Sunday, 19 January 2014


Everyone has a particular childhood holiday which stands out in their memory, and for me it is the holiday I spent with my parents in Llandudno when I was a teenager.  The main reason Llandudno made such an impression on me is that, growing up in the merely hilly Cornwall, I had never seen a mountain before, and Llandudno has magnificent views towards the outer reaches of Snowdonia, as well as an impressive peak of its own: the Great Orme, which looks across at its kid brother the Little Orme, with the graceful curved sweep of the resort’s seafront separating the two.  There can be few coastal experiences in Britain more exhilarating than standing on top of the Great Orme on a sunny day with the deep blue sea stretching out in all directions (only marred by the sight of the dreaded windmills out at sea).  

View from the Great Orme

Another young girl who enjoyed family holidays in Llandudno was one Alice Liddell.  Her father was the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and one of his colleagues was the writer Lewis Carroll.  Carroll was a close friend of the family, and was very fond of Alice, who was the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.  The Liddell family used to spend their holidays in a large house on Llandudno's West Shore, and in 1933 a statue of the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland was unveiled on the West Shore.  Unfortunately, as a sad sign of the times the statue was vandalised in 2012 and removed for restoration.  However, determined not to be defeated in its quest to make the most of its Alice connections, the town has created an "Alice trail" marked by wooden figures of characters from the stories.   

The resort of Llandudno was developed in the 1850s by the Mostyn family, and straddles a piece of land in the shadow of the Great Orme.  There are two "shores", the North Shore, where most of the attractions are to be found, and the quieter West Shore which is known for its wonderful sunsets.  The resort retains its Victorian character to this day, with its two-mile promenade, its 700m long pier and the shops with their elegant cast iron and glass colonnades.  The Professor Codman Show near the entrance to the pier is believed to be the oldest Punch and Judy in existence, and is a must both for present-day children and for adults wanting to relive their childhoods.  The Llandudno Museum has photographs and exhibits on local history, while the Oriel Mostyn gallery has regular exhibitions.  

Looking towards the Great Orme
As for the Great Orme itself, the most popular way of getting to the top is via the vintage Tramway dating from 1902 which trundles up the mountain in two stages, sending sheep scattering as it goes.  At the Halfway Station there is a fascinating exhibition on the history of the Tramway.  For those with a head for heights, an alternative way of ascending the mountain is to take to the the Great Orme Aerial Cable Cars.  If you prefer to stay car-bound you can take the scenic 4-mile Marine Drive around the base of the mountain.  For the particularly energetic, it is possible to ascend on foot.  It is well worth the effort of getting up there because the views from the top are magnificent.  On a clear day it is possible to see as far as the Isle of Man, 57 miles away.  There are refreshments available on top, a copper mine dating from the Bronze Age which is open to the public and a medieval church dedicated to St Tudno, from whom the town gets its name: Llan (holy enclosure) of Tudno.

View from Great Orme looking east

Church of St Tudno
For a list of events in Llandudno and surrounding area, see here.

Map of the area.

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