Although they all have their own story, many were built in response to the turbulent political times that Wales was subjected to by the English throughout the Medieval times. Today these castles exist in varying states of repair. Some of have been lovingly cared for by aristocratic owners, others have been allowed to crumble away until all that remains are fragments of the past.
You have to really squint (and imagine) to see what remains of Prestatyn Castle and this is best done from a distance. It is estimated that the castle, now nothing more than a mound on the landscape, was built in 1164 by Norman Robert de Banastre, however, it was swiftly destroyed by Owain Gwynedd just three years later. Whilst there are records of attempts being made to rebuild the stronghold, it was never again returned to its former glory.
Denbigh Castle is one of King Edward I’s ring of castles, a project that he had inherited from his father along with the throne, that still remains in fairly good knick (considering it was built in the late 13th Century). Although a little ramshackle in comparison to the other surviving castles of its period, this is still a historic site well worth a visit. The castle still commands a mighty view across the town of Denbigh and the surrounding landscape, so be prepared for a bit of a hike to the top!
Completed in 1310, this is one of Kind Edward’s best surviving castles and is now owned by the National Trust. In addition to the spectacularly intact castle, visitors can also explore over 5 acres of carefully manicured lawns and gardens. For those looking for an extra bit of adventure, there are over 480 acres of parkland that is free to explore where you’ll be able to spot wild ponies and ancient trees, amongst other flora and fauna.
Very little remains of Castle Dinas Bran, but considering that what does remain is likely to be over 700 years old, we can forgive it being a little rough around the edges. Much like Prestatyn Castle, this fortress was the focal point of many battles which eventually led to the destruction of the main structure of the building. Luckily, there still remains some walls and arches which gives visitors a sense of how imposing this castle must have been in its day. There’s a well-marked out path winding its way up to the top of the hill which is handy for families not willing to go cross-country.
Historical documents suggest that this castle was built in the styles of both the Welsh and English. Edward I gifted the lands that the castle lies on to Dafydd ap Gruffyd after he helped capture his brother Llywelyn in the first Welsh campaign (around 1277). Although the castle is built in an essentially Welsh style, there are English features throughout which belie its origins. The castle was ordered to be renovated several times of the years after this, however, the job was never completed and it remained ruinous from the 13th century onwards.
We just had the good fortune of returning from a relaxing weekend spent in the Scottish Highlands where we stayed at Highland Heather Lodges, a collection of self-catering lodges set within some truly stunning scenery. Not only were the landscapes spectacular, but there were also plenty of activities to do in the general area, including a charming farm to visit and some lovely gardens. The only downside to this journey was the distance that we had to travel to get there. As soon as we returned, we decided to make it our goal to find more unique locations to stay at that were a bit closer to home and that’s what we’re presenting here in this article!
The following places are either near or within Denbighshire and offer a unique place to stay, well within reach of some of the area’s best attractions:
We’ve already mentioned how the restaurant at Ruthin Castle is worth a trip in itself, but the castle also offers some fantastic rooms for those with some extra money to spend. Whilst the rooms here certainly aren’t cheap, you can guarantee that you’ll be staying in the lap of luxury and you’ll also have the convenience of staying near to one of the best restaurants in Denbighshire.
This lodging is best suited for larger parties, however its such good value that it could easily work for smaller groups who are willing to pay a little more for the luxury of extra space. Whilst a static caravan might not sound like promising prospect from the outset, this one comes with a few added benefits, including swimming pool, nearby restaurants, supermarkets and beach access – just the ticket for a no-nonsense trip away.
Finalist in the 2018 Wales StartUp Awards, The Forge is the perfect rural getaway for holidaymakers who don’t mind roughing it a little. The glamping options here are the right balance of rustic and comfortable with all the amenities that you’d need for a relaxing stay in the country. The bell tents here either sleep 4 or 8 people, and all include beds, so there’s no need to struggle with sleeping bags at the end of the day.
This spectacular Georgian townhouse offers a contemporary place to stay in the town of Ruthin, which puts you right in the heart of one of the coolest towns in North Wales. In addition to a guest library and cocktail lounge, you can also make use of the private cinema in their basement, as well as a sauna and steam room. There are so many benefits to staying here, in fact, that you may not feel inclined to leave to explore the rest of Denbighshire!
Finally, situated on a small-holding in an unfussy corner of Denbighshire, you’ll find Muydo Mynydd Lodges. These sturdily built lodges (similar in style to those we found at Highland Heather Lodges) come equipped with the standard amenities, plus a private hot tub, just the thing for a romantic getaway. The lodges serve as a perfect base to explore the local countryside and you’re just a short stroll away from two award-winning pubs.
In recent years, all of Wales has quickly become one of the go-to destinations for families, couples and young people looking for an action-packed, yet affordable family holiday. Wales was once considered to be a purely seaside destination and whilst the coastal towns of Denbighshire are still very popular in the peak of summer, the increasing popularity of outdoor pursuits, such as climbing and mountain biking, has led to a steady increase in popularity for the region.
We’re going to tip our hat here to Visit North Wales, who have done an excellent job of informing us of all the new exciting activities that are open to visitors. Their website is packed full of info regarding the whole of North Wales, and they’ve proved invaluable in helping us put this together – thanks, guys!
Admittedly, all of these activities take place outside of Denbighshire, but they’re only a short drive away really and it’s still perfectly possible to stay here as a base for your adventures throughout the rest of North Wales.
Whether you’re visiting Denbighshire for a fun-filled adventure, or are just looking to take it easy for the weekend, you’ll need to eat at some point and, luckily for you, there are a handful of excellent restaurants open all year round which make for a perfect mid-holiday treat or pitstop during your break. Full disclosure: some of these places are a short drive outside of Denbighshire, however, they will always be well worth the trip we can assure you!
Take a trip to one of these excellent restaurants in Denbighshire, and don’t forget to let us know how you enjoyed your trip:
Regularly featured in major publications such as The Good Food Guide and The Good Hotel Guide, Tyddyn Llan is the brainchild of Bryan Webb, an internationally respected chef who has spent over 40 years cooking. The restaurant is set within a sumptuous historical building (which also serves as a hotel) and has garnered praise from all corners of the world, in addition to being awarded a Michelin star.
We’ve already mentioned Tyn Rhyl as a must-visit historical sight in its own right, but whilst you’re there you may as well stop by for a bite to eat. The food at this double gabled house is fine dining by way of Wales. Fresh Welsh produce is placed front and centre at this restaurant, allowing you to properly get the taste for the local culture whilst soaking the refined delights of a home that dates back to 1672.
Ruthin Castle was a frequent haunt for King Edward VII (known as Bertie by his family), the King loved nothing more than to spend his time at the castle drinking fine wines and eating gourmet cuisine, a lifestyle choice that you can indulge in yourself when you visit Bertie’s Restaurant. The pan-European influenced menu is perhaps a little more adventurous than the King might have sampled in his day, but that shouldn’t stop you from nipping in for a bite to eat.
Fans of Downton Abbey will no doubt delight in the grand architecture on offer at Pale Hall, but they may still baulk at the cost of dinner. Make no mistake, Pale Hall is a luxury fine dining experience that comes with the price tag that you’d expect from such a proposition. If you really want to push the boat out you could consider staying the night in one of the eighteen decadent rooms on offer there.
Looking for an interesting day out, packed with interesting historical tidbits and the opportunity to get a breath of fresh air? Look no further!
Rhyl is famed for its reputation as one of North East Wales’ premier tourist destinations, and it’s not hard to see why. During the summer, the beaches are packed, the pubs are heaving and the streets are bustling with tourists looking for a good time. Under the sweltering Welsh summer sun, it can be easy to miss the outstanding historical heritage that this seaside town is home to. If you’re thinking of stopping by this quintessential Welsh holiday destination, then you could do a lot worse than stopping by some of these places of interest.
There aren’t many houses that can claim to contain a portion of King Henry VIII’s bedstead, but Ty’n Rhyl is one of them. Whilst the authenticity of this artefact has been rigorously backed up historical research, you’ll find it on display nonetheless at this centuries-old home. Dating back to 1672 (a fact that has been backed up historians) this grand home is also said to contain fragments of Rhuddlan Castle, 1672 clearly being a time when local monuments were fair game when it came to sourcing building materials. Ty’n Rhyl is now one of the finest restaurants in Prestatyn which you can also stay at, if you’re willing to part with the cash.
Now operating under the name of The Cob and Pen, this Victorian-era pub was once the Dudley Arms Hotel, an institution that was a central part of the Rhyl community, and home to its fair share of events and scandalous affairs. Historical records speak of dead bodies being found, suicides being halted and even thieves operations being foiled under the roof of the Dudley Arms. During its peak of popularity in the Victorian era ‘smoking concerts’ were held for the men in the local area to meet, listen to music and smoke. Naturally, women weren’t permitted to attend these affairs. Today, landlord Amanda Phelan welcomes all to this friendly family pub.
Built-in the late 1860s, this is another pub of distinguished pedigree that is well worth a visit. Functioning as a popular guest house for travelling visitors for decades, you may be surprised to hear that it was home to a thriving Jazz club during the 1960s, attracting connoisseurs from across Denbighshire for a number of years. After the dissolution of this club, music continued to thrive at The Bee in the shape of a popular Folk club which ran for nearly 34 years, before the closure of the pub in 2005. The building was refurbished and reopened by the council and is now home to offices and the Lego Innovation Studio.
Interested in exploring more of Rhyl? Walk the tour using the History Point mobile app Tour.