As I mentioned on instagram, I’ve never really been to Wales. I once visited Talacre Beach with Otis, Mike, my inlaws and everyone but it just seems like a blur thanks to having to keep Otis under control and there being so many people there. So on Bank Holiday Monday, Mike surprised me with a trip to Wales where it was just us – and honestly, I’ve fallen pretty hard for the place. The first stop we made was Llandudno, Mike originally wanted to go on the Toboggan but the queue was hours and hours long.
Instead, we decided to climb the rocks and soak in the view – a choice I hadn’t dressed for in skiddy flipflops but I managed. At the top on the grass I was able to go barefoot which worked much better! Mountain goat I am not..!
The view was simply amazing. I don’t think it can even be captured in these photographs. We found a ledge and sat down for a while, watching the boats in the harbour below and listening to the bandstand music floating up from the pier – it was blissful. Certainly a tranquil moment that we won’t be forgetting in a hurry!
While Mike came to Wales a lot as a child, my family went northwards to Northumberland and Scotland – somewhere I hope to share with him in the near future. It was wonderful listening to the stories he could remember about certain places – and due to the Toboggan queue still looking hectic we decided to clamber back down and head to a place called Conwy, as he mentioned it had something special.
Obviously, having never been to Wales I’d never even heard of Conwy so I had no idea that when we arrived I’d be looking up at the colossal Conwy castle! We ended up parking behind the walls, which cost us the princely sum of £1.50. It was a short walk up to the wall walk, then from there we walked along the top of them to the entrance. Warning: when scaling the stairs to walk on the walls, don’t look down!
Now, for those wondering why I didn’t vlog this experience – it happens to be a rather embarrassing thing. I have, as you can see by the photograph – the biggest spot on my nose. The kind of spot you need to register for a birth certificate because it really is that huge. I’m attempting a little bit of a detox at the moment when it comes to refined sugars so I presume the spot is a result of my body ridding itself of toxins – but yikes. I don’t want to subject anyone to anymore of that, thank you!
Just to warn you, this post gets incredibly photograph-heavy from this point in – it was such a spectacular place I can’t get enough of the shots Mike managed to get!
I cannot stress to you how big this place is. I felt absolutely miniscule. It already looms over the town on a rock outcrop, so inside you’re pretty high up. Then when you begin exploring the towers and such inside, you climb higher and higher – it really is somewhere you have to experience yourself so I urge you to visit.
We had arrived at around 5.30pm which meant we only had half an hour to wander which worked out for the best – the lady at the desk explained at 6pm she would come round ringing a bell which was the signal you had to leave if you hadn’t already done so.
The first tower we climbed was enough for me. Half way up this fireplace projected onto the wall scared me half to death as I hadn’t been expecting to see something moving in a deserted tower! It was around this point that Mike continued up the tower to the top, whereas I had to have a bit of a seat.. I’ve never experienced vertigo before but my legs simply turned to jelly and my stomach tied itself into a giant knot. The world span and that was me done for turrets and stairways!
Mike admitted even he was experiencing vertigo after he’d come back down to Earth again, but he knew he wanted to get some photographs from the heavens so he’d persisted. I can’t explain the feeling of vertigo, but it was incredibly debilitating and I don’t want to go through that again! We put it down to what I previously mentioned – the castle itself is already high above the town, so climbing the stairwells was just too much for my equilibrium!
See how far away he was? And the fact before climbing stairs, you were already in the heavens? Also, notice how I’m holding the side rail? That’s because at that point the world was still spinning and I had no idea what was really there anymore.
The stairwells in question. I had to navigate my way back down to the ground level holding the rope, the wall, and with Mike walking on the stair in front of me. I’ve never needed to worry about that so it was a very strange and surreal experience.
Back on the ground level we explored the various rooms. The corridors were incredibly dark as you can see, I did wonder at one point why they were so dark until I realised I was wearing sunglasses – and the fact we dropped in towards dusk probably didn’t help! They were very close and confined, you really got a feel of how it used to be when the castle was in commission – I can’t imagine how the people stationed here must have felt at full capacity.
The Kings Chamber – as you can just make out, there was a sculpture here of the Kings head hanging over the entire room. I do like the little touches around the castle which add a little ‘something’ to the place, such as the projected fireplace and this sculpture. I have to add also that the fireplace played music which echoed around the entire place rather hauntingly.
From the information we read, this is where the ghoulish decorations of hanging bodies used to dangle. Basically the bodies of Englishmen during one of the sieges that happened here – it was a weird time of day to be in this part, especially just the two of us. We didn’t linger.
Obviously, as soon as we found out about the Prison Tower we had to investigate. The Prison Tower didn’t fail us either, turns out those on the bad side of the authority here were tossed down a twelve foot drop to die at the bottom. Very barbaric but I can’t fault their style.
This is the twelve foot drop in question. They’ve commemorated by incorporating a large sculpture into it, with a sword and coronet as the main feature. This was a very confined space and it was really hard to photograph, especially with two of us squeezed onto the same viewing platform!
Now, again Mike decided to brave the dizzying heights of the tower. When we disappeared upstairs, I went outside and settled down to wait for him on terra firma. He made his way up the tower and came face to face with..
This photogenic little guy was quite happy to let Mike into his tower to photograph down into the area we had just been, but not without posing a little bit for his own private feathery photoshoot first.
Looking down into the tower. Back in the day there would have been floors obscuring the view of course, but looking down into the tower from this height is certainly something that sends shivers down my spine.
The views are unrivalled from this height though and I find myself a little jealous of Mike that he made it up there to see this in person. You can see the whole town, and its so picturesque – my love affair with Wales has well and truly begun and I don’t see it ending any time soon.
Behind him, a flurry of wings alerted Mike to this guy again.
I think its such an adorable little story that I’ve included the pictures on this post because poor Mike came back down the tower a little bewildered at the friend he had made. It was at this point we heard the bell ringing in the distance so we made our way back towards the entrance, the last ones to leave that night. It was silent as we walked through the castle, and something I won’t forget.