North Wales

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For the last 150 years, North Wales has been a popular area for holidaymakers, most notably the seaside resorts of Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno. You may be familiar with North Wales, by means of the railway line to Bangor and Holyhead, or remember the multiplicity of caravan sites along the A548 in Prestatyn. There is more to this area besides its popularity with tourists. The development of the A55 North Wales Expressway has made for a faster way into North Wales. Not only into North Wales, but also from Colwyn Bay to Manchester. Or Chester to Holyhead.

On the eastern part of North Wales is Wrexham. It is the largest town in North Wales with a history dating back from around 4300 BC. The centre has two indoor markets and a number of multiple retailers. A short distance away from the town is a host of historical attractions, such as Erddig Hall and Gardens. Close by is the small town of Llangollen, famed for its preserved railway line to Carrog. Its own branch of the Shropshire Union Canal includes the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, completed in 1805 - the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain.

The southern part of North Wales is marked by Thomas Telford's road to Holyhead, today's A5. It takes in Corwen, Betws-y-Coed and Bangor before reaching Holyhead via Anglesey. Attractions on Anglesey include Beaumaris Castle and the Anglesey Sea Zoo. The latter is also a conference venue - quite a contrast to the more usual hotel or conference centre. On Holy Island is Anglesey's largest town, Holyhead. Since the 19th century, it has been an important port with regular sailings to Dublin and Dun Laoghaire.

Back to the mainland, the North Wales coast is dominated by the historic town of Conwy, and the seaside resorts of Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl and Prestatyn. Conwy is a small historical town, partly enclosed by its castle walls. Built on the instructions of Edward I, it is considered as one of "the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe" by UNESCO. Other attractions include the Elizabethan house Ty Mawr, Aberconwy House, Conwy's only surviving 14th century merchant's house amd The Smallest House in Great Britain, a red house which overlooks the quay. The entrance to Conwy Castle is marked by Thomas Telford's Conwy Suspension Bridge and Robert Stephenson's Conwy Railway Bridge.

Since the Victorian era, Llandudno became the biggest and most select resort in North Wales. The latter is down to sympathetic development by Owen Williams, and cooperation with landowner Lord Mostyn (hence Mostyn Street being the town's main shopping street). First class live entertainment takes place at the North Wales Theatre, Arena and Conference Centre. After significant investment and extension, it was renamed Venue Cymru in 2006. Other attractions include Great Orme, with a seasonal heritage bus tour around the peninsula itself. Another way of making the ascent is possible on the Great Orme Cable Tramway.

East of Llandudno is Rhos-on-Sea and Colwyn Bay. One of the UK's smallest churches, Saint Trillo is situated in Rhos-on-Sea, close to its small yet perfectly formed harbour. Neighbouring Colwyn Bay has a number of local and multiple retailers, with Eirias Park and the new Porth Eirias centre offering world class sports facilities. Other attractions include the Welsh Mountain Zoo, which in the summer months is served by a shuttle bus from the town centre.

Rhyl and Prestatyn, in spite of losing popularity to overseas destinations, are popular resorts with a number of caravan sites and holiday camps between Towyn and Gronant. Both Pontins and Haven have holiday camps there. The former camp appeared in 'Holiday on the Buses', the third spin-off film from the early 1970s sitcom 'On The Buses'. Attractions in Rhyl include the Rhyl Suncentre and the Pavilion Theatre. As well as hosting first class live entertainment, it is also a good conference venue.

A little further inland are Rhuddlan, Ruthin and Bodelwyddan castles. On the banks of the River Clwyd, it was completed in 1282 under Edward the First's reign. Part of the River Clwyd was straightened and dredged to allow ships to sail inland. Ruthin Castle, also built in the same era would be incorporated into a hotel. Though a similar fate was true of Bodelwyddan Castle, part of it remains open to visitors as a museum and arts centre, as too are its gardens.

Sports fanatics in North Wales will be suitably placated by the number of golf courses, rugby union and association football sides. The Welsh Premier League is well represented with sides including Rhyl, Prestatyn Town and Airbus UK. Playing in English leagues are Wrexham and Colwyn Bay.

North Wales has a lot to offer, whether you wish to consider the area as a conference venue or a fine place to explore. The A5 and A55 allow for fast travel from the West Midlands and North West of England, with regular trains from Chester to Holyhead, calling at the North Wales resorts. There is an hourly service from Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno and services to Blaenau Ffestiniog from the latter along the Conwy Valley line.

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