Wednesday, 3 September 2014


Llandudno on the North Wales Coast has always been one of my favourite destinations since my first visit (over 60 years ago - gulp!) as it's a 'proper' seaside resort. An earlier visit I made on 26th November 2011 is described here and the railway journey itself is described here.

Saturday, 30th August 2014

I travelled by road with my niece Ann and her partner Dean to Llandudno. It was the first visit for both Ann and Dean. We had mixed weather on the journey to Llandudno and when we arrived it was overcast and not too warm. We worked our way along Mostyn Street visiting various shops before having a late fish and chip lunch outside a busy restaurant which was provided, like many of Llandudno's buildings, with an attractive verandah. The verandah proved its usefulness when it started to rain as we enjoyed our meal. We then checked into our accommodation at the Imperial Hotel before going onto the promenade to see more.

Imperial Hotel, Llandudno, North Wales, viewed from the promenade.

The sea views have been completely changed by the construction of offshore wind farms. When I visited in 2011 the seascape included views of the Rhyl Flats wind farm with 25 turbines but now, further offshore, the 160 turbines of the Gwynt y Mor array completed installation in June 2014 and are due to be commissioned by the end of 2014. As the rain held off, the promenade and beach was crowded but by the time we reached the lifeboat slipway it was raining quite hard.

Llandudno's Lifeboat

Uniquely, the boathouse for the lifeboat is in the town so that the lifeboat can be towed to and launched from either of Llandudno's two beaches. A special tractor hauls the lifeboat, on its own tracked trailer, to the slipway. The lifeboat and amphibious tractor were on display at the slipway to remind visitors of its role and seek donations. It's amazing and encouraging that the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is funded by charitable donations and most lifeboat crew are unpaid volunteers. There are Wikipedia articles on the RNLI, the Mersey class lifeboat, the Lifeboat Station and the amphibious tractor.

Llandudno's Amphibious Tractor and Mersey class lifeboat on display.

Honda Goldwing Meeting

We didn't find out until we arrived that the Honda Goldwing motorcycle meet (which I understand is called a 'WingDing') and Light Parade was in progress. Last year, there were around 150 machines present and they raised over four thousand pounds for the Lions and the Lifeboat. We spent some time admiring the 2-wheel and 3-wheel machines, many towing a trailer but we didn't see the evening Light Parade. The coverage of the event in the 'North Wales Pioneer' is here.

Just a few of the Honda Goldwing motorcycles on display on the Promenade.

Saturday, 30th August 2014, late afternoon/evening

We visited more shops in the town, including the 'Sweet Emporium' with probably the broadest range of confectionery I've seen, before returning to the hotel for an evening meal.

'Sweet Emporium'.

Once it was dark, looking out to sea from the hotel, a long chain of lights was visible on the horizon. We eventually decided that each of the wind turbines carried white lights low down on the mast and at least some carried red warning beacons at the top of the mast. In places, there were concentrations of lights suggesting offshore platforms.

Sunday, 31st August 2014

After a good night's sleep, I went for an early morning walk around the town before joining Ann and Dean for the very comprehensive 'Welsh Breakfast' served by the hotel.

The gardens at the end of Mostyn Street. Note the White Rabbit wood carving.

A rather odd-looking vessel had moored in the bay. It appeared to be an offshore support vessel (both fore- and after-decks were loaded with containers) and was operated by James Fisher and Sons plc. Afterwards, I identified it as Fisher's Supacat Offshore Support Vessel.

Fisher Supacat Offshore Support Vessel

There was no rain and the day was warming up nicely so Ann, Dean and I went along the promenade to the War Memorial, then continued along the length of the splendid pier. There were lots of people around enjoying the sunshine. Returning to the town, the famous Punch and Judy show was giving a performance. Then we visited more shops before checking out of the hotel.

Llandudno's Pier

We set off in the car along the Marine Drive around the Great Orme, giving splendid sea views. To reach the Summit, there's a rather narrow, zig-zagging road which passes St. Tudno's Church.

St. Tudno's Church, Great Orme.

After Dean and I had explored the Church and Churchyard, we carried on to the Summit where there's a cafe, bar, various shops and a Visitor Centre. Both the Great Orme Tramway and the Cable Cars terminate here. Once again, there were lots of visitors. By now it was late afternoon so we took a snack in the cafe then spent some time in the Visitor Centre before enjoying the views of the North Wales Coast, Puffin Island and Anglesey. We descended the zig-zag road to rejoin Marine Drive, which is one-way. We completed our trip around the Great Orme, passing the former Lighthouse (now a Bed and Breakfast) and the 'Rest and be Thankful' cafe. This took us to Llandudno's second, quieter beach, the West Shore. Gloddaeth Avenue then led us back to the town and, reluctantly, we left Llandudno after a very enjoyable break, this time taking the A470 road up the Conwy Valley through LLanrwst to Betws-y-Coed. Here, we joined the A5 from Holyhead for the journey home.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice Liddell was believed to be the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's famous book 'Alice in Wonderland'. It is known that she stayed with her family in Llandudno when she was eight. There was an Alice in Wonderland museum in Llandudno for some years until the lady owner decided to retire. Conwy County Borough Council commissioned the wood sculptor Simon Hedger to produce four (later increased to six) wooden statues to form a trail around Llandudno. A local businessman is attempting to establish a fully digital 'Alice Trail' but this has met with some opposition. During my early-morning walk I found statues of Alice (in oak), the Mad Hatter (oak), the White Rabbit (oak) and the Queen of Hearts (cedar). There are pictures of the statues in my Llandudno Album. I didn't see Tweedledum and Tweedledee (oak) or the Cheshire Cat (cedar) although I believe they are in place.

Offshore Wind Turbines

The seabed is controlled by the Crown Estate and permits have been issued in a series of 'Rounds'.

Map of the Celtic Array Wind Farms.

There's a PDF version of the map here.

Round 1: Rhyl Flats

A mass of technical information on this 25-turbine array can be found here.

Round 2: Gwynt y Mor

Further offshore is the Gwynt y Mor array, comprising another 160 turbines completed installation in June 2014 and are due to be fully operational at a cost of around two billion pounds at the end of 2014. A mass of technical information on this can be found here.

Round 3: Celtic Array

This is divided into Celtic Array North East and Celtic Array South West. However, Centrica and its partner, Dong Energy, have recently abandoned the project, as described here.

Support for these wind farms is provided by the Port of Mostyn. My earlier post Trip to Holyhead (Part 1: Crewe to Llandudno) has more information and links regarding Mostyn.

Oil and Gas

In my earlier post Trip to Holyhead (Part 1: Crewe to Llandudno), I described how the gas from the Liverpool Bay Field is used by Connah's Quay Power Station, having come ashore at Point of Ayr Gas Terminal.

A little research showed that the large offshore platform we'd seen from Llandudno was actually the three-platform manned Douglas Complex - the "nerve centre of the Liverpool Bay Oil and Gas Fields" which receives the output from three unmanned satellite platforms - Lennox, Hamilton and Hamilton North. The Liverpool Bay Oil and Gas Fields are described here.

There's a fascinating map on the ShipAIS site showing the Douglas Complex, its satellites and undersea pipelines plus real-time information on all the vessels in the area here.

My pictures