Llanrwst sits in the beautiful Conwy Valley reached either along the A470 or across the River Conwy from Trefriw. It is no longer the only bridging point of the river Conwy, yet it still wears an air of importance as the market town for the Conwy Valley. Pont Fawr, the steep and elegant stone bridge designed by Inigo Jones, is however still the town’s focal point. The 16th century bridge is so narrow as to allow single file traffic only, thus causing many a heated argument at the top of the bridge and bringing a new meaning to the words “cross over the bridge”.
Inigo Jones also designed another of Llanrwst’s memorable buildings the 17th century Gwydir Chapel which houses one of Wales’ most important historic artifacts. The Chapel is to be found down a narrow street, past the restored row of Almshouses, in the grounds of St Grwst’s Church, which overlooks the river Conwy on the town bank of the river. The Chapel was built for the powerful Wynne family, whose home was just across the river at Gwydir Castle, and it contains a massive stone coffin, the remaining half of the sarcophagus in which Llywelyn the Great’s body was layed to rest. Magnificent portrait brasses and an effigy of a knight in armour accompany the old cold empty coffin.
Adjacent to Pont Fawr this time on the western bank of the Conwy is probably the most photographed building in Llanrwst a 15th century cottage, Ty Hwnt i’r Bont, once a courthouse and now a tea room owned by the National Trust. You may be tempted to enter and enjoy a cream tea, or to have a picnic on the banks of the Conwy and feed the ducks. On this side of the river you will also find the Llanrwst sports fields which when nature chooses become Llanrwst’s water sports fields as the Conwy can flood at the blink of mother nature’s tear filled eye.
Still on the west bank but wisely set further back from the river stands Gwydir Castle, for centuries the seat of the aforesaid influential Wynn family. The house has a fine sequence of Tudor rooms, though much of the house was rebuilt in the 19th century. The current owners are undertaking an extensive programme to restore Gwydir Castle to its former glory, and have recently obtained the panelling from the Dining Room which left Gwydir in the 1920’s and was discovered in store in New York.
The upper Conwy Valley is flanked by steep forested hillside giving way to table-top plateaus of farmland and forest park. This is the country of hidden valleys, lakes, and stunning views towards the glacially formed massifs of the Carneddau and Glyderau, Siabod – the mountain with the largest footprint in Europe – and down to the fecund agricultural lowlands of the tidal Conwy River.
Rich in industrial heritage – mining, agriculture, forestry and tourism – the area is now a burgeoning foodie haven and a draw to adventure sports and nature enthusiasts.
But what of the hidden industries of the upper Conwy valley? The passions and pursuits of the communities, undertaken not for the benefit of attracting tourists or profit but as a creative expression of people and place?
Yes, the area is home to stunning landscapes, attractive yet controversial castles and historic estates, and a fantastic array of outdoor pursuits, but more than that it is home to the diverse and exciting outward expressions of modern life in this region; independent businesses, craft workers, performance artists, environmental artists, food producers, social service providers, farm diversifiers, community groups, digital producers, and events.
If you, local or visitor, want to experience the region for real – those things that go on whether or not tourists are there to witness and pay for them – then get in touch,
Call us, or check out our website for more information.
tel: +44 (0)1492 643 533