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Getting to castles from Holyhead/Where to stay

Sydney, Australia
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Getting to castles from Holyhead/Where to stay

In September, our family of 3 plans to catch the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead. Our friends from near Liverpool are coming down to the area to collect us and takeus to their home for a few days. We would like to try to visit some castles independently first and have earmarked Beaumaris and also hopefully Caenarfon, Conwy and Harlech Castles.

As we will be relying on public transport/taxis, where would you suggest we stay and how would we get to the castles from there please?

My husband is very interested in this so how long do you think we would need to visit these castles please as i am unsure how long it takes to get to them all? He has said that he would be pleased even if we could only see Beaumaris but I would love it if we could manage to see more.

Thank you.

11 replies to this topic
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1. Re: Getting to castles from Holyhead/Where to stay

Since no one else has responded so far I shall give my thoughts but there are others with more local knowledge than me who I´m sure will post soon.

Holyhead is not a good base. If it were me I would see Beaumaris en route to staying at Caernarfon to visit the castle there and then go to Harlech from there the next day. On your way to Liverpool you could easily stop off for a few hours in Conwy to see the castle there.

Alternatively, Liverpool - or much better Chester - would be a good base for day trips to all these castles except Harlech.

If you have to choose between the castles on your list I would opt for Caernarfon and Conwy. Harlech is impressive but not easy to get to and Beaumaris, though reckoned to be the most perfect in design of all the castles ,is not as impressive to look at or visit.

Edited: 06 February 2012, 13:15
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2. Re: Getting to castles from Holyhead/Where to stay

Bump.... Can no one else help the OP?

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Getting to castles from Holyhead/Where to stay

Thank you for your suggestions. We are happy to visit Beaumaris on the first day and then visit the other castles on the way up to Liverpool the next day with our friends - they are coming down in their car to collect us. Once we leave the ferry in Holyhead , how would we get to Beaumaris by public transport please?

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4. Re: Getting to castles from Holyhead/Where to stay

Beaumaris is a problem by public transport. Google maps "get directions" suggests any train from Holyhead that stops at Llanfairpwll... followed by a taxi (quite a distance and not sure there is a taxi rank at that station) to Beaumaris.

anglesey.gov.uk/transport-and-roads/…

shows that bus 4 or X4 goes from Holyhead to Llangefni and that the bus 50 goes from Llangefni to Beaumaris - but the latter one runs infrequently and not at suitable times.

My best suggestion is Holyhead to Caernarfon (train to Bangor, bus to Caernarfon). Visit Caernarfon castle that day. Stay overnight. Next day go by bus to Porthmadoc then train to Harlech. Return to Caernarfon for the night.

Friends from Liverpool pick you up there and they will certainly be able to call off at Conwy on the way back and if they come early enough you could even go back over onto Anglesey to see Beaumaris.

Alternatively, persuade Liverpool friends to pick you up at Holyhead and offer to pay one night´s B&B for them if they will drive you to the 4 castles over a couple of days. Much simpler

Edited: 07 February 2012, 15:57
Cortlandt Manor, NY
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5. Re: Getting to castles from Holyhead/Where to stay

I respectfully disagree that the best base for castle watching is Caernafon. Probably the most convenient is Menai Bridge or Bangor. The three northern castles on Edward's "Iron Ring" are Caernafon, Beaumaris, and Conwy. Bangor is almost exactly between Caernafon and Conwy and just across the Menai Strait from Beaumaris. They were located about a day's march for a medieval foot soldier apart. That's about 30 minutes by car. Caernaon is the most impressive. It is large and intimidating and the royal seat of Prince Charles. I doubt that her ever spent the night there since it has had no roof since the 1600s. Beaumaris is regarded as the most impregnable of the fighting castles since it has several walls of defenses. It is much larger than the others but looks smaller because the funds ran out before the towers were erected to their full height. The war with Wales was over before the castle was finished. It was tested in battle only during the War of the Roses and held out for years with only 23 defenders. Apparently the towers were high enough. Conwy is the best preserved of all the 13th century castles. It is possible to walk around most of the city on the castle walls. The preservation lies not in the UKs love of antiquities but because the main highway to Liverpool bypassed the town. It was tested only during the Cromwell rebellion. Harlech castle is a couple of hours distant from the first three. Welsh law decrees that "Sons of Harlech" must be sung at least once in every movie about Wales.

All this being said. Stay in Bangor. Hire a car and driver for a couple of days and visit all three castles. Each should take you half a day of exploration. No need for a tour guide.

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6. Re: Getting to castles from Holyhead/Where to stay

With respect CaptOlaf there are several slight inaccuracies in your comments. Conwy is now much pleasanter to walk around since the tunnel was built but it has always been well preserved even when the A55 went straight through the middle of the town. Also, it is confusing to call the coastal dual carriageway the road to Liverpool. Though it does connect ultimately with the M53 up the Wirral it is generally considered to go to Chester or to link with the M56 to Manchester.

Caernarfon Castle is not a royal residence. It has not been so since the Middle Ages and is never referred to as the seat of the Prince of Wales. Most would consider Caernarfon to be the best preserved of the Welsh Castles if only because it has more roofed areas.

Bangor and Menai Bridge were not recommended as places to stay because it is much more atmospheric to spend the night in the shadow of a medieval castle in a town such as Caernarfon or Conwy. I lived in the area for more than a decade and would never suggest Bangor as a base when there are so many other much more scenic alternatives

And as for the comment re Men of Harlech (note Men not Sons) I presume that was tongue in cheek......If you are getting information from the Ports of Call info from cruise ships take them with a pinch of salt

Edited: 21 September 2012, 10:50
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7. Re: Getting to castles from Holyhead/Where to stay

With the advent of the A55 it doesn't matter where you stay along the North Wales coast, the journey time between all these places is less than hour.

The castle in Conwy was well preserved before the A55 was even thought of, and it would never have been knocked down to make way for a road.

Two tubes were created to take the A55 under the river and a "by product." Of the construction work was the Conwy Marina.

Bangor is very close to Caernarfon , closer to Caernarfon than it is to Conwy,so I cannot see the advantage of staying in Bangor over Caernarfon.

Better to choose your accomodation to suit your taste and budget , wherever you stay getting to and from each castle will not be a problem, either by car or public transport.

I am not an historian, but the War of the Roses saw Lancashire, the Red Rose fighting with Yorkshire , the White Rose.

As far as I know their scraps took place in England, not sure if they tried to conquer Beaumaris.

Edited: 21 September 2012, 13:32
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8. Re: Getting to castles from Holyhead/Where to stay

With the advent of the A55 it doesn't matter where you stay along the North Wales coast, the journey time between all these places is less than hour.

The castle in Conwy was well preserved before the A55 was even thought of, and it would never have been knocked down to make way for a road.

Two tubes were created to take the A55 under the river and a "by product." Of the construction work was the Conwy Marina.

Bangor is very close to Caernarfon , closer to Caernarfon than it is to Conwy,so I cannot see the advantage of staying in Bangor over Caernarfon.

Better to choose your accomodation to suit your taste and budget , wherever you stay getting to and from each castle will not be a problem, either by car or public transport.

london
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9. Re: Getting to castles from Holyhead/Where to stay

why all the discussion on a post from February? ... the OP will be long gone by now

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10. Re: Getting to castles from Holyhead/Where to stay

The OP was coming in September so probably resurrected in case had a last minute look at advice. I corrected CaptOlaf's inaccuracies for the sake of others who might have a similar query and who are not familiar with the area or British history. It seems Leuca had the same intentions.

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