Today we begin a series of four articles that look at travel to Great Britain. Each article will focus on one of the four main countries that make up the union.
Wales is the smallest part of Great Britain. It has a changeable maritime climate and is one of the wettest countries in Europe. For 150 years during the Industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Wales played a central part due to the mining industries which extracted gold, silver, coal, copper, iron, lead, and slate. From the middle of the 19th century until the mid-eighties the mining and export of coal in particular, played a major part in the welsh economy.
Cardiff is the capital and is located in the south at the mouth of the river Severn. Cardiff was granted city status in the 13th Century but stayed a relatively small city and only grew rapidly with industrialisation and coal mining. Today the harbour is a buzzing and vibrant place with hotels, restaurants, bars and shops. Cardiff is very popular with film production companies and quite a few worldwide known TV series and films have been made here in the last few years. Cardiff is an easy place to get to and the road and train networks serve the rest of the Country with direct connections to and from London and other major cities.
Wales has its own distinct language and is for many people a source of national identity. Especially in the north and west of the country where the language is still widely spoken. In 1993 the Welsh language attained an equal standing with the English language, which shows in bilingual road signs and education. With its own parliament now in place known as the National Assembly for Wales, large efforts have been made to promote the Welsh language. Every school pupil in Wales has to learn Welsh either as first or second language and some or all subject lessons are taught in Welsh.
Wales has four regions: North, Mid, South and West. There are three national parks that offer a lot of opportunities for the active holidaymaker, the coast of Pembrokeshire in the Southwest, the Brecon Beacons in Mid Wales and Snowdonia in the North. You can reach the Brecon Beacons National Park from Cardiff in about an hour. There are lots of paths and trails for hikers, cyclists, joggers, mountain bikers, horse riders and many types of adventure sports. There are quite a few medieval castles, abbeys, cathedrals and other historical buildings for visitors with an interest in history. The national parks also offer great opportunities for observing animals, with luck you can spot otters, rare butterflies, bats and barn owls to name but a few. The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal is a beautiful waterway to walk, run or cycle along the towpath or to experience from a narrow boat. The many locks offer great entertainment.
Snowdonia is the oldest and biggest national park in Wales. Some of the highest peaks in Great Britain and the highest mountains outside Scotland are in Snowdonia. The name of the park comes from Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales. Many hikers concentrate on the Snowdon region, but it can be very busy in peak season. There is also a mountain railway going to the top so you can take the easy route if you want the amazing views without the hard work! There is also a restaurant at the top serving climbers and railway passengers alike.
There are fantastic trails for mountain bikers, Zip World Velocity is the longest zipline in Europe and the fastest worldwide. There are also many castles, ruins and restored historical houses to visit.
Pembrokeshire National Park was founded mainly for its long, breath-taking coastline. There are landscapes of harsh cliffs, beautiful beaches, river delta, hillsides and moors. The Pembrokeshire coastal path is a designated national trail and is 299km long in total but can be enjoyed at any length and from a multitude of locations.
For more information on visiting Wales see the official website.
If you’re going to travel to Great Britain you will need the British pound so before you travel check out the best exchange rates at www.compareholidaymoney.com.au .