Great Orme Summit in Llandudno-epic Wales by drone. Love you Cymru!

 

We nipped up to North Wales one weekend, mainly because I wanted to visit Holywell in Flintshire to see the St Winefride’s Well and probably even bathe in it, having heard of it’s curative powers. As it happened we arrived on a Sunday- a holy enough day not to be working or bathing in holy waters, so that idea went out of the window straight away. Nevertheless, it is such an interesting place. As the story goes, Winifred was the daughter of a chieftain of Tegeingl, Welsh nobleman. Her mother was Wenlo, a sister of Saint Beuno and a member of a family closely connected with the kings of south Wales. Her suitor, Caradog, was enraged when she decided to become a nun, and decapitated her. In one version of the tale, her head rolled downhill, and, where it stopped, a healing spring appeared. Winifred’s head was subsequently rejoined to her body due to the efforts of her maternal uncle, Saint Beuno, and she was restored to life. Seeing the murderer leaning on his sword with an insolent and defiant air, St. Beuno invoked the chastisement of heaven, and Caradog fell dead on the spot, the popular belief being that the ground opened and swallowed him. St. Beuno left Holywell, and returned to Caernarfon. Before he left the tradition is that he seated himself upon the stone, which now stands in the outer well pool, and there promised in the name of God “that whosoever on that spot should thrice ask for a benefit from God in the name of St. Winefride would obtain the grace he asked if it was for the good of his soul.” Since about 660 many Christian pilgrims from all over the world continue to visit Holywell and bathe in the curative waters of the Well (except on Sundays).

 

The visitor centre is full of old crutches, so not sure how many people have been truly cured by those holy waters and whether the “cure” can be attributed to the placebo effect or something else, but the water tastes good and the chapel decorated with vitrages depicting the humble St. Winefride and her saviour Saint Beuno give off the air of tranquillity perfect for a brief retreat from the daily grind. It was also rather interesting observing the many visitors to the well- families washing their holy relics under the tap for purification purposes and splashing water on their kids. The human mind is a curious thing and it seems like even in our highly technological age our souls are looking to fill a spiritual hole with ritual and “that intangible something” to give us protection from harm and charm for good luck.

The weather was great, so good old Google once again showed us a lovely bit of land at Llandudno, which looked like it would be perfect for droning and indeed, it did not disappoint. It’s a lovely sea-side resort, minus  the litter and run down houses. It’s pleasingly clean and full of freshly painted Victorian houses, albeit as droning folk we never had time to enjoy any of the wonderful Llandudno Pier nor the other Victorian extravaganza, but headed straight for the Great Orme to make the most of the sunshine.

One has to pay £3 for the privilege of driving on the Marine Drive, which takes you around the whole of the The Great Orme headland – a massive chunk of limestone rising 207 m/679 ft straight out of the sea, but it’s well worth the cash. The 6.4 km (4 mile) drive is simply epic. You start at the foot of the Happy Valley and after about 2.4 km (1.5 miles) a side road (pretty zig-zaggy one) leads to St. Tudno’s Church, the Great Orme Bronze Age Copper Mine and the summit of the Great Orme. There is so much to see and do here. You can commit to some pretty challenging hikes here and enjoy the local scenery or simply hop on the cable-hauled Great Orme Tramway or the Llandudno Cable Car and glide from the summit all they way back to Happy Valley taking in the jaw-dropping panorama. There is a rather curious slope side here as well towards the Western Shore- full of modern day equivalents of megalithic stone circles- people’s names written to the hillside with rocks taken from the nearby quarry. See the last scene of the video and try to spot your name if you’ve been the one bothering to carry all those rocks up the hill. Let’s hope your name was not Llanfairpwllgwyngyll or something, as it would have taken you a while to get that written is all I can say….