Travel review: Explore the beauty of North Wales in Betws-y-Coed
Cheryl Mullin travels to Betws-y-Coed to explore the beauty of North Wales
I’M ashamed to say that even though it’s on my doorstep, I never venture into North Wales as often as I should. I have many a happy childhood memory of fun-filled days out and family holidays spent there, but as an adult I never seem to have the time to visit.
So an invitation to explore beautiful Betws-y-Coed seemed the perfect excuse to reacquaint myself with this stunning part of the world.
We arrived late on at the Waterloo Hotel and Lodge, a Best Western owned venue, at the gateway to the village.
Guests have a choice of two dining areas and full membership at Stations leisure and spa – which features a gym, pool and jacuzzi.
Checking in, we drove around the back of the hotel to the peaceful courtyard that housed our lodge style accommodation. The lodge was much bigger than I expected, with patio doors that overlooked the grounds and mountains beyond.
After settling in, we ventured back to the main hotel for a late dinner in the newly refurbished Bridge Restaurant.
The menu has a strong emphasis on local seasonal produce, with the hotel working closely with local suppliers to create wholesome, tasty dishes.
My husband opted to start with chicken liver parfait with winter chutney and warm toast, while I went with tomato and basil soup with home-baked bread. Both dishes were delicious, and extremely filling.
For mains I had red pepper, feta, spinach and chestnut pie, while Steve went for welsh beer battered haddock with chips, and mushy peas.
Again we were not disappointed.
Too full for dessert, we strolled back to the lodge to relax and sleep off satisfyingly full stomachs.
We awoke to a cold, crisp but beautiful morning.
A hoarfrost had settled on the hills, making for picture-postcard scenery as we wandered down to the hotel for a filling breakfast to set ourselves up for the day.
Just 20 minutes up the road from Betws-y-Coed is Bodnant Garden, which for the first time in its history is open for the winter season. Owned by the National Trust, there are over 80-acres of gardens to explore from expansive lawns and grand ponds to a steep wooded valley and stream.
A special winter garden has been created for visitors, adding surprising splashes of colour to brighten the chilly months.
We spent a delightful couple of hours strolling around, from the beautiful front lawn and winter garden, to the Pin Mill and waterfall.
We browsed the selection of shops as we exited the garden and stopped for a warming brew at the Magnolia Tea room on our way back to the car.
With great effort we managed to ignore the vast array of cakes on offer, as we were heading up the road for lunch at the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre.
Opened less than 12 months ago, this impressive centre is a showcase for the very best food and drink the region has to offer.
Boasting a restaurant, shops, cafe, cookery school and The National Beekeeping Centre for Wales, there’s plenty to explore.
But first to lunch at Hayloft Restaurant.
Stepping in from the chilly weather, we were greeted by a roaring fire and the smell of smouldering timber.
We were shown to our table, next to a window with a stunning view out across Conwy Valley and left to peruse the lunch menu.
I opted for the roasted vegetable lasagne with home made coleslaw, while Steve tucked into chargrilled lemon and garlic marinated chicken breast served on ciabatta bread with chunky chips. Both meals were delicious and warming, staving off the hunger we had built up strolling the gardens.
Venturing back for a pudding, Steve selected the white chocolate cheesecake while I went for sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce – as heartily recommended by our waitress.
Finishing with tea and coffee, we left our table satisfied and ready to explore the rest of the centre.
Now more than ever people want to know where their food comes from and what ingredients are being used.
The farm shop hosts an astonishing array of locally produced fair.
Speciality breads and cakes created in the on-site bakery, a butcher’s (stocking ‘classics with a twist’ like Pork and Pear burgers, Venison and Cherry Burgers) cheese deli and much, much more.
We met head butcher Iain Miles, who spoke with real passion about the meats on sale which are all sourced from local farms.
And you really must try the Aberwen, a Cheshire-style cheese that has been made in the Conwy valley for over 300 years.
That night we dined back at the Bridge Restaurant, this time enjoying the desserts we’d had to pass on the night before.
Next morning we checked out of the hotel, enjoyed a pleasant stroll around Betws-y-Coed village itself.
Even on a Sunday, there were plenty of little shops to explore with delis, hiking shops and plenty of cafes to choose from.
We stopped for warm drinks in the Buffet Coach Cafe which is based in an old British Rail buffet carriage.
As the snow started to fall we decided to hit the road and head for home, thoroughly relaxed and already planning a return visit.
Betws-y-Coed travel fact file
CHERYL stayed at The Waterloo Hotel and Lodge, Betws-y-Coed.
Price per person per night start from £72.
The world-famous Bodnant Gardens houses plant life from across the globe, beautifully located in the 80 acre garden that showcases spectacular views of Snowdonia.
Prices from £8.13 for adults and £4.07 for children.
Bodnant Welsh Food Centre
Celebrating Welsh food at its best, the centre boasts a restaurant, shops and cookery school. The cookery school offers a wide range of cookery courses and their onsite farm shop is a must visit for delicious locally sourced products.
Cookery school prices start from £35 per person.
For more information visit: http://www.visitllandudno.org.uk