famous Ffestiniog Railway which was the highlight of the day for the group. We travelled from Blaenau Ffestinog to Porthmadog. Whilst travelling the buffet attendants served us with light refreshments and the locally brewed beer went down very well indeed. It was so interesting chugging through the villages and countryside learning fascinating snippets of local history as we went. Most of the staff that work on the railway are volunteers who give up their days off and holidays to be part of this wonderful little railway and you can really see why once you experience it.

The coach met the group again at Porthmadog after an amazing train ride we were on our way back to the hotel to get ready for our evening meal and try an aperitif first! The entertainment in the evening was great, Irish Johnny, a comedian and singer. He had the whole group in stitches of laughter with his jokes and excellent songs for two and a half hours non stop.

Wednesday was a free day for the group to relax and enjoy some time in Llandudno. Ryan our coach driver decided to offer an additional trip for those who wanted to go to Chester. Those who went had an excellent time with lots to see and do. Some of the others who didn’t go such as myself decided to head up to the Great Orme instead. A mesmerising green headland that rises above the town, we took the easy route travelling on the historic Great Orme Tramway. We embarked at the Victoria Tram Station close to the Kings Head, one of Llandudno’s most historic pubs, dating back to the 18th Century. After a wonderful yet rickety tram ride we reached the halfway station to change trams. The views were breathtaking as we eventually arrived at the summit complex, once owned by boxer Randolph Turpin. We were taking in the magnificent views at the top but the wind had picked up greatly and made it difficult to walk too far. We had a coffee in the café before we came back down to earth via the tram once more and went our separate ways. You do have an option of a cable car trip instead but unfortunately due to the high winds this was not running that day.

Some opted for a stroll along the promenade of the north shore to bask in its incredible Victorian beauty and hear the lapping of the sea from the west shore. Others walked along the iconic iron Llandudno pier or enjoyed the views from the restful Haulfre Gardens. Many decided to eat lunch at the Palladium and went for a spot of shopping in the afternoon before heading back to the Grand Ash Hotel to freshen up before dinner. Another excellent meal was provided followed by another night of enjoyable entertainment by way of a duet singing.

Thursday had arrived and our last full day excursion which was going to take us to the slate mining town of Llanberis in a superb lakeside location at the foot of Snowdon. This was followed by a memorable drive over the breathtaking Llanberis Pass stopping to allow us to take some photographs. Our next visit was to Caernarfon, Gwynedds County Town, and home to the famous Caernarfon Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The castle commands the lion’s share of attention, built in the 13th century by Edward I as a royal palace and military fortress it was at the core of this walled town. The Romans left their mark here too; 1000 years prior they constructed the Fort of Segontium on top of the hill above, where its foundations can still be seen. The town’s narrow streets and re-developed waterfront were all worth seeing.

Caernarfon Castle

As this was our final day we were trying to fit as much sight-seeing in as possible so we were on the road again making our way to cross the Menai Straits onto the Isle of Anglesey, stopping at Llanfair PG, shortened from the 58 letter longest name village in Britain (I couldn’t pronounce it anyway). This was a busy tourist attraction with crafts and a woollen centre which the ladies enjoyed again! A final drive around Anglesey rounded off another wonderful day out before we headed back to the hotel for another excellent meal and entertainment in the evening.

Our holiday was almost over and all too quickly. It’s now Friday and we are heading back home having said our farewells and thanks to the staff at the hotel. Ryan our coach driver was excellent and really helped to make this holiday special. We all had a wonderful time and the hotel was excellent in everyway. What a destination to visit too, Llandudno and Snowdonia, with so much to see and do we only just scratched the surface.

The whole group can highly recommend it thanks to Just For Groups! We have already booked our next trip with them and it is already fully booked. We are all looking forward to the Algarve next March!

Kind regards

John  – Group Organiser

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