When we were looking for somewhere to stay in North Wales, we really weren’t sure where to start. The guides that we read said to stay near Chester. But when I started my search most places we wanted to visit took us closer to the coast or to Snowdonia. We wanted to be able to visit castles near the border of England/Wales but to also head west towards Snowdonia and more north to the coast as well. After some back and forth, we ended up in Llangollen.
Established in the 7th century, Llangollen is still a small village known for shopping and as a hub for adventurers. The town itself is adorable and we really enjoyed walking around and taking in the sights.
Our home away from home was at the Panorama Cottages which was located high above town just below the limestone mountains. When we booked our cottage, we knew that it was outside of the town center, but we didn’t realize that it would be close enough for an easy dinner out in the evenings and yet, so completely rural that there was really nothing around us beyond sheep, cows and horses for miles. The road we took up the cottages was one of those narrow one lane (meant for 2 cars) deals with hedges so high up you can’t see beyond what’s right in front of you. Thankfully being rather rural, we didn’t come across cars driving up there often!!
What we also loved about the farm was all the sheep. We had to drive over a cattle crossing area to get into the cottages, meaning bars in the ground that kept the sheep from escaping (though we did see a few who managed over the few days we were there!). So as we drove up the hill to the cottages, there were tons of sheep, both big and small, crossing in front of us as we drove! As with the Netherlands, I love all the new babies in the spring time! Though I did find out that these adorable little lambies are for slaughter and not for wool 😦
The views at the Panorama Cottages were second to none! And depending on the time of day and the sunlight (or lack thereof), it changed constantly. But one thing didn’t change – the serenity of being in the country and just relaxing and enjoying what nature has to offer!
The cottage itself was adorable and appeared newly updated. I love doing home stays on our trips as we can spread out and not feel on top of each other like we do in hotels. Not to mention, getting a taste of living somewhere new is always fun! Liam would have loved to have stayed on and hang out with all the lambs!! And Aidan said he could make himself right at home in the cottage…with a few small changes of course 😉
Liam and I took several walks over our few days at the farm. We liked going up behind the cottages and scaling little bits of the mountain behind us. He also liked tracking the sheep that were back there! Unfortunately there was one evening where he was just a little too high to see above the ridge and I lost sight of him and he lost sight of me. He turned back and I didn’t realize it and when I climbed up to find him, he was no where to be seen. Panic ensued even though there were no trees keeping me from seeing him – he had just disappeared! He appeared about 5 minutes later with some sheep very upset that he couldn’t locate me either. New rule – always make sure Mom (or Dad) is in sight!!!
From the farm, we were able to see the remains of a castle on the next ridge over from us. I was talking with one of the workers on the farm and she told me that it was once a Welsh castle. According to her, many of the English castles are still in good condition but most of the Welsh built ones look like this one. While many castles in Wales are in still good shape, they were built by the English to protect themselves from the Welsh! At least that’s what she told me!
The castle remains by the farm was of the Castell Dinas Bran or the Crow Castle. Legend has it that this is a possible burial site of the Holy Grail but t was also the 13th century home of Madoc ap Gruffydd Maelor. However, prior to the existing castle, there had been a fort that had been built around 800BC, reinforcing the location being an important one in Welsh history.
We took a few walks heading towards the castle, but it was further away than it appeared and I hear it’s quite a hike up to the top!
The steam railway is a big tourist attraction in Llangollen. While the original railway route could take you all the way to London back in the 1800s, it stopped running in the mid 1900s. A foundation was formed to restore parts of the railway to take visitors along the scenic River Dee to Corwen, a small town about 10 miles away.
We had originally planned to take the train to Corwen and then hop off for a few hours, but upon getting off the train we found there wasn’t a whole lot to the town and decided to take the train back into town. It was well worth the ride though as the train has been beautifully restored and the journey along the river is stunning with fields of sheep and cattle all along the way.
All in all, Llangollen far surpassed our expectations and I would highly recommend any visitors to North Wales make a stop there for the day or for a night or two!
Knuffels en kussen,