The top 5 most romantic places to propose in North Wales

You’ve had the approval of the in-laws, spent days looking for the perfect ring, and you’re absolutely certain that this one is for keeps. But what comes next is the most nerve wracking part – popping the question to your loved one. It’s daunting enough without the added pressure of finding the perfect moment and place!

Picking the day

This time of year is very special for Welsh lovers. Did you know, we have our very own patron saint of love, Saint Dwynwen?

Dwynwen was a 4th century Welsh princess who, sadly, was unlucky in love. You can read her tragic tale here. Dwynwen become a nun, making her home on nearby Llanddwyn Island, and dedicating her life to praying for lovers to enjoy the happiness she was deprived of.

We celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day on 25 January, making it the most romantic day on the Welsh calendar. Besides Valentine’s Day (why wait?), could there be a better day to start your new adventure together?

Setting the mood

We think the Royal Victoria is a charming romantic getaway. Many of our recently-refurbished rooms have stunning views. The mesmerising waters of Llyn Padarn; the constant cliffs of Pen y Pass; and the heroic silhouette of Dolbadarn Castle are just some of the vistas that can be enjoyed from the hotel.

Our beautiful and intimate Victoria Restaurant overlooks the lake, and its decadent surroundings are right out of a romantic movie. Afterwards, you can relax with a nightcap in the Eryri Bar & Lounge and maybe even start planning for the Big Day!

But, whilst we can most definitely set the mood, it’s down to you to find the perfect place to pop the question…

Finding the place

To help, we’ve come up with our five favourite romantic spots in North Wales. We think your special someone will be bowled over by a proposal if you choose one of these legendary places!

1. Dolbadarn Castle, Llanberis

Most romantic places to propose North Wales

If you read our last blog, you’ll know that Dolbadarn, a medieval castle built by Welsh princes, is actually located right here in the grounds of our hotel!

It’s a magical place and often overlooked by tourists because of it’s out-of-the-way position, set back from the road. But seclusion is exactly what makes it perfect for a proposal. Seclusion and the jaw-dropping views, that is.

If you’ve always imagined sweeping your partner off their feet like a valiant knight from days-of-old, this could be the place to win your fair maiden.

2. Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey

Most romantic places to propose in North Wales

Without doubt, this is one of the most romantic destinations to be found anywhere in Wales. Llanddwyn translates to ‘the Church of St.Dwynwen’ and Dwynwen, indeed, retired to a life of seclusion here after she lost the love of her life.

It is said that Dwynwen’s dying wish was to be taken to watch the sunset through a cleft in a rock, which still stands on the island. Find this place with your partner, tell Dwynwen’s sad story and let the atmosphere do the rest!

3. Swallow Falls, Betws y Coed

Romantic places to propose North Wales

Swallow Falls is hard to beat for back-to-nature romance. It is the highest continuous waterfall in Wales, located two miles west of Betws-y-Coed in the Gwydir Forest.

From the A5 (the road that runs out of Betws into the Snowdonia National Park) there are numerous short walks and picture postcard viewpoints to admire the falls from. However, it’s a popular tourist attraction and can get very busy. And busy doesn’t really equal romantic, does it?

Instead, we suggest you take a walk through the woods and be rewarded with a really dramatic – and secluded – view of the falls. You’ll have time to work up the courage for your big moment and, hopefully, your partner will be spellbound by the beautiful natural surroundings! How could anyone say ‘no’ in such an idyllic place?

4. Plas Newydd, Anglesey

Romantic places to propose North Wales

Does your other half love historical romance? Downton Abbey? Victoria? Poldark? Plas Newydd is a National Trust stately home set on the banks of the Menai Strait on Anglesey.

Inside, the house features impressive interiors from days-gone-by; you could be mistaken for thinking you’ve just stepped into a lavish period drama. Outside, you’ll be dazzled by breathtaking views of the Menai Strait and Snowdonia before getting lost in acres of romantic woodland, beautiful in all four seasons.

Take a walk… see where your feet lead you. We’re certain you’ll stumble across a spot that feels just right for that special question.

5. Portmeirion, Porthmadog

Romantic places to propose North Wales

Portmeirion is a fascinating place, perched above an estuary, close to Porthmadog. It’s often described as a fantasy village, which is true; it’s just like being in an old fashioned movie (think Roman Holiday or La Dolce Vita).

Built over several decades, the village was a labour of love for it’s creator, the architect Sir Clough Williams Ellis, and this somehow makes it all the more romantic.

Constructed in the Italian Riviera style, you will feel like romantic leads in your own silver screen love story.

Stay with us

We’d love you to visit the Royal Victoria for your romantic getaway and we even have an exclusive package just for lovers. Alternatively, why not join us for an intimate Valentine’s dinner for two on Saturday 11 February? Full details are available here, but booking is essential!

Proposing can be one of the most daunting things you’ll ever do but we hope this blog helps you choose the perfect location for that much-anticipated, special moment – pob lwc (good luck)!

Images: Dolbadarn Castle: Tori Smith (own work), 2017. Swallow Falls: © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.​ Plas Newydd: Robin Leicester (own work) under the Creative Commons Licence via Wikimedia Common. Llanddwyn and Portmeirion: © Crown copyright 2016 (Visit Wales).​

Dolbadarn: our castle and other Llanberis legends

Dolbadarn is just one of many Llanberis legends

Dolbadarn Castle keeps quiet watch along the Llanberis Pass.

 

Dolbadarn Castle (we affectionately think of it as our castle) sits quietly within the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hotel, sentinel of the twin lakes of Padarn and Peris.

It is, quite possibly, the most overlooked castle in Wales and, although we quite like having it to ourselves, we think we should share this and other Llanberis legends with you in the hope that you might visit and share in the magic of our wonderful village.

Small but mighty

Nested in tranquil woodland, it’s easy to assume this marvel of 13 century engineering has led a quiet life in comparison to larger, more heroic fortresses in the region, such as Harlech and Caernarfon.

But Dolbadarn was keeping watch long before Edward I set his sights on Wales. It played a crucial role in Llywelyn the Great’s quest to unite the Princes of Wales and its strategic position at the foot of the Llanberis Pass meant even a small garrison could control movement through the valley, which was the principal route into the kingdom of Gwynedd.

Dolbadarn was taken by English forces in 1284, and the castle became the sorry victim of neglect and pilfering. Timbers from the interior were taken and used in the construction of Caernarfon Castle. The fact that this little fortress, now in the care of Welsh historic monuments CADW, has remained relatively intact is a testament to the skill and ingenuity of Welsh engineers, who were new to the phenomenon of castle building.

Clever design

Unlike its complex and imposing cousin, Castell y Bere in Llanfihangel y Pennant, Dolbadarn is of simple construction, an example of a ‘round tower’ keep. The design, almost childish in appearance, was incredibly effective. Constructed from local slate the castle was as much as part of the landscape then as now.

With the main entrance located on the first floor, entry would have been virtually impossible once the access ladder was retracted. Unwelcome visitors would have been met with a barrage of missiles from hoardings (wooden platforms built out from the walls) on the upper reaches of the tower.

When it came to missiles, anything went. Along with burning oil and boiling water, rotten food, human excrement, even dead bodies would be pelted down to repel attackers – a rudimentary form of chemical warfare.

Image courtesy St John O'Neill, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, via Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy St John O’Neill, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, via Wikimedia Commons

Dolbadarn keep was encircled by a wall housing the day-to-day activities of the castle: the bakery, the kitchen, the stores and the stables. In addition, smaller towers to the south and east of the enclosure provided extra vantage points and a great hall was used for entertaining visitors and to accommodate passing nobility.

Today, only the round tower survives intact but the remains of enclosure buildings, including the hall, can also be seen.

The lowest level of the keep is possibly the most interesting and mysterious, with no useful record of its use. The basement could only be accessed by a single tiny trapdoor and, with so little known of its function, one may wonder at the sinister purpose it could have served.

Political player

Before being seized by Edward Longshanks, Dolbadarn played a crucial role in the struggle for the overlordship of all Wales.

Claimant to the throne, Owain Goch, was imprisoned in Dolbadarn for almost 20 years by his brother and ruler, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. Almost 200 years later, Dolbadarn once again because a symbol of Welsh independence when the castle was used by Owain Glyndwr to house prisoners of war.

This episode became known as ‘Dolbadarn’s last gasp’ but, wow, what a way to bow out of our proud history!

Llanberis: where fact meets fiction?

The small village of Llanberis sits at the heart of Snowdonia National Park. It is well-known as a world-class climbing centre and has a proud history of slate mining but the area has its fair share of myths and legends too.

Llanberis has a rugged beauty: sitting below craggy peaks, on the shores of not one but two massive glacial lakes and scarred by slate mining, it is a fitting setting for a tale or two.

The cannibal witch of Llanberis

Canrig Bwt, the Cannibal Witch, was believed to lie in wait halfway up the Llanberis pass near a small stone bridge called Pont y Cromlech, today a popular climbing spot. Just to the right of the bridge is a stone altar dating back to 400 AD. Allegedly, the witch made her home beneath the altar and, after having sold her soul to the Devil, she began eating little children.

Pont y Cromlech, site of spooky Llanberis legends!

Mysterious Pont y Cromlech is a popular climbing spot today.

Reluctant for the children of Llanberis to become the witch’s next meal a brave young man stepped up to vanquish her once and for all. Armed with an iron sword, and blessed by both a Christian monk and a white (good) witch, the young man set off to meet his destiny.

Unfortunately, on arriving at Canrig Bwt’s lair he was so horrified by what he saw he froze in terror. Slowly, terror gave way to rage, and the brave young man flung himself at the witch with all his might. This is what happened next:

“The blessed sword, with holy sprigs and iron stopped the witch in her tracks, about a foot away. She stood still, unable to move he lifted the sword and severed the neck from the body. Her eyes still glowing in her head as it rolled down the mountainside.”

The generous Tylwyth Teg

With Canrig out of the picture the parents of Llanberis could breathe easy again. However, there was still the problem of the Tylwyth Teg, the fairies; they were rather fond of stealing away unbaptised babies!

Unlike Canrig, the fairies treated stolen children kindly and almost always left their own ugly (only by fairy standards because, to humans, fairies are always very beautiful) children in their place to make up for the loss.

On the whole, Welsh fairies are reputed to be fair if rather mischievous beings; they also have a reputation for generosity. Another local Llanberis legend explains:

“On dark, misty mornings a friend of hers would go to a particular spot in Cwmglas Hollow with a jugful of sweet milk and a clean towel, and place them on a stone. She would then return, and find the jug empty, with money placed beside it.”

Those hoping to cash in on the legend will be disappointed. To this day, few – if any – are party to the knowledge of where exactly Cwmglas Hollow is. Some think it is a climbers’ cottage called Cwm Glas Mawr in the Llanberis Pass (quite close to Canrig’s old haunt at Pont y Cromlech) but, like the fairies, no one is sure if it even exists at all.

Do you know of any other Llanberis legends? If you do, we’d love to hear them. Tweet us here or post on our Facebook page. We’re always keen to learn more about our village and we’ll share our favourites!

Images: Dolbadarn Castle courtesy of Gary Platt via Flickr 2014, Pont y Cromlech courtesy of Eric Jones via Wikimedia Commons.