Quick Guide to Local Places to Visit

Llyngwril Gallery
Llyngwril, Gwynedd. Tel: 01341 250054
Website: www.llwyngwril-gallery.co.uk

This is an arts gallery, which is not just an arts gallery. With its very own restaurant and shop, this centre hosts a series of inventive exhibitions and workshops throughout the year.

Centre for Alternative Technology
Machynlleth, Powys. Website: www.cat.org.uk

This pioneering eco-centre in the heart of mid-Wales offers visitors a year round programme of exciting and informative events, such as Energy Saving Week or Organic Fortnight. Diners are also eligible for free tea or coffee with every meal bought at the on-site restaurant.

Day-trippers should of course not forget to tour all the exciting range of exhibits on greener living and make a point of using the inter-active displays for advice on how to reduce their carbon footprint.

Meirion Mill
Dinas Mawddwy, Gwynedd SY20 - Wales, UK
Phone: +44 (0)1650 531311

Meirion Mill has an extensive range of gifts on offer which typically include woollens, rugs, throws, sheepskins, clothing, crafts, jewellery, pottery and slate craft.

With amazing views of the mountains and local river, Dyfi, the mill was originally the terminus of the old Mawddwy railway. When the local woollen trade was at its height, donkeys were used to take flannel across the bridge next to the mill's entrance, so that it could be traded at markets in England. Arthur's last battle ground of Camlann, is supposedly also to be found in the nearby valley. Look out for signposts.

Rhug Farm
1 mile west of Corwen, Denbighshire, LL21 OEH. Tel: 01490 413000 Website: www.rhug.co.uk

Owned by Lord Newborough, the Rhug Estate totals a massive 1050 hectares which is said to make it one of the largest organic farms in all of Wales. Open 7 days a week, there are over 1000 gourmet lines on sale at the farm's comprehensively stocked on-site shop. Visitors can also explore the farm's many walking trails or take a tour of its extensive grounds to see the burgeoning stocks of farm animals and wildlife.

Portmeirion
Off A487, take turning for Minffordd, Portmeirion, Gwynedd. Tel: 01766 770000 Website: www.portmeirion-village.com

This Italianate-style village sees over 250,000 visitors through its gates each year. As an homage to baroque and rococo style architecture, as envisioned by creator Clough Williams-Ellis, this area is perhaps best known as the impressive back-drop to the classic 60s' series, The Prisoner.

With an ever-growing range of original and innovative on-site shops, visitors can browse the own-label pottery produced by Williams-Ellis' daughter, Susan, or perhaps buy some of the tempting range of Portmeirion chocolates or champagne. There is also a shop entirely devoted to Prisoner memorabilia, and the others include a fascinating stationery outlet and an art gallery. With three restaurants on site, in addition to Cadwalladr's Ice Cream parlour, there should be something to satisfy most visitors' tastes and needs.

Tyn-y-Groes
Ganllywd, (5 miles north of Dolgellau off the A470)

Given 'rave reviews' by restaurant critic, Victor Lewis Smith, who once wrote for the London Evening Standard and also as a food columnist for The Guardian, this hard-to-please bon viveur said it was hard to fault the bara brith. Most locals and visitors to Glyn-yr-Aur find it hard not to like the food, drink, friendly crowd and their amiable banter aswell.

George III, Penmaenpool
Penmaenpool, Dolgellau, Gwynedd LL40 1YD
Tel: 01341 422525 Website: www.georgethethird.co.uk/index.php

Set on the banks of the Mawddach Estuary, this inn was originally two dwellings - a ship chandlers serving the local boat building industry, and a pub.

This small hotel offers food sourced as locally as possible. Specialities include Meirionnydd Mountain Lamb and Berwyn Bred Welsh Black Beef and a range of fresh fish.

It is open throughout the year for morning coffee, lunches, snacks, afternoon teas and evening meals.

Dolfrwynog Tea Garden
Dolfrwynog, Coed-y-Brenin, Dollgellau, Gwynedd (2 miles from Glyn-yr-Aur)

With a superb range of hot and cold drinks and snacks, the Dolfrwynog Tea Garden is the perfect place to relax before, during or after a day spent walking, cycling or running. Moreover, after a long day out, the exceptional array of tempting cakes are also perfect for taking home for supper.

Ynys-Hir RSPB Nature Reserve
Eglwysfach, Machynlleth, Powys. Tel: 01654 781328

Bird watchers and wild-life enthusiasts should make a point of dropping in at the RSPB Nature Reserve near Machynlleth. Whatever the time of year, staff are on hand to advise on the latest resident birds to look out for.

Coed-y-Brenin Visitors Centre
(8 miles north of Dolgellau off the A470) Dolgefeiliau, Dolgellau LL40 2HZ Tel: 01341 440 742 Website: www.forestry.gov.uk/wales

Officially opened in 2006, this new multi-million pound visitors' centre has been created to provide an exceptional base from which to explore the Coed-y-Brenin forest park. With a on-site shop, cafe, showers, bike hire and information centre, there is little that has not been thought off to accommodate any visiting guests. Many of the biking and walking trails start from here, and reasonably priced information packs can also be bought in a bid to demystify all of the 9000 hectares that there are to uncover and explore.

Clwyd Theatr, Cymru
Mold, Flintshire, North Wales CH7 1YA Box Office: 0845 330 3565 Website: www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk Recorded information: 01352 701515

In the heart of the stunning North Wales' countryside, and about 1 hr 30 minutes drive from Glyn-yr-Aur, this theatre is famed for its excellent year-round calendar of plays, musical and cinematic performances.

With two theatres and a cinema, visitors are assured an exceptionally rewarding evening's entertainment. There's also a restaurant (The Bistro) on site where theatre-goers can dine before a performance.

National Library of Wales
Aberystwyth Website: www.llgc.org.uk
Opening times: 10.00am - 5.00pm, Mon - Sat , all year

The National Library of Wales celebrated its centenary in 2007 and is reported to be one of the most important repositories for facts, figures and information about Celtic culture in the whole of the principality.

Exhibitions and live performances are regularly staged here. Check out the library's website to find out more.

Ceredigion Museum
Coliseum, Terrace Road, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 2AQ
Phone: 01970 633088 (with 24-hour answer machine)
Website: http://museum.ceredigion.gov.uk
Opening times: 10.00am - 5.00pm, Mon-Sat, all year Admission: free

Housed in a former music hall, Ceredigion Museum is said to be treasure trove of information about Wales in Victorian times.

There are exhibitions describing life and conditions for gentry and the average person in addition to a collection of model ships and much, much more.

MOMA Wales (Museum of Modern Art)
Heol Penrallt, Machynlleth, Powys SY20 8AJ Tel: 01654 703355 Website: www.momawales.org.uk
Opening times: 10.00am - 4.00pm, Mon - Sat, all year (except Xmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day) Admission: free

This museum is said to house some of the best examples of modern art in Wales. Much of the work in the six exhibition spaces is also said to be for sale. Next door to the centre is Y Tabernacl, a performing arts centre, that was formerly as Wesleyan chapel. There is also a programme of theatre, film and music staged here throughout the year.

Welsh Mountain Zoo
Colwyn Bay, LL28 5UY Tel: 01492 532938 Website: www.welshmountainzoo.org
Opening times: All year except Christmas Day, from 9.30am

Open all year round, the Welsh Mountain Zoo offers young and old alike a chance to see an exciting array of animals from around the world. People can watch in wonder as the penguins take a dive for an underwater swim or watch some of the many sealion shows held regularly at the zoo.

Other attractions to look out for are Alligator Beach, Jungle Adventureland and the Tarzan Trail.

Lloyd George Museum
Llanystumdwy, Criccieth, Gwynedd LL52 OSH
Tel: 01766 522071 Website: lloydgeorgemuseum@gwynedd.gov.uk

Learn about the life of legendary Welsh Wizard, David Lloyd George, the Liberal politician who was the first to introduce old aged pensions to the UK and licensing laws to control alcohol consumption.

There are unique collections of items from his rich and varied life, in addition to reels of film footage that chart major events in his political life. The museum itself is situated in the village where the young Lloyd George grew up.

Iron Ring of Castles: Harlech, Carnaervon, Beaumaris and Conwy
Website: www.cadw.wales.gov.uk

The Romans, Normans, Vikings and successive English kings have over the course of many centuries had their hearts set on conquering Wales. But 13th century King Edward I was the only way to make serious inroads into forcing the Welsh to become part of his kingdom.. And this he achieved by embarking on an amazing castle building programme of over 20 castles in a bid to maintain his supremacy throughout the principality.

Among the most famous of the castles are Harlech, Carnaervon, Beaumaris and Conwy, who are all now classed as World Heritage Sites.

Harlech and Carnaervon and Conwy all take pride of place in towns that have the same name. While Beaumaris can be found in Anglesey.

Harlech is based on the coast not far from Dolgellau and Glyn-yr-Aur, while the remaining castles are all located further up along the North Wales coastline.

They are all simply magnificent in their own right and are well worth exploring, whatever the time of year. Check out the Cadw website above for more details about opening times and special events.