A few years ago someone I knew had told me about Conwy marina and how nice it was, though I'd never had the chance to go there, so with my liking for boats and water I decided that's where I would head for. It was a very pleasant drive along the A55 coast road and less than half an hour after leaving Britannia bridge I saw the sign for Conwy marina pointing up the next slip road. The marina itself wasn't far from the A55 and was approached through a small estate of modern houses which made me wonder at one point if somehow I had taken a wrong turn, however I eventually came to a large well laid out car park with a sign at the entrance which said 'Welcome to Conwy Marina'. Across the car park was The Mulberry pub/restaurant and a large chandlery and boat sales shop and over to my right on a private part of the car park were several large boats on trailers, some looking quite expensive. There was a covered walkway between The Mulberry and the chandlery so after parking the van and putting the dogs on their leads I walked through to see what was at the other side - and I was very pleasantly surprised.
The Mulberry had a very pleasant outdoor seating area and between there and the chandlery was what the Italians would call a piazza overlooking the marina and the estuary, with timber seating set into fancy stone walls and large rectangular tubs filled with colourful flowering plants. The whole place looked really nice and I could see that my camera would be getting a lot of use. The marina itself had so many boats moored up that it would have been impossible to count them all - there were big ones, small ones, yachts, dinghies, speedboats, catamarans; I think the only thing missing was a P & O ferry. All this was overlooked by a row of nice looking purpose built modern houses which looked to be fairly recent, and a paved 'promenade' went right to the very end of the marina where there was a brightly coloured ice cream van parked up.
I didn't know what, if anything, was beyond where the ice cream van was parked so I set off in that direction, pausing every few minutes to take yet another photo - and there was so much to take photos of. When I got to the far end of the marina I was quite surprised to see that what I had thought was maybe a patch of grass where the ice cream van was parked was actually a road leading to a large gravel-surfaced car park which was divided into several sections by grass banks and bushes. At the far side of the car park I came to a beach bordered by a bit of rough scrubland and large boulders which in turn was backed by the end of a golf course. Across the estuary were the beach and houses of the little town of Deganwy, backed by some very pleasant looking hills and with yet more boats moored up in the water, making for some really nice views.
When I had seen and photographed everything I possibly could round there I walked all the way back past the chandlery and the end of the car park and round the other end of the marina. A narrow path led past an area of scrubland and not far along I came to a sloping beach of deep sand about a hundred yards long which ended in an area of trees and bushes. Without scrambling down the rocks I couldn't go any further as the path doubled back on itself there, so after taking a few more photos I made my way back to the van. I was just about to set off when I had a phone call from Louise, a UKCS member who lived on Anglesey, inviting me to meet for a brew and a chat later - it was a nice idea and something to look forward to in the evening so I said I would ring her when I eventually got back to the camp site.
I couldn't visit Conwy marina without going into Conwy itself - I remember going there with my parents when I was a small child, on a day trip while on holiday in Llandudno, but I had never been since and only had the vaguest of recollections about it so it was time for a bit of exploration. It didn't take many minutes to get from the marina to the town itself but finding somewhere to park proved to be quite difficult and at one point I got into a flow of one way traffic which I didn't really want to be in and ended up going across the bridge over the estuary and away from the town. However this actually proved to be beneficial as I noticed a lay-by on the opposite side of the bridge with a few vehicles parked in it, so when I reached the roundabout at the end I turned round and went back - there was just enough room to squeeze the van into the space behind the last car in the line, so after checking for a ticket machine and finding there wasn't one I gave the dogs a drink and set off to see what delights Conwy had to offer.
Across from where I left the van the road was bordered by a stone wall and over the other side of it a tarmac promenade and lawns stretched the length of the bridge up to the outer walls of the castle. At the far side of the castle was a quayside with a few fishing boats moored up and a long jetty where passengers were just disembarking from a trip boat. Towards the far end of the quay I was delighted to find 'the smallest house in Great Britain', a tiny little one up, one down cottage. I remember being taken in there when I was a child, though I would never have remembered exactly where it was, so coming across it unexpectedly was quite a surprise. It was 'guarded' by a pleasant looking lady in Welsh national dress and I would have loved to have a look inside but there was a very long queue and I didn't want to wait so I continued to the end of the quay then took the lane up in the direction of the town itself.
I wasn't particularly interested in looking at the shops so I made my way back towards the castle to have a look round there. I would have liked to go in but it would have taken quite a while to look round and it was too warm to leave the dogs in the van so I was happy just to take a few photos from round the outside. Across the corner from the castle near the beginning of the bridge across the estuary was a triangular shaped garden with a wishing well in the centre, a couple of bench seats and a few colourful flowers beds; on one of the seats were three people dressed in what looked to be medieval costume playing instruments and singing folk songs. I don't know if they had any connection to the castle but they added something to the already pleasant little garden.
A road went down by the side of the castle so for curiosity's sake I decided to see what was down there, but as I didn't know if there would be anything worth seeing, or if there was how far away it would be, I thought I would drive down rather than walk so I returned to the van, gave the dogs a drink and set off to see what I could find. I hadn't gone very far past the castle when I came across a small park on my left and a view of the estuary on the landward side of the bridge - there was a lane leading from the road in the direction of the water so I turned off and found that conveniently I could park up a short distance down. The park consisted mainly of a couple of bowling greens and a clubhouse but there were a few flower beds along one side and a lawned area just beyond the clubhouse which made it quite a pleasant little place.
About halfway down the lane was a stone built bungalow with the most glorious cottage garden - there were plants and flowers of all colours and descriptions surrounding a bit of lawn and a stone ornamental bird bath. It looked very much as if the garden had been left to run a bit wild but it was to no detriment - cultivating it into formality would probably take away its charm. Another hundred yards or so past the bungalow the lane came to an end at the gates of a private house - there was a slipway down onto a nearby beach and as the tide was low just at that point I thought I may as well let Sophie and Sugar do a bit of exploring while I took some more photos.
When I was satisfied that I had all the photos I wanted I called the dogs, put them back on the lead, and made my way back to the van. I had been wandering round Conwy and the marina for three hours and although I knew I probably hadn't seen everything I needed to allow enough time to visit another couple of places I planned to see. However, as I drove across the bridge and headed back towards the A55 I mentally marked Conwy down for a return visit in the not-too-distant future.