An Exhilarating Experience: The Great Orme, Llandudno, Wales

My Julie Andrews impersonation on the Great Orme

My Julie Andrews impersonation on the Great Orme

The Great Orme, Llandudno, Wales

The Great Orme, Y Gogarth in Welsh, is a limestone headland at Llandudno, on the northern coast of Wales.

According to Wikipedia, ‘Orme’ is an old Norse word for sea serpent. The Great Orme has had human inhabitants for over 8,000 years. Its geology includes Bronze Age copper mines, ancient caves and wells, and steep cliffs.

Today the Great Orme balances farming and tourism as its primary activities.

A visit to the Great Orme begins at ground level, in Llandudno, on the Irish Sea.

Llandudno, Queen of Welsh Resorts

Llandudno, Conwy, Wales

Llandudno, Conwy, Wales

Llandudno is a Victorian-style seaside resort, complete with a promenade and 1,234-foot pier, the longest in Wales. You could spend an entire day strolling around Llandudno, enjoying the atmosphere and fresh sea air.

Public footpath, Y Gogarth, Great Orme

Public footpath, Y Gogarth, Great Orme

To get up to the Great Orme, you can drive on the toll road, Marine Drive, take a tram or cable car, or, most satisfying of all for those who enjoy walking, make your way up via the Y Gogarth public footpath.

The walk isn’t overly strenuous, but provides good exercise in the early stages when the path climbs up the headland.

Y Gogarth, the Great Orme

The route up to the Great Orme winds through a public garden called Happy Valley, then continues up a long, steep set of gravel steps.

Clive at top of gravel steps, Great Orme

Clive at top of gravel steps, Great Orme

After reaching the top of the steps, the path winds around the headland, providing a taste of the views that are to come.

Footpath sign on way to Great Orme summit

Footpath sign on way to Great Orme summit

Eventually the path reaches the high, open area of the headland.
I felt like we were in ‘The Sound of Music ’, one of my favourite movies of all time, with nothing but stunning scenery and the sound of birdsong in the air.

The sheep have some of the best views on the Great Orme.

Sheep on the hillside, Great Orme

Sheep on the hillside, Great Orme

St. Tudno’s Church

The little church we came upon was established by Tudno, a 6th century monk.  Its present building is modern by comparison, dating only from from the 12th century.

Clive approaching St. Tudno's Church, Great Orme

Clive approaching St. Tudno's Church, Great Orme

I am always moved when we find these ancient churches, still active parishes today, on our walks. The sign at St. Tudno’s said it has been a place of pilgrimage for over 1400 years, where visitors find spiritual strength and prayerful healing.

The God I believe in is available everywhere, yet being in this place
I too felt a sense of peace and connection to the divine. We sat on a bench, ate our lunch, and talked about the earthly needs of various family members while surrounded by the gravesites of St. Tudno’s cemetery.

Gravesites at St. Tudno's Church, Great Orme

Gravesites at St. Tudno's Church, Great Orme

An Exhilarating Experience

What a joy it was, to walk high above the sea on the Great Orme footpath. We stopped briefly at the visitors’ centre at the summit, then continued around the headland to the southern side of the Orme.

Here we walked alongside a stone wall which we nicknamed the Great Wall of Wales. Below us we could see Conwy Bay and the estuary of the River Conwy.

Footpath, south side of Great Orme

Footpath, south side of Great Orme

Looking back to where we just came from, you can see the Great Wall of Wales stretching back as far as the eye can see.

Stone wall, south side of Great Orme

Stone wall, south side of Great Orme

We stopped and had a coffee from our trusty Thermos, to revive ourselves and give our feet a rest before leaving the Great Orme and descending to Llandudno.

Resting the feet near walk's end, Great Orme

Resting the feet near walk's end, Great Orme

The Great Orme can be enjoyed by all ages, whether you walk, drive, take the tram, or take the cable car to the summit. When you get back down to Llandudo, you can reward yourself by having an ice cream on the pier.

My next post will wrap up our Wales trip, as we said goodbye to northern Wales and made our way back to Heathrow via the book town Hay-on-Wye.

Llandudno and Great Orme Official Site

13 Responses

  1. You two are amazingly together. Love the matching walking shoes.

  2. Beautiful….can’t believe that you guys are still on the road after all this time!

  3. Hi Carol,

    I hope I make it someday to this other Happy Valley. Penn State and surrounding area is well known as Happy Valley, although officially it is the Nittany Valley.

    Loved the Julie Andrews pose; one of my favorite movies too. Have you read her autobiography? I also liked the matching shoes!

    Sounds as if you and Clive had a great walk as well as an inspirational experience.

  4. Another incredible area. I need to put that on my growing list of places to visit.

  5. Gosh, Carolyn I’ll have to come back and read more about your adventures in Wales. Thx for stopping by my blog and for the good wishes. For your info, my Dad’s mother was born in Llandudno and it’s my goal to see the city some day. Lorne is Welsh on his Dad’s side so also wants to visit the country. So we’ll be saving our pennies for a future trip.

  6. You have been gone for a long time indeed.
    The light is really beautiful over Wales.
    Leaving today for France for 3 weeks. Hope it
    won’t get too hot.

  7. Hi Carolyn & Clive,

    This is fantastic scenery !!
    The cliffs and their slopes that go down to the sea make me think of the Pays de Caux, in Normandy.
    i love to discover old churchs and old graveyards do not scare me ( it shouldn’t; I’m a genealogist; we love that stuff).

    Have a nice time and enjoy it all until the end.
    Cheers !

  8. What wonderful comments! Thanks, all.

    First, to clarify – I mentioned at the bottom of my ‘Musings about Memory’ post (easy to miss, I realise!) that I’m posting about Wales from back home in Sydney. I only wish we had that much time to spend travelling in Wales!

    Cliff, thanks for visiting and glad you like our walking shoes 🙂 Anne, it really is a gorgeous country. Eleanor, interesting re the ‘other’ Happy Valley in Pennsylvania. I’ve read about Julie Andrews’ biography and it’s on my reading list.

    Linda, Wales is definitely a great place to visit. Leslie, VERY COOL about your and your sweetie’s ancestry. I think Wales with all its beauty would be perfect for a honeymoon 🙂

    Nadege, so true about the light. The sky really was that colour, and I hope you have a wonderful trip to France.

    Barbara, the Normandy scenery sounds fabulous too. I hope to visit there someday.

    Cheers all and thanks again.

  9. Another divine walk. I was just thinking how I’d love to go on one but then realizing Marco isn’t the best companion for that — once, in Etretat (chalk cliffs of Normandy), we were walking along the top of the cliffs and after a while he complained “Where are we GOING?!” and was rather unsatisfied with my answer “Nowhere, just enjoying the sunshine and the sea.” So maybe I’ll have to sneak along with you and Clive, although I have my doubts that I could keep up!!!

    Gorgeous photography and writing, as usual. Quite a poignant moment as you discussed family members’ ‘earthly needs’ while sitting near the old cemetery.

  10. Kim, thanks for your lovely comment. I had to smile about Marco asking where you were going on your walk in Normandy. We both hope to visit Normandy one day.

    Maybe you should take your hubby to Wales 🙂

    Cheers and happy walking.

  11. Hello Carolyn – thank you for your recent visit and comment on my blog. I’ve just come over today to see you. Your blog is certainly packed with lots of information! I see you were in Northern Wales just a few weeks after we were. It’s great to see that you had sunshine! We were across the water in Conwy proper.

    I just perused your post about Hay on Wye, a place I’ve wanted to visit for a couple of years now, ever since I first heard of it. I’d be in my glory in such a book-laden town…

    I’ll be back for more visits.

  12. Sara, welcome and thanks for your comment. I’m sure you’d love Hay-on-Wye.

    Maybe our paths will cross in England or Wales next time.


  13. […] over the gravestones and across the heaths and marshes out to sea. Alas, as much as we enjoy pausing for lunch in such a location, we hadn’t packed a picnic for the […]

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