News from Wales Editor and keen camper Lisa Baker, who lives in South Wales, recently took a trip to North East Wales to experience North Wales life for herself – complete with husband Mark and little dog, Honey
I’ve long promised our North Wales Media Correspondent, Martyn, and our North Wales Web Designers, DesignWeb, that I’d visit them ‘soon’ – the chance to review a new TomTom GO Camper and explore another campsite for Camping in Britain, seemed a perfect opportunity to explore North East Wales. Here’s some of the local businesses we found on our travels:
As adult campers with a fairly large tent, we needed an electric pitch on a dog friendly site, with electric hook up and easy access from the A55 after a long trek from South Wales to North (guided by a new TomTom we were reviewing). Rhuallt Country Park was perfectly situated, adult only, dog friendly and ironically also the cheapest site we received a quote from – making it a no-brainer.
I’m pleased to report that the site was brilliant, with a warm welcome from really friendly warden, Nigel. Our well-manicured flat pitch was set in lovely scenery, and the small dog walking area where dogs could run off-lead was much appreciated by Honey. Facilities were absolutely immaculate, and this is definitely one of the best sites we have stayed at. My full review for Camping in Britain will follow!
The White House Restaurant and rooms is situated on site at Rhuallt. This offers a much higher standard of food than you would expect to see at your average campsite restaurant. With most mains at around the £15 mark, prices were also higher than the average on-site bar, but this is a first class restaurant and the food reflects this.
Everything oozes class here, from the decor to the welcome – and this extends to the food. This is such an upmarket venue, we were really surprised to find that the plush bar area was dog friendly, we were welcome to eat in our jeans and Honey was welcome to join us.
The waiter brought over a bowl of water and some dog treats for Honey, who was just content to sit at our feet while we enjoyed a 2 course earlybird special, just £14.95 for two delicious courses. The homemade chicken pie ranks as one of the nicest pies ever, accompanied by hand cut chips, which were to die for! We chose to have very naughty profiteroles for dessert – completely blew the diet again, but absolutely worth it, and beautifully presented.
This was, from start to end, an incredibly civilised camping and dining experience – I’m 52 and don’t like to rough it, so we will definitely, DEFINITELY be back!
I have always heard good things about Prestatyn, with it’s sweeping sands, clean sandy beaches and a lovely, long promenade. It didn’t disappoint.
Unfortunately, the weather in the North was significantly colder than the South, and we had only packed shorts and t-shirts – with no jumper or coat between us!
Our walk was short due to our inappropriate dress for the temperature – but memorable. Honey couldn’t go on the blue flag beach – but was more than welcome to walk with us along the prom.
We encountered a team from the RNLI who persuaded Mark to join as a supporter – and to be honest, I’m glad they did, while the rest of us are enjoying the sunshine, lifeguards, the coastguard and the RNLI are constantly at watch, keeping the Welsh coastlines that we love so much safe. They were happy to discuss the local area with us and frankly were so friendly that they were perfect ambassadors for the region.
We concluded our short visit with a trip to the Red Boat ice cream parlour, which serves their own gelato ice cream, made in Anglesey. Again, the service was excellent, the ice cream delicious and the young people manning the parlour were really friendly, cheerful and helpful. Red boat has a number of ice cream parlours across the region, but I hadn’t heard of them before.
Businesses like theirs are the reason I started News from Wales and North Wales Business, we have so much talent, creativity and hospitality in Wales – and Prestatyn beach has it in spades!
After a quick trip to buy some much-needed jumpers in the retail park, we met up with Martyn, one of our North Wales correspondents, in Torello Lounge. Torello lounge, an upmarket coffee shop, come bar, come diner is one of several dog friendly eating places in the town, and offered an excellent selection of snacks and drinks at reasonable prices. However, still full from the ice cream, I was content with my favourite pink grapefruit gin.
Honey was made incredibly welcome by the staff and the friendly bar service was impressive.
Prestatyn itself was also memorable, thanks largely to an eclectic collection of independent shops – a refreshing change.
This is definitely a region where dogs are accepted as part of the family – and as Honey is a big part of ours, that’s important to us.
Our 10am meeting with Paul from DesignWeb outside the stunning cathedral meant we had time to grab a breakfast sandwich on Saturday morning – and The Farm Shop Delicatessen was happy to oblige. The lovely server (also from South Wales) proceeded to make what my husband described as ‘the best breakfast roll EVER’ – absolutely massive! My humble bacon bap was also delicious – no skimping on the bacon portion, and the bacon was lovely and thick, too. Very friendly service, highly recommended.
Paul took us on a walking tour of the town, taking in the pretty river scenery – the city seems even smaller than our normal haunt of St. Davids, although it is technically larger. Not many shops and limited parking, but full of character, charm and friendly people.
We concluded our walk with a delicious coffee, courtesy of Jacob’s Ladder at the top of the street – although we had to sit outside with little Honey.
I hadn’t realised how close we were to Conwy – where one of my closest old school friends lives. We hadn’t seen each other since the age of 16, but speak regularly. It was amazing to catch up in person.
However, that wasn’t our only reason for visiting this very pretty North Wales town. Every local we had spoken to in North Wales told us: ‘you must visit Conwy’.
When we got there, it is easy to see why. Everything from the old town walls, to the narrow streets, to the castle and the bridge you cross on the way in is simply beautiful.
It’s also very dog friendly, with many shops allowing dogs inside and some even have bowls and dog treats at the ready. As we wandered in and out of the shops, taking turns to hold Honey, many of the Conwy shop assistants invited Honey inside too.
Our overall impression of the town was, again, we must come back, particularly after our fantastic lunch with my friend at L’s coffee and bookshop. I enjoyed a local delicacy, Lamb Oggy – awesome – and again, Honey was made more than welcome by the friendly staff.
Time flew as we caught up and we realised time was about to expire on our ticket, so hubby headed back to the car park to buy another ticket. On arriving back, a few minutes late, he immediately bought another ticket, then returned to the car to find an overly zealous council car park attendant had already slapped a ticket on the car – not even 15 minutes after the previous ticket had expired. This was really disappointing, as he had gone back specially to put another ticket on the car and wasn’t exactly long overdue. £50 quid for 13 minutes, a few minutes of which had been spent queuing to buy another ticket – cheers Conwy Council.
It leaves a somewhat bitter taste after what was otherwise a lovely day, so if you plan to visit and park in one of the council car parks, make sure you don’t go a minute over. Nobody minds being fined for being seriously late, but this kind of zeal is a bit off putting for tourists. Shame, because the friendly little businesses who pay rates in the town work so hard to welcome tourists. The town deserves better.
My friends, who live in the town and actually work for the Council, were quite upset. As for us – there is a 50% discount for paying within 14 days so I’ve paid my £25 – issued after just 13 minutes, this takes their excessive fee down to just under £2 a minute.
I asked Conwy Council for a statement, which in itself took three attempted phone calls before I managed to reach the press office. Somewhat unsurprisingly, their short but swift response was as characterful as their parking attendants:
“Parking enforcement only affects drivers who break the parking regulations. However, if someone believes they have been issued with a penalty charge notice in error they should submit an appeal, details of how to do so are on the ticket.”
There we are then.
A trip to this part of Wales would not be complete without a drive along the length of Llandudno prom – and we enjoyed every minute.
Sadly, as we were heading back to South Wales that evening, we didn’t have time to really explore the area and it’s beautiful beaches. It felt like an all-too-short trip, with much of the area undiscovered.
We will, however, return soon – and try to book some time off to explore more.
So is North East Wales dog friendly?
Actually, with the exception of Conwy Council’s parking attendants, the region is friendly full stop.
Dogs, kids, adults – everyone is welcome, this area has some of the friendliest locals in the UK. It’s easy to see what makes this area so popular with tourists. We’ll be back.