When I visited the Conwy Valley, staying at Llanrwst, in November, I was not expecting to be back in the area so soon. 

On 25th January, the Association of European Rail Agents met in the Imperial Hotel, Llandudno, and I was able to have a walk along the whole pier and pay a visit in the evening to nearby Conwy.  It just confirmed what I had always thought, that this is a really special area to visit, and on the way back home my ticket only cost £20.95 which was a real bargain.  I don’t know what the outward fare from Yarm, Sunderland, or Darlington might be because I was coming from a prison near Bury St Edmunds, which is another story. 

On the way back, I had to divert via Edinburgh to attend a funeral, and therefore made a journey from Wales into England and Scotland, and then back to England again on a stopping service from Edinburgh Waverley to Chester-le-Street, all punctual and uncrowded despite the strong winds.  Other northeast stations are available.

So, back to Llandudno.  I stayed two nights having travelled north on the Avanti West Coast service towards Holyhead, alighting at Llandudno Junction three miles to the south of the main resort, and quite close to the mediaeval town of Conwy.  It used to be known as Conway until the Welsh usage prevailed as Conwy.  The connecting train to Llandudno delivered a handful of passengers to the Queen of the Welsh resorts.  It’s a few minutes walk to the front and I checked in at 2045 which, as it happens, is the time for the last orders in the restaurant.  My colleagues had arrived and eaten earlier, and having dropped off my stuff in room 422 I went out on the ultimately unsuccessful search for something to eat.

The Imperial Hotel has a gym and a pool for the use of residents, and in the off-season offers rooms for £69.  That includes a good breakfast, but on the morning of my departure I only had a cup of coffee as the restaurant only opened at 0730, and my train was at 0743.  The town’s good hotels are all on the Promenade, and the shops are one street back, many featuring Victorian verandahs which can be used to avoid the rain, if there is any!   I found the Post Office where Alan Bates used to be a postmaster before being evicted and leading the campaign for justice for subpostmasters.  The man should be awarded a CBE. 

Come March, all the attractions will be trading, but the Pier – the longest in Wales – is free and open, as well as the Home Front Museum which allows visitors to experience the sights and sounds of the Second World War.  The mountain adjacent to the town is the Great Orme, which can be ascended on foot, or by tram, or by cable car.  The tramcar waiting in the bottom station is just ready to depart it seems, but it will be a few weeks yet.

I took the bus three miles to Conwy and returned by train.  Cadw, the Welsh version of English Heritage, looks after the impressive Castle, built 1283-7 which is open all year, alongside Aberconwy House, a fourteenth-century merchant’s house in the care of the National Trust.  The Smallest House in Britain, a tiny red building on the Quay, reopens on 24th March, known as “The Smalls” although once occupied by a 6ft 3in fisherman.  There is a nominal charge, but it doesn’t take long for the tour. It makes the Anker’s House in Chester-le-Street look positively palatial.


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