Llangollen – North Wales’ Hidden Gem

As part of our #AdeoOnTheRoad programme, we recently headed north from our native Cardiff up to the largely undiscovered area of North Wales.

Our base in North Wales was the stunningly beautiful and historic Ruthin Castle. Despite its rich history and atmospheric castle setting, our rooms were very modern and comfortable; typical of 4* quality British accommodation. The hotel also boasts excellent leisure facilities.

While up in North Wales, the team and I decided to take advantage of our picturesque surroundings and ventured up to the mountains of Snowdonia National Park where we were greeted by a thick blanket of snow – atypical of April but a stunning view nonetheless.

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Thomas in all his glory

After taking our snaps, we travelled to Llangollen – a quintessential and quaint Welsh market town in the heart of North Wales. To our surprise there was a special guest waiting for us at Llangollen Station – Thomas the Tank Engine himself!

After recovering from being star-struck, we became rather peckish and had food in a charming café named ‘Higgeldy Piggeldy’ where the service was fantastic and the food really hit the spot.

Next up on our itinerary for the day was to visit Plas Newydd – a beautiful gothic house fit with manicured gardens preserved since the 1800s; once home to two aristocratic women who received a stream of famous visitors over the years to their unpretentious home. The inside of the house was mostly untouched, except for insightful information documents that gave observers an idea of 17th century life in Llangollen and an insight in to the intriguing lives of the eccentric residents.

After a lovely day in Llangollen we retired back to Ruthin Castle and treated ourselves in the exceptional spa before a delicious 3-course meal at Manor Haus’ 5-star restaurant with rooms just a short walk away

Plas Newydd
Plas Newydd

(we also work with this property if you’re looking for something equally luxurious but a little more low-key than the castle accommodation) – after that it was safe to say we were ready for bed!

If you would like to experience Llangollen in all its glory, then be sure to enquire about one of our self-drive or coach tours featuring North Wales.

We hope to hear your very own North Wales stories soon!

Discover North Wales on the following tours:

Mountains and Medieval Fortresses (self-drive)

Wonders of Wales (small-group tour)

Castles, Coast and Celts (small-group tour)

Heart of Wales and England Tour (escorted coach tour)

Top Ten Visitor Destinations in Britain – Traveller’s Choice.

We’re often asked what Britain’s best visitor destinations are – but with three countries, dozens of bustling cities and expansive and contrasting areas of natural beauty to choose from, it’s not a question easily answered! So on this occasion we can dodge the question and look to you, the visitor, to answer it…

A major online review site has recently released their 2016 traveller’s choice awards – using a complex algorithm based both quality and quantity of local destination and attraction reviews by visitors over the last twelve months, Trip Advisor have compiled a top-ten list of UK destinations.  The list throws up some obvious choices, but also some real gems; so, as local travel experts, do we agree…?  Here’s the list, and our thoughts:

10. Manchester

Often overlooked by the international visitor, Manchester has so much to offer! Home to England’s leading soccer team (ManchesterUnited), the national soap opera (Coronation Street) and internationally renowned museums, shopping and nightlife, Manchester has something for everyone.

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  1. 9. Glasgow

Scotland’s second city was recently named as a top international destination for 2016, and with good reason.  A hub for modern Scottish culture, Glasgow also boasts grand Georgian architecture, world-class museums and hallmarks of Scotland’s industrial heritage.

8. Bath

One of our favourite spots in Britain and arguably England’s prettiest town, Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage city.  With elegant Regency architecture and a history which dates back to the Roman Empire, Bath is simply a must-visit for travellers exploring England.

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7. York

Another of adeo Travel’s choice destinations, set amidst the scenic Yorkshire Dales and Moors, York is simply packed with history – discover how the Vikings invaded, explore the cobbled Shambles, walk the medieval town walls & gates and visit Europe’s largest gothic cathedral at the masterpiece of York Minster.

6. Torquay

Possibly best known as the home of Basil Fawlty’s less-than hospitable hotel in John Cleese’s seventies sitcom, Torquay has experienced a resurgence in recent years; this pretty Devonshire harbour-town is at the heart of the “English Riviera” coastline and has the wild landscapes of the Dartmoor National Park on its doorstep.

5. Blackpool

Not one often requested by our international guests, Blackpool is a seaside resort on Northern England’s Lancashire coast. Home to an annual coloured lights festival, donkey-rides on the beach, traditional games arcades and the famous tower ballroom there’s no doubt the town holds a certain nostalgia for Briton’s and their childhood seaside holidays.wales_llandudno

4. Llandudno

A picturesque Victorian seaside resort on the North Wales coast, Llandudno boasts a beautiful sweeping bay, historic pier and elegant promenade not to mention Britain’s only cable-hauled tramway (which dates back to 1902) and the Great Orme headland and nature reserve.  And just a stone’s throw from Conwy Castle and the Snowdonia National Park, Llandudno is definitely one we’d recommend.

3. Liverpool

The home-town of the World’s best known pop group, the wealth of Beatles’ related cultural sites is enough to put Liverpool on the map; but the city has much more besides including two magnificent cathedrals, dozens of listed historic buildings, the famous Albert Docks and a rich maritime heritage.

2. Edinburgh

Scotland’s enchanting capital, Edinburgh offers architectural beauty, an ancient history, major Scottish political and heritage sites and a leading international cultural festival. The must-see Scotland destination and gateway to the renowned Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh deservedly holds the second spot of this top-ten.

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  1. 1. London

Britain’s top-rating location, incidentally, London also tops the list of international destinations.  A thriving metropolis, the English capital leads in terms of sport, politics, commerce and culture. Playing host to a wealth of historical and heritage landmarks, recognisable the world-over, London is truly a global destination and unsurprisingly features at the premier position of Britain’s top-ten visitor destinations.

Discover any of the above Britain destinations on one of adeo Travel’s self-drive tours or rail tours which can be entirely customised to suit your travel requirements and preferences.

Our Top Five Tips for your London Stay!

London should be on everyone’s bucket list but you could easily spend a couple of weeks in the city and still not see everything it has to offer. On your England trip, we understand that your time and budget in the English Capital may be limited so here are our own tips to make the very most of your visit to London!

Travel like a Londoner – Buy an Oyster Card.

Oyster Card and Tube Map
Oyster Card and Tube Map

With one of these in your back pocket you’ll travel London like a true local.  But “what is an Oyster Card?” I hear you say – basically it is a travel card which is valid for use on all of central London’s public transport networks, namely the busses, some over ground trains and of course the famous tube (underground rail network).  The card itself costs only a couple of pounds and then you pre-load it with credit which is deducted each time you use it.  The card is easily charged at any ticket office and is easy to use by simply swiping it at the barriers in the tube stations or at the dedicated pads on board a bus. And the best thing is that it will always charge you the best fares possible so if you’re using it all day it automatically stops charging you once you hit the rate of a normal full-day ticket!

Enjoy the free Museums!

British Museum, London
British Museum, London

They say that the best things in life are free and that’s certainly true when it comes to London’s museums.  Whilst London can be an expensive city, all of London’s publicly owned major art galleries and museums are totally free to enter.  So whatever your interests – whether it’s the faces of English Kings and Queens in the National Portrait Gallery, the ancient artefacts of the British and Natural History Museums, the latest gadgets in the Science Museum or the newly revamped Imperial War Museum make the most of this and explore some truly fascinating and world-class exhibitions!

Shop at the Markets.

Covent Garden Market, London
Covent Garden Market, London

There’s nothing quite like a London market – whether you’re in to vintage clothes, music, arts & crafts, gifts and souvenirs or simply to pick up something tasty for dinner that evening there’s a London market perfect for your purchase.  The atmosphere of the London street market is entirely unique, a bustle of activity with the local stall holders calling their prices and conversing in cockney rhyming slang.  They are a part of London life that’s fantastic to behold –  and of course, they are the best place to pick up a bargain or two.

See the Skyline of the City.

London Eye, London
London Eye, London

London is great from the ground but for some truly magnificent views of the vast cityscape in all its glory it is good to get above the rooftops.  And it’s easier than you might think – the London Eye which was originally built as a temporary structure to celebrate the turning of the Millennium remains the tallest observation wheel in Britain offering romantic views over the city from its enviable position on the South Bank of the river Thames directly opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.  And if that’s not high enough why not head over to the East of the city to the city’s most recent addition at the architectural masterpiece of the Shard, now Europe’s tallest building with a viewing platform some 800 feet above the ground.

Do the Open-Top Bus Tour

City Sightseeing Tour Bus - London
City Sightseeing Tour Bus – London

Like many major visitor destinations, there is an open-top bus tour operating in London.  And as in most cities the tour offers excellent value and a convenient way in which to see the major sites.  However in London the value is amplified – all of the major operators have combined to offer one ticket which includes three separate tour routes around this vast city, not to mention a complementary River Cruise on the Thames and various themed walking tours.  The tickets are valid for a 24 or 48hr period from the point of validation meaning your exploration can span two or more calendar days and the tours are overwhelmingly manned by live-guides in the main season ensuring you gain real personal insight on board.

Why not check out our London City packages or ask your adeo Travel agent regarding adding a London stay to your Self-Drive or Rail Tour of Britain.

Scotland’s Scenic Rail Journeys

The British invented the steam locomotive, constructed the first subway system in London and just recently we announced plans for a massive new high-speed line connecting the North and South of England.  Due to this long railing history, it’s little wonder that train-spotting is a popular past time and that we have a wealth of picturesque rail routes around our little island, not least in Scotland where the journeys have been rated amongst the most scenic in the world!

The West Highland Line

Glenfinnan Viaduct on the West highland Rail Line.
Glenfinnan Viaduct – West Highland Line.

Awarded “World’s Best Rail Journey” by the Wanderlust Travel Awards in 2009, the West Highland Railway Line in Scotland is undoubtedly one of the most scenic railway journeys in Britain.   Running from Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, to Fort William and then to harbour town Mallaig the train ride takes you from a cosmopolitan cityscape to the stark contrast of some of Britain’s most remote and untamed landscapes in the Scottish Highlands.  With work commencing on the line almost 125 years ago and with little money behind the project to build expensive bridges and tunnels, the line winds its way around sharp turns and along steep gradients as it navigates the dramatic Highland terrain.  The result today is a relaxing ride of awe-inspiring vistas.

The North Highland Line

Highland Train
Highland Train

Another of Scotland’s stunning rail journeys is the North Highland line between Inverness, capital of the Highlands, and the coastal port of the Kyle of Lochalsh.  This line passes even further north through Scotland’s Highland wilderness and has been likened to a three part orchestra passing firstly through gentle, pastoral hills near Inverness, then through the mountain scenery of Achnasheen with views of the Torridon Peaks before dropping to the seascapes of Lochcarron and its coastal villages and ports.  Whilst taking in the scenery keep an eye out for the array of birdlife circling overhead and herds of wild deer which can often be seen from the train.

Fortunately, enjoying rail travel in Britain and these scenic rail routes of Scotland couldn’t be easier for overseas visitors who have access to a range of inclusive rail passes via the excellent Britrail system.  The Explore Scotland by Rail itinerary also takes you along both of the majestic rail journeys mentioned above.  The new high-speed line through England will reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour but is not predicted to be ready to open for another 20 years so in the meantime why not sit back and enjoy the scenery at a more leisurely pace on one these scenic rail journeys!

Happy Birthday Tube You!

Some of us may take it for granted, some people complain about it as they make their daily commute, but it should be remembered that the London Underground is the oldest subway in the World and last week celebrated its 150th Birthday!

London Underground or "Tube" Train
London Underground or “Tube” Train

Amazingly, the London Underground’s first steam engine chugged through the tunnels between Paddington and Farringdon way back on January 10th 1863. However, within days of this maiden journey, the single line was carrying tens of thousands of people each day and had become one of the busiest routes in England.  Built to ease congestion on the busy London streets above ground, the tracks were originally laid by digging long trenches, constructing the tunnels and then refilling the ground above.  Over the years the construction became more sophisticated, with the famous English engineer Isambard Brunel assisting in developing much deeper tunnels and extending the network across London.  The trains themselves followed suit, modernising from steam engines to electrified lines by the late 1800s.  Previously run as separate entities, and giving us the interesting line names (such as Bakerloo, Jubilee and Metropolitan) that are still so familiar to us today, by the 1930s the lines were all brought together under one publicly owned management system and the London Underground or “Tube” as we know it today began to take shape.

Roundel Logo of London Underground
Roundel Logo of London Underground

A century and half after the first journey, today the tube boasts 270 serviced stations, around 400 miles of track and up to 3.5 million journeys made every single day!  Whilst many choose to complain of high-prices, overcrowding and old-fashioned trains, it is undeniable that the London Underground is not only an essential part of the city but has also become an iconic part of the fabric of London and an attraction in itself.  The roundel logo (the red circle with the horizontal blue bar across its centre) and the schematic tube map (whose basic layout remains almost the same as its original design in 1931) have both become famous symbols of the city.  And the tube stations and their unique names have featured in art works, literature and music across the years.

London Underground Map
London Underground Map

Throughout 2013, the London Underground’s anniversary will be celebrated with the release of a special two-pound coin by the Royal Mint and new honorary stamps issued by the Royal Mail so if you’re over here on your travels, don’t forget to look out for them.

Love it or hate it the underground is an idea that has caught on; today there are around 160 subway systems in cities across the globe all following the trend that was set by London more than 150 years ago.  With its role in city life more important than ever and with extensive investment planned for the coming years, who knows what the tube could look like in another 150 years time?