Perched on top of a rock, Harlech Castle towers over the North Wales countryside. One of the country’s most impressive medieval castles, it was built by Edward I in the 13th century during his invasion of Wales. It was heavily fortified with two rings of walls and towers and constructed at the top of an almost vertical cliff with the sea below, so there was no chance of anyone sneaking up on you. But that didn’t stop Owain Glyndwr capturing it for the Welsh in 1404 – and the English capturing it back five years later. Today the internal wooden floors of the castle have rotted away and years of coastal deposits mean the water’s edge is a few hundred metres away. But the sturdy stone battlements remain, and the castle has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can climb to the top of the towers and walk the ancient walls, with panoramic views of the coast in one direction and the mountains of Snowdonia in the other.
Harlech Castle is open 9.30am–5pm (6pm in July/August) from March to October and 10am–4pm from November to February. Entry costs £4.25 for adults and £3.20 for children, students and seniors. A new visitors’ centre is currently being built which is due to open later this year.