Caernarfon Castle is the largest and most imposing of the ring of castles constructed by Edward 1 when he conquered north Wales. The building of the castle and town walls commenced a few months after the last native Prince of Wales, Llywelyn, was killed in December 1282.
Edward 11, born in the castle precincts in 1284, was created the first English Prince of Wales in 1304. Since then, the title has usually been given to the eldest son of the reigning monarch – Prince Charles was formally invested as Prince of Wales here on 1 July 1969. The castle, with its thick walls and angular towers, is said to resemble the city walls of Constantinople and is well worth exploring before taking a walk beside the Menai Strait.
From the car park below the castle, bear left and cross Aber Swing Bridge, then turn right along a lane. There is a grass verge
most of the way and great views of the Isle of Anglesey’s coast. Before Telford’s suspension bridge over the Menai Strait was built in 1826, the only way for people to travel to and from the island was by ferry. During strong winds at low tide, it could be difficult to steer a safe passage – 55 people drowned in 1785, when their ferry ran aground on a sand bar halfway to Aber Menai.
Opposite Abermenai Point, the lane enters Foryd Bay, where, on the tip of the opposite promontory, Lord Newborough built Fort Belan to guard the Menai Strait during the Napoleonic Wars. On your left, across a field, stands the lonely, ancient Llanfaglan Church, the burial place of unidentified people who have drowned at sea.
Foryd Bay attracts many birds and, in June, you could spot swans, cormorants, goosanders, shelducks, oystercatchers, and redshanks. Pass a picnic area and, after the lane bears left, take the first lane on the left. Just after a right bend, climb a stone stile on your right and walk ahead through fields to a gate and road. Turn left and take the first lane on your right.
Welsh Highland Railway
Immediately after passing under a bridge, go left at a sign for Lon Eifion. Cross the Welsh Highland Railway line and turn right along the cycle path/walkway. Steam trains may pass you on their journeys to and from Porthmadog. HRH Queen Elizabeth II took a short train ride to Dinas on 27 April 2010, after visiting Caernarfon Castle. The path passes between fields and woods to emerge a short distance from your start in Caernarfon.
HOW TO GET THERE
Caernarfon is on the A487, between Bangor and Porthmadog. Buses run from Bangor and Porthmadog railway stations.
FIND OUT MORE
Open daily (except Christmas), times vary according to the season. Adults £5.75, concessions £4.85, family £15.35.
Black Boy Inn
North Gate, Caernarfon LL55 1RW
Cae’r Efail Farm Llanfaglan, Caernarfon LL54 5RE
Farmhouse with panoramic views of surrounding countryside and Menai Strait.