Holyhead, Wales, United Kingdom
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Despite having been governed from Westminster since 1536, Wales is very much a separate country with its own distinct Celtic identity. It is partly because of the rugged terrain that the Welsh have managed to maintain their separate identity and their ancient language. Your day in North Wales will showcase a bilingual policy where road signs are in both Welsh and English, and you'll be intrigued by the place names made up of native words that describe features of the landscape or ancient buildings.
First travel across Anglesey to the Menai Strait with its wooded banks separating the island from the mainland of North Wales. Although narrow, the waters of the Strait can be stormy in winter and the tidal currents are among the fiercest in the British Isles. Telford's graceful suspension bridge, which carries the Holyhead Road 100 feet above the water, was opened in 1826.
Make the most of a photo stop at Beaumaris Castle, the eighth and last of the castles built by Edward I to maintain his conquest of North Wales. Today the castle is the focal point of the elegant little resort town of Beaumaris, with its peaceful streets and graceful yachts moored in the harbor.
There are fine coastal views as the main road sweeps along past the resort towns of North Wales towards Conwy in its setting between the wide estuary and Snowdonia's foothills. Enjoy contrasting views of the Welsh countryside and agricultural landscapes. The importance of sheep-farming is very much in evidence on the lower slopes of the surrounding hills. Visit Conwy Castle -- a masterpiece of medieval architecture. Conwy is one of the most picturesque of Welsh castles, boasting eight beautifully proportioned towers. Originally built by Edward I in the late 1200s, the castle's commanding position on a rocky outcropping overlooking the river estuary provided it with great military might. A suspension bridge, added in 1826, crosses the river and leads directly to the main castle gate, forming a dramatic sight for today's visitors. Explore the castle, walking around the empty ruins, climbing its battlements and looking down through the floorless towers and roofless rooms.
Conwy town is one of the best examples of a medieval walled town in Britain. It is little wonder that Conwy is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, history is very much alive and the town and its shops are waiting to be explored.
Later you will stop at Llanfairpwll -- the local and abbreviated title for the village boasting the longest name in Britain with 58 letters. You'll have time for shopping at the large Pringle Woolen Store, where you can browse and shop for knitwear, sweaters, clothing, Welsh crafts, gifts and souvenirs.