Caernarfon is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to North Wales and it’s not hard to see why. UNESCO World Heritage status, great shopping, an authentic Welsh feel and some great places to eat and drink, and you have all the makings of a memorable day out. But, look again, and you will see Caernarfon has even more to offer.
Join us for an alternative sightseeing tour of Caernarfon and uncover some new and exciting things to see and do during the Year of Legends.
1. Dinas Dinlle
Caernarfon is a town laced with history and just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Castle Square, you will find the equally historic village of Dinas Dinlle. Best known for its picture-perfect stretch of sandy beach, Dinas Dinlle was an important settlement during the Iron Age. The remains overlook the beach and afford breathtaking views of the Llyn Peninsula and Llanddwyn Island off Anglesey.
The saltmarshes of Dinas Dinlle are classified a Site of Special Scientific Interest and form part of an RSPB reserve so it’s an area rich in flora and fauna too. With a couple of shops and cafes (a great one beachside), Dinas Dinlle is a lovely spot to get away from it all for a few hours.
It wasn’t just Edward I who saw the strategic importance of Caernarfon. Just outside the town centre lie the remains of Segontium Roman fort. The largest structure of its kind excavated in Wales, the fortress billeted a 1,000 strong regiment of soldiers during the Roman conquest of Wales. Dating from around 70 AD, Segontium was the military and administrative centre for north-west Wales throughout the Roman period.
Today, Segontium is under the care of the CADW and entry is free of charge. Onsite there is an interesting visitor centre (check website for opening dates and times) and several reenactments are held throughout the year – occasions not to be missed!
3. Ben Twthill
This secret spot stands in full view of all who visit Caernarfon but tourists rarely venture off the beaten path to explore it. Make the effort, though, and you will be rewarded with some of the best views on the coast. The hill that rises behind the town is a small but significant site. It witnessed a fierce battle during the Wars of the Roses and hosts a memorial to those who died in the Boer War.
But the views from Ben Twthill are what it’s all about with great photo opportunities across the rooftops of Caernarfon to Anglesey plus – the icing on the cake – an unobstructed view of Snowdonia.
Back in the town centre, the castle and walls provide a day-out in themselves. However, spare some time to visit and – silently – contemplate Porth-yr-Aur or the Golden Gate. One of only two entry points into the town during the medieval period, this harbourside gateway was constructed, like the castle, in the Byzantine style and named in honour of the setting sun. Local legend says those passing through the gate must not speak or bad luck will befall the speaker!
5. Cae’r Gors
A short drive from Caernarfon will bring you to an important but unassuming site of Welsh historic importance. The quaint, quarryman’s cottage of Cae’r Gors in Rhosgadfan looks like something out of a fairytale.
But this was the childhood home of someone whose feet were planted firmly in the real world. Kate Roberts – writer, teacher and political activist – was a woman ahead of her time. Born in the late 19th century in rural Wales, Kate went on to become owner and editor of Welsh language newspaper, Y Faner. Beloved in Wales for her short stories about daily life in the quarrying villages, she is known affectionately as brenhines ein llên (queen of our literature).
In a Year of Legends, we think Kate deserves to be recognised internationally as a true Welsh legend and we hope we’ve inspired you to visit her childhood home and other hidden gems of Caernarfon.
Images: Segontium courtesy of Nilfanion via Wikimedia Commons. Cae’r Goes © Copyright Eric Jones and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.