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Places to o see in North Wales before you die.

Byline: ROB DAVIES

WHAT are the 100 most important places to visit in Wales before you die? In case you're undecided, John Davies and Marian Delyth have just the book for you.

They have been all over Wales choosing the cream of the crop - Cardiff historian and academic John writing about them and Aberystwyth photographer Marian painstakingly taking all the pictures.

A third of the locations are to be found in North Wales and with a little help from John's write-ups and Marian's photographs, here is a personal top 10 must-see places in this region: 10. MINERA LEAD MINE AND CLYWEDOG TRAIL Sometimes, it is nice to find the gems that not so many people know about and which lie some way off the tourist routes. One such is the Clywedog Trail and historic lead mine at Minera.

John describes the walk from the Clywedog River from Coedpoeth to Wrexham as one of the most interesting in Wales.

"The valley floor is owned by the National Trust and it is difficult to believe, while walking through its leafy glades, that the path traverses one of the most significant industrial landscapes in Britain," writes John.

9. CAERNARFON The old fortress town needs no explanation as to why one should visit it. The stunning castle, town walls, and superb views of the harbour and across the Strait speak for themselves.

What does Rhondda-brought up John Davies make of it? For him the most interesting building of all is the Gwynedd Council offices - he particularly likes the extension designed by Dewi Prys Thomas, which symbolises how a town established to consolidate victory over Welsh has become the stronghold of Welshness.

8. LLANBERIS John describes Llanberis as being "as near as it gets to the top of Wales' must-see places. "Indeed, it is difficult to think of any other place of its size (2,018 inhabitants) which offers so many attractions - the Dinorwig Slate Quarry, the National Slate Museum and the Dinorwig Power Station are aspects of the area's industrial history."

And then there is Dolbadarn Castle, built in 1225 on the orders of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, who was convinced that control over Llanberis Pass was essential to the security of his realm.

7. BODNANT The gardens at Bodnant can lay claim to being the finest in Wales, and among the best in Britain, claims John in the book.

It is hard to disagree. The story of these wonderful gardens began in 1874 when wealthy industrialist Henry Davis Pochin bought a house and 25 farms north of the village of Eglwys-bach.

He was a keen gardener and employed a designer to make his vision a reality and Bodnant's best-known feature, the 150ft tunnel of Golden Chain (Laburnums) had already been planted by his death in 1895.

6. CONWY Conwy is bound to be on everyone's list of must-see places in Wales - and John Davies is quite right that if the approach to the town is impressive now, it must have been delightful before the bridges were built.

But as he says, Telford's and Stephenson's bridges are also masterpieces which enrich the view, although the same can hardly be said for the modern bridge built in the 1950s.

There is more to see than just the castle and the walls. St Mary's Church is well worth a visit - the original burial site of Llywelyn the Great, and Aberconwy House, the oldest town house in Wales.

5. DENBIGH In Denbigh, the tomb of John Salusbury who died in 1578, his wife Jane and their sons can be seen at St Marcella's Church.

The Salusburys were a family of powerful oligarchs which at the time controlled most of Denbighshire.

Also of note, John points out, are the mediaeval town walls of Denbigh, although the townspeople moved outside them by the 16th century because the land within was so steep and lacked adequate water.

4. ERDDIG It was in 1973 that Erddig was taken over by the National Trust, which helped save the building from collapse. The shafts and tunnels of Bersham Colliery had caused it to sink and more than pounds 1 million had to be spent to re-create its foundations.

The central part of Erddig was built in 1683 and by the 1700s, had passed to the Yorke family, seven generations of whom were to own it. The garden matches the house for interest - a formal garden which was never removed like so many from this era.

3. CHIRK CASTLE The gardens at Chirk Castle, unlike those at Erddig, did fall victim to the fashion for getting rid of symmetrical lines - replaced by winding paths and clusters of shrubs.

The wonderful gates, constructed by Robert Davies in 1712, were moved to a site near a public road, where they can be more easily admired.

"From the gates it is a short walk to other glories of Chirk. They include the aqueduct and railway across the Ceiriog," writes John.

2. PARYS MOUNTAIN Photographer Marian Delyth describes Parys Mountain as her favourite spot in North Wales and, it is possibly the most undiscovered of all our gems in North Wales.

"The mountain was named after the Parys family, constables of Caernarfon Castle in the 15th Century", writes John.

"On Mar discovered of Mach b and the v rewarded rent-free c rch 2, 1768, a rich vein of copper was d on Parys Mountain. The second day became a day of annual celebration, vein's discoverer, Roland Puw, was with a bottle of whisky and a ottage for life."

1. POR RTMEIRION nal favourite is the magical Italianate Portmeirion, off the main road Maentwrog and Harlech.

My person village of between M John Da most rema The land Clough Wi avies describes the place as "Wales's arkable village." He's right!

d at Aber I was passed down to illiams-Ellis (1883-1978) in the early 20th century.

"He believed that sensitively designed architecture could add beauty to the most beautiful of places, although it is difficult to belive that any planning authority today would permit an architect to create a fantasy, including buildings no-one else wanted," writes John.

No doubt he is quite correct - more's the pity!

After Williams-Ellis's death his family, through a charitable trust, have continued to preserve and restore Portmeirion to this day.

.Wales - The 100 Places To See Before You Die by John Davies and Marian Delyth is published by Y Lolfa priced pounds 29.95 and is available from bookshops or from the publishers' website at www.ylolfa.com
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 15, 2010
Words:1082
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