Llandudno in North Wales is a place close to my heart. I visited the quaint seaside resort with my parents as a child and later with my own children.
I hadn’t been to Llandudno for about fifteen years and I was kind of hoping it would still be the same. I am so nostalgic nowadays, always dreaming of times past and happy memories. Perhaps we do this as we get older ? Do we look back as the future seems scary and we long for those times of childhood innocence when stress was an alien word ?
Anyway, back to reality and the reason for my visit to Llandudno. My lovely father passed away three years ago and Llandudno was one of his favourite places so I figured a trip back with my elderly mum would be a nice trip down memory lane where we could reminisce about the good old days.
After a seamless two hour journey from North Yorkshire along the busy M62 we arrived at our first stop off point in North Wales with the prospect of a hearty lunch. We arrived at a place called Pantasaph, a Franciscan Friary near Holywell, about forty minutes drive east of Llandudno. As soon as we drove into the car park of this Catholic Retreat Centre, the memories came flooding back and although I had not visited here for about thirty years, I actually remembered where everything was and how it would look. The peace and tranquility of the surroundings was so obvious to me on stepping out of the car that I knew in that moment it was the ‘same’ Pantasaph that I remembered from all those years ago.
There were, of course a few changes for the good. The main one being the inclusion of a cafe located in a stone outbuilding near the car park. As it was lunchtime, this is where we headed first. The cafe is a beautiful shabby chic style eating place with a lovely menu boasting fresh ingredients and the best coffee ever. We were not disappointed. We all chose a various selection of sandwiches which were huge portions and served with salad. And yes, the coffee was just amazing and would put any high street coffee offering to shame. The cakes and desserts looked amazing but I am afraid we were just too full to sample them.
Following lunch we went for a leisurely stroll round the grounds, meeting only a handful of other visitors, thus retaining the calm and quiet atmosphere. We found ourselves on the Stations Of the Cross walk which remains unchanged from my first visit as a young child. The pathway ( which at times can be slippy so please wear strong shoes ) meanders through woodland on a gentle incline, with wooden Stations Of the Cross intermittently situated within the trees. There is also a small diversion off this path that takes you to a Grotto. I believe this is based on the Grotto at Lourdes. The Grotto is a beautiful peaceful area cut out from the mountainside and is a wonderful place to meditate or just to be quiet with your own thoughts.
We came to Pantasaph as it was a favourite destination of my parents when they were visiting Llandudno and it is a good stop off point before you reach the resort. Although it is a Catholic Centre there is no pre requisite to be Catholic to visit and to enjoy the peaceful surroundings. In fact although my mum is Catholic, I am not but I still enjoyed and appreciated the peace and stillness of the centre. And it is definitely worth a stop off at the wonderful cafe on site. If you visit, let me know what you think to the coffee !
Just a forty minute drive down a relatively quiet road, we arrived at Llandudno and our hotel for two nights, the Llandudno Bay Hotel. This impressive looking hotel is on the edge of town ( 15 minute walk) and so is away from the hustle and bustle, which was perfect for us and my mum.
The Llandudno Bay Hotel is a 4 star boutique hotel which retains many features of the original Victorian building but still presenting modern and high end facilities. All the rooms are contemporary styled with all mod cons including USB charging and free WiFi throughout the hotel. Sitting in the relaxing cocktail lounge we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon tea which was delicious and was made more perfect by the amazing sea views that we enjoyed from our comfy chair.
Our room which was on the second floor was light and airy with the most amazing sea views. There is something so invigorating and yet relaxing about looking out to sea and hearing the waves crashing on the beach. Sometimes I think it would be lovely to live by the sea to experience this every day.
If you want to get a little fresh sea air while relaxing there is nothing more suitable than the oversized deck chair at the front of the hotel. It was actually very comfortable once you were in it but I have to admit I struggled to get out and had to resort to unladylike methods. No, that part was not captured on camera, I’m glad to say.
After a relaxing night at the hotel we made our way into the centre of Llandudno. It was quite busy as we were there just at the start of the school holidays so we avoided the town centre, choosing instead to visit the seafront and the pier. Llandudno is a traditional seaside resort and doesn’t appear to have lost any of its charm that I remember as a young girl. The pier still had the same children’s rides that I remember my own children riding on some twenty years ago. Ah, the nostalgia was just wonderful. It felt like yesterday and gave me a warm fuzzy feeling of good times past.
It was very windy while we were there but we still ventured up the Great Orme as we knew we would be treated to some spectacular views at the top. The Great Orme is a prominent headland overlooking the town of Llandudno with the highest point about 679 feet. Don’t worry, you can actually drive to the top via Marine Drive which is now a one way toll road but only costs £3. There is also a tram and a cable car which is used to take visitors to the summit, although the cable car does not run during inclement weather and it was closed on the day we were there.
It is definitely worth a trip to the top of the Great Orme as the views are just breathtaking. There is also a cafe, shop and visitor centre at the summit and various vantage points for taking photos.
Also at the summit is the Llandudno Ski Centre which looked amazing and would make a great family day out. It offers a wide range of slope based activities such as skiing, snowboarding, sno-tubing and a huge toboggan run over 700m long. Sadly my mother at age 87 wasn’t too keen on stopping at the ski centre so we weren’t able to try out the facilities. We descended the Great Orme but not before stopping at a beautiful 12th century church which is still in use today.
We ended our busy day back at the hotel watching the sun go down over the sea while eating a wonderful dinner. Sometimes we only need a couple of days to feel totally relaxed and to recharge the batteries. As much as I love going abroad for some welcome sun, I always enjoy breaks in the UK so much. The UK is a wonderful diverse place with so much to offer and sometimes I think we neglect to appreciate what we have. Ok, the weather sometimes lets us down but we are tough Brits and we can handle a bit of rain can’t we ?
Overall I loved my little break to Llandudno with my family. It still retains the traditional seaside resort but offers families and individuals much more from a relaxing seaside holiday to the many activities on offer.
I hope you enjoyed this little postcard from Llandudno. Please comment below and tell me what you think. Have you been to Llandudno before ? What were your thoughts on it ? What do you think to holidays in the UK ? Do they still hold the same appeal as they did twenty years ago ?
Until next time.