Caldicot to Chepstow
Huge bridges and small villages with big histories.
Around the Great Orme from the Queen of Welsh Resorts to one of the world’s best-preserved medieval castles
Llandudno Promenade to Conwy, although the route can be split in two by starting or finishing at Llandudno’s West Shore.
4 miles / 6 kilometres (if starting at West Shore),
5 miles / 7 kilometres (if finishing at West Shore and walking back to Llandudno’s North Shore) via Haulfre Gardens
8 miles / 14 kilometres for the whole route.
We start on Llandudno’s wide and elegant promenade which provides a very pleasant start to this walk, even today evoking some of the atmosphere of its Victorian origins.
Pass the entrance to Llandudno Pier. Built in 1877, paddle steamers initially brought passengers here from Liverpool while in the last century, daytrips departed to the Isle of Man. Today it offers a pleasant stroll to take in the sea air and has a small fairground, stalls, and a café and bar at the end.
Now we set off around the Great Orme, but take care as the road is also used by drivers who pay a small toll to drive along this spectacular cliff-edge road. On our left is the entrance to Happy Valley - a Victorian park which houses a camera obscura, an open-air theatre, alpine-themed mini golf course and, for the more adventurous, the UK’s longest cabin lift, a dry ski slope, tubing and a toboggan run. The walk to the top is steep, but manageable for most fit and healthy people.
Our route however carries on along Marine Drive. Once past the tollbooth, make sure to turn around to take a picture-postcard photo of the pier, the crescent arc of Llandudno Bay, and the Little Orme in the distance framing the scene.
Continue along Marine Drive as it snakes along the cliffs ahead of you, climbing steadily with the steepest section near the Lighthouse bed and breakfast, built on top of a 300 foot high cliff. Soon after, the Rest and Be Thankful cafe provides an opportunity to replenish some energy reserves. The views from these highest parts of the walk looking along the north Wales coast towards Snowdonia, Anglesey and Puffin Island are truly spectacular.
By now we will probably have come across some of the Great Orme’s resident goats. Originally given to Lord Mostyn by Queen Victoria, the goats became famous worldwide when they occupied Llandudno’s empty streets during the Covid-19 lockdown.
From here it’s all downhill with stunning views at every turn. Look down to see the remains of a second world war artillery school and, further along, to catch a glimpse of “how the other half live” on the exclusive Llys Helyg - named after the mythical court of Helyg whose kingdom is allegedly submerged nearby.
On reaching Llandudno’s expansive West Shore beach we can turn left to head back to Llandudno, either on the pavement or along the “invalid’s walk”. From the old toll house at West Shore this starts with a steep climb and goes through Haulfre Gardens with panoramic views over Llandudno towards Conwy.
But we continue along the coast and up the Conwy estuary to Deganwy. The modern marina here belies the history of the village, and Deganwy Castle on the hillside above was fought over for more than a thousand years. A short detour in the village will take us to the castle site.
By now the majestic turrets of Conwy Castle, one of the most magnificent medieval fortresses in Europe, will have come into view.
And it’s enough to take our breath away. This famous fortress is exceptionally well preserved and takes its place alongside some of Wales’ other great castles as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It contains the most intact set of medieval royal apartments in Wales. The high walls and eight towers rise almost as impressively as when they were built more than 700 years ago.
To reach the castle, we cross the cob past Thomas Telford’s suspension bridge.
And just like the castle, Conwy’s town walls are among the finest and most complete in Europe. Stretching almost uninterrupted around Conwy’s medieval heart, they run for three quarters of a mile, with 21 towers and three original gateways along their length. We can walk along the top of the wall as it loops around Conwy’s cramped medieval streets.
The little walled town of Conwy is a real gem and you can spend a day or more wandering its narrow lanes, exploring its shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. The town’s quay is a great place to catch a glimpse of its maritime life, take a river cruise, and discover Britain’s smallest house.
Only a hundred yards up the road from the quay we find fourteenth century Aberconwy House. Miraculously, this medieval merchant's house survived the turbulent history of the walled town over nearly six centuries.
Conwy is also home to Britain’s finest Elizabethan town house, Plas Mawr. Created during a golden age when wealthy merchants invested in lavish mansions, Robert Wynn, son of a local landowner, entered the service of Tudor diplomats and travelled to the most splendid royal courts of Europe. His fortune made, he bought this mansion and turned it into a celebration of his life, times and wealth.
Gruff Owen, Wales Coast Path officer for the North Wales coast, said: “This is a definite walk of two halves. The first half clings to the narrow cliff-edge road around the Great Orme’s limestone cliffs, providing fabulous coastal views for miles around. The second is completely flat, beside a fabulous beach, up the Conwy estuary and finishing in the unique medieval town of Conwy.”
There are numerous public car parks and on-street parking in Llandudno town centre, West Shore and Conwy. Regular bus services travel between Llandudno town centre and Conwy. Parking at the end of the route and getting a bus or train to the start may save you some time waiting for buses after completing the walk.
Be aware that most train services will require a change at Llandudno Junction. Alternatively you can buy a ticket for the Llandudno hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
There are plenty of public toilets in Llandudno, also at the Rest and Be Thankful cafe, Llandudno West Shore, Deganwy and Conwy.
Food and drink outlets are available in many places along this route.
Download the Llandudno to Conwy map (JPEG, 2.8MB)