Conwy was designed by Edward I’s master builder James of St George, and is one of the most impressive of all the Welsh castles. The eight towers and curtain wall surround an inner and outer ward, and there is a barbican at each end. Conwy was beseiged in 1295 and 1403, and last saw action in the Civil War.
Conwy castle is huge and hard to miss – the attached town wall and gateway makes it seem even bigger from a distance as one approaches from the direction of Chester. The castle itself is remarkably complete, with 8 full-height towers, spiral stairs, and walkways around the walls. There are many rooms and passages to explore. It’s hard not to be excited by it all. Even its towers have smaller watch towers which you can climb, if you are not petrified by heights. There are great views over the town and estuary, and the two historic bridges (turnpike and rail).
Close up, the castle can be annoyingly difficult to reach by car, owing to vague signage. In fact, there is a small parking area inside the town walls, near the castle ticket office, and a large parking area outside the walls and below the castle. The brown signs lead to the latter, or rather the trail peters out just before the anonymous car park appears on your right. The huge castle, meanwhile, looms above, completely hidden by the car roof.
What next? On no account miss exploring the town walls, which still encircle the old town. Much of the town wall still stands and there is a walkway along the top of several sections. Telford’s old suspension bridge is in the care of the National Trust.