Posted on 21/03/2018 by David
With some of the UK’s most magical scenery, plenty of local culture and a host of famous sites, North Wales is the perfect place for a getaway.
Boasting some of the area’s most incredible landscapes and truly unique places to visit, the Conwy Valley should be at the top of your list when it comes to discovering what our region has to offer.
We’ve put together a list of some of the most surprising and interesting facts about places in and around the Conwy Valley to inspire your visit – featuring everything from mines to zip lines, goats to ghosts.
1. Britain’s smallest house
You’ve heard about our magnificent castles and grand stately homes, but did you know that North Wales is also home to the smallest house in Britain?
The house was occupied until 1900, with the last resident being a Mr Jones, who was over 6 feet tall; he can’t have had too much room to manoeuvre, considering the house measures just 72 by 122 inches!
Today, the house is larger than life, painted bright red and neatly tucked into a row of houses overlooking Conwy’s beautiful marina.
2. Welsh Wonderland
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are among the most famous children’s books in the world, but few know that Llandudno played a part in inspiring the world of the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit and Queen of Hearts.
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson based the titular character on Alice Liddell, whose family owned a home on Llandudno’s West Shore.
Explore via the Alice Town Trails app, which guides visitors to each of the amazing wooden character statues.
3. Gwydir’s ghosts
Just outside Llanrwst, Gwydir Castle is considered one of the most haunted sites in the world.
The grand house, which predates the War of the Roses, was built by the Wynn family and hosted many distinguished and important historical figures, including kings Charles I and George V.
The most commonly reported spectre is that of a young woman who apparently haunts the North Wing; many believe this to the ghost of a young murdered maid whose body was hidden within the walls!
4. High speed adventures
Head to Bethesda and you could find yourself speeding through the air on the world’s fastest zip line at Zip World!
Here you’ll find the longest zip line in Europe, which delivers not just an unforgettable daredevil experience, but truly jaw-dropping views out over the valley and Anglesey.
Recently improved, zip line Velocity 2 is made up of 4 separate lines so the whole family can get the adrenaline pumping! With a top speed of 125mph, this is certainly not one for the faint-hearted!
5. Spectacular surf
For more world-beating adventures, look no further than Surf Snowdonia. The world’s first inland surfing lagoon is nestled amongst stunning scenery, and offers experienced surfers and first-timers alike access to fantastic waves, complemented by a host of on-land facilities.
The machine-powered lagoon can generate waves up to two-metres high, which are the highest man-made waves in the world. Expert instructors put on classes for every level of experience, for surfers young and old.
If surfing’s not your thing check out the Crash & Splash lagoon, or simply grab a snack at the Surf Side Café.
6. Zombie-free zone
Conwy Castle is one of the grandest castles in Wales, but as well as being a superb historical site and example of medieval architecture, it’s apparently a pretty good base for surviving a zombie attack!
At least, that’s according to Max Brookes, author of World War Z. The cult novel, turned into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Brad Pitt, imagines Conwy as the centre of the government resistance against an attack from the undead, as they wouldn’t be able to breach the castle’s walls and fortifications!
Hopefully this isn’t a theory we’ll have to test out…
7. Wonderful walls
Conwy’s strong structure goes beyond the castle itself; it’s one of the very best examples of a walled town in the UK. The walls here are the most intact in the country, and attract history buffs from around the world.
Discover the secrets of the magnificent castle and take a wander around the walls – some sections are free, and others require an entrance fee.
A long-standing nickname for people born within Conwy is ‘jackdaw’, after the birds that sit atop the walls!
8. International goats
Llandudno’s Great Orme is one of the town’s defining landmarks, but it’s the limestone headland’s exotic inhabitants that are really something special; the Orme has been home to a herd of Kashmiri goats for over 100 years.
After Squire Christopher Tower of Brentwood used his goats to make a cashmere shawl, George VI was so impressed he started a herd in Windsor.
Two of these royal goats were brought by Major General Sir Savage Mostyn to the Orme, where they roam free to this day.
9. Ancient treasures
As well as royal livestock, the Great Orme is home to a Guinness World Record! In 2004 the mine here was named the largest Bronze Age copper mine in the world.
With over 5 miles of subterranean tunnels and caves, the area was first mined about 4,000 years ago.
After falling into disuse, the mines were uncovered again in 1987 in an incredible archaeological discovery. Today, they are open to visitors from March until October.
10. World-class gardens
Overlooking the Conwy Valley, the picturesque Bodnant Garden is a beloved place in North Wales, bursting with lush lawns, leafy trees and tropical flowers from all over the world.
Though the garden and award-winning Welsh Food Centre are well-known, fewer know that Bodnant has been a trailblazer in all things botany for quite some time.
Among the records it holds, the garden was home to the first laburnum arch (built in 1880), welcomed Britain’s first magnolias in the late 1800s from China, and saw completely unique rhododendron hybrids grown here from the 1920s.
Today a National Trust property, Bodnant is still home to plant species from around the world and is a fantastic day out in the great outdoors.
Inspired by these Conwy Valley secrets? There’s plenty more to discover in North Wales all year round. Discover our collection of charming properties here and start planning your adventure today.
Images courtesy: Smallest House, Conwy by © Copyright Brian Deegan and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence. Llandudno Floral Clock by © Copyright Richard Hoare and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.