Journeying between Chester to Caernarfon.
Between Chester and Caernarfon the interest is mainly historical – the “Iron Ring”, a line of castles built by the 13th-century king, Edward I. Magnificent buildings that capture all the magic of those mediaeval days when one can all but see knights and damsels, magicians and jesters, kings and queens.
Their purpose, however, was much darker. They were strictly royal business, protecting the kingdom from rabble-rousing revolutionaries. Edward had faced a couple of uprisings led by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd so he decided to give the locals something to think about in terms of who was boss round here. He built what has become known as the Iron Ring of castles – four fortresses in North Wales. Beaumaris, Harlech, Conwy and Caenarfon. They were designed to cower the querulous Welsh into submission.
This touring route will take you to two of them.
Click on the map for a larger version
For full details go to the Wales Region page . . .
Itinerary planner Chester to Caernarfon
Route 1 and 1A on the map.
Conwy Castle Conwy Castle is a gritty, dark stoned fortress which has the rare ability to evoke an authentic medieval atmosphere.
Caernarfon Castle A brute of a fortress. Caernarfon Castle’s pumped-up appearance is unashamedly muscle-bound and intimidating.
Cwm Idwal National Nature Reserve Walk takes you into a normally inaccessible upland environment, and through beautiful ice-sculpted Cwm Idwal – a bowl-shaped hollow.
In Chester find your way to St Martin’s Way, part of the city’s ring road.
0.0 mi 53.1897, -2.8951 At the intersection of St Martin’s Way and New Crane St, the A548, s/p “Queensberry A548”. Turn into New Crane St.
4.9 mi 53.2165, -2.9971 Take the left lane to merge on to the A494 s/p “Q’ferry A494 / Conwy (A55)”.
3.6 mi 53.1876, -3.0627 Continue on to the North Wales Expressway, the A55.
34.9 mi 53.2802, -3.8052 At Junction 18 take the exit s/p “Conwy (A547) / Deganwy A546”.
0.2 mi At the r/bout take the 3rd exit s/p “Deganwy A546 / Conwy / etc”
0.5 mi Go str. thru one r/bout and at the next r/bout take the 1st exit s/p Conwy A547.
Cross over the Conwy River and Conwy Castle is immediately on your left.
1.3 mi 53.2803, -3.8279 For parking, go past the castle and through the flush r/bout. Immediately past the r/bout turn l. into Rose Hill St. The Bridge Inn will be on your r. at that turn. There’s a carpark on the left.
1.4 mi 53.2887, -3.8525 To leave Conwy follow Rose Hill St to the i/s with the North Wales Expressway. Turn l. s/p “Bangor A55 (A5)”.
Expert navigator checkpoint: You will shortly go through a very narrow gateway in one of the old walls.
4.5 mi 53.2048, -4.1055 At Junction 11 you can either just keep on keeping on along the A55 and the A487 into Caenarfon, but I prefer the back roads so as an alternative take the exit s/p to Bangor / Betws-y-Coed and at the r/bout take the 1st exit s/p “Betws-y-Coed” and “Bethesda 2” on to the A5.
If you wish to take the Cwn Idwal National Nature Reserve Walk: Remain on the A5 to Bethesda
0.1 mi At the r/bout take the 3rd exit s/p to “Llanberis A4244”, and “Pentir 3”.
Expert navigator checkpoint: Just after that turn there’s a service area on your right.
3.2 mi 53.1797, -4.1583 Go str ahd at the r/bout on to the B4366 s/p to “Caernarfon B4366”
5.4 mi 53.1434, -4.2671 At the r/bout in Caernarfon take the 1st exit s/p “Porthmadog / Bangor / A487”.
To get to the castle and parking:
At the large r/bout shortly after the instruction above, go underneath the over bridge. The cream and green building ahead of you is a carpark building. Take the street on the right hand side of that building. That means you will pass it on your left. The street is called Penllyn but you’ll have to be quick to see that little sign low down on your r.
At the T i/s at the far end of the street (the Harp Inn will on your r.) turn l.
Drive to the end of that street (traffic lights) and you come out into a large open area with Caernarfon Castle on your right.
Turn right into Castle Square and stay close to the shops on your r. – yes you can, it is allowed, but it is a shared pedestrian space.
At the far end of the line of shops you can either turn left and (keeping the castle on your right) go down to the State Quay carpark on the waterfront
turn r. That means you will have a castle wall on your left.
There’s a small car park along that street on your r. It’s closer to the castle entrance.
The Bar Bach on the r. claims to be the smallest bar in Wales. Probably is.