I still remember my first trip to Wales and how excited I was! Fortunately that excitement has never died. As an avid castle hunter I was thrilled with a country that had more castles per square mile than any other country in Europe! And what spectacular castles they are.
Between the years of 1276 and 1295 Edward I had 17 castles built or repaired in the north of Wales in order to bring Wales under English rule. The list includes Aberystwyth, Beaumaris, Builth, Caernarfon, Conwy, Flint, Harlech, Rhuddlan, Castell y Bere, Criccieth, Dolwyddelan, Caergwrle, Chirk, Denbigh, Hawarden, Holt and Ruthin. Many of these castle are enormous in size including the four greats of Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Harlech and Conwy just to name some of my favorites of the north while in the south we have Pembroke, Cardiff, Coch, Caerphilly, Raglan, Chepstow, Carreg Cennen and Kidwelly just to name a few. The history is as amazing as the castles and the two combined make Wales a brilliant find for any history buff.
But Wales is not just castles. With the great surge of coal production, the country became a vast network of narrow gauge railways which makes for a wonderful way to see the countryside. Wales also has spectacular beaches, majestic peaks and a beautiful coastline. To protect the environment certain parts of Wales have been designated as “National Parks” or as “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty” which ensures many areas of unspoiled scenery and are the jewels in the outdoor crown.
Wales also has Cardiff, the capitol city. Within city centre you’ll find unique attractions, outdoor entertainment and quality shopping. Innovative architecture sits alongside historic buildings including Cardiff Castle which has been the site of continual occupancy for over 2000 years. The castle is also home to Medieval Banquets that showcase the best of young talent in the city. I can’t think of a better way to get the flavor of this amazing country than on a small group tour that highlights the best of what is on offer.
Shannon McDonald Tate