Railway lovers will find paradise aboard the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways, a working narrow gauge rail system that transports riders back in time with a 40-mile route through the Snowdonia National Park in Pullman-style carriages.
The comforts of home
The area around Snowdon is called Snowdonia. This part of Wales is known for its tenacious adherence to time-honoured traditions. Visitors can experience these traditions up close while having a home-cooked dinner with Welsh families (arranged by Turnstone Tours; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Feast on locally grown produce and famed Welsh lamb and try to wrap your tongue around a few words of Welsh in the process. Lechyd da means “cheers!”
Fit for a prince
North Wales is also home to HRH Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton. The Prince lives on Anglesey, a sea-girt island at the edge of Wales’ northwest border. William’s current job (2011) is at the Royal Air Force’s Search and Rescue Program. Although tours are not allowed, you can still drive by the facility and watch the jets stream by—you’ll possibly see William on one of his missions. Anglesey is also fringed with remote and pristine beaches, stone burial mounds from Druid times and a well said to be lucky for lovers, presided over by the Welsh Saint of Love, St. Dwynwyn. Aston Kutcher and his lady love Demi Moore spent time here while Demi was filming the movie, Half Light. Luxurious hotels and spas on the island insure that although Anglesey feels lost in time, it’s never far from creature comforts.
Four Welsh castles collectively form a UNESCO World Heritage site: Harlech, Beaumaris, Conwy and Caernarfon. Edwardian invaders left these imposing fortresses, still some of the world’s most striking examples of medieval architecture. Follow in royal footsteps at Caernarfon Castle where Prince Charles was invested as the Prince of Wales in 1969. Or stay the night at Ruthin Castle, once owned by King Henry VIII and later by Queen Elizabeth I. Nearby, wander the atmospheric ruins of Denbigh Castle and the town’s ancient walls.
Useful North Wales links: