Nowadays a country park and nature reserve, the Great Orme consists of rocks formed in the carboniferous period when much of Wales was covered by a shallow sea.
From the Cenotaph in Prince Edward Square in Llandudno, follow the signs for Happy Valley Gardens, where you take a winding route, marked by summit discs to the top right-hand gate of the gardens. Beyond the gate, it’s worthwhile diverting right from the stepped path for brilliant views over Llandudno Bay.
You may spot some Kashmir goats hereabouts, which are descendants of a pair given to Queen Victoria by the Shah of Persia. They have roamed wild here for 100 years and, apart from during the rut, billies and nannies wander in separate herds.
Rejoin the waymarked route and, at a signpost, take the path marked to St Tudno’s Church. After a farm, follow an enclosed path to a lane by the church.
Turn left and take a grassy path to a track, where you turn right to reach a wall on your left. Look out for fieldfares, redwings and snow buntings, which migrate from northern Europe in winter to feed on the Orme’s largely frost-free grassland and heath.
After turning a corner where there are huge, glacial rocks, continue beside the wall, passing an area of limestone pavement, to another bend with breathtaking views of the Conwy estuary.
At the next bend, where the wall rises to the summit, take a path uphill to pass a fenced heathland restoration area. Before the road, bear right on a path, soon descending beside a right-hand fence to emerge opposite the 4,000-year-old copper mines.
Bear right on the track and go through a gate to a lane. Turn right, noting Cromlech Road where you can divert to a Neolithic burial chamber. Follow the lane around a corner, then immediately go left and down a railed path to a road. Cross over, and go right on a road carrying the Great Orme Tramway. At traffic lights, bear left on a lane to a left bend, where you turn right on a path, soon forking right to Pen Dinas Iron Age hill fort. Here, on the edge of a precipice lies a large rectangular stone, known as the Rocking Stone. Legend has it that Druids used the stone for testing people accused of misdeeds. If the accused was able to stand on it and make it rock, they were believed to be innocent. If the rock didn’t move, the poor wretch was thrown over the cliff.
Return to the lower path, back to Happy Valley Gardens.
How to get there
Take the A55 to J19, then follow the A470 to Llandudno. There is pay and display roadside parking near the Cenotaph.
Find out more
Tourist Information Centre
Library Building, Mostyn Street, Llandudno LL30 2RP
Old Road, Llandudno LL30 2NB
Llandudno’s oldest pub, dating back to when the town was built.
7 Church Walks, Llandudno LL30 2HD
Specialising in local seafood.
Marine Drive, Great Orme’s Head, Llandudno LL30 2XD
Beautiful rooms with sea views.