Wales is where Fangirl Quest got started and the country will always hold a special place in our hearts. This year Wales is celebrating the Year of Legends, bringing together storytelling and movie magic with the country’s rich history and stunning landscape.
Not only is it a perfect theme for our travels but the TV advert stars one of our favourite movie dudes, Luke Evans!
In February 2017 we spent a week on the road in Wales, visiting several filming locations and adventuring around the country. Our travels started in North Wales, home to the ruggedly beautiful Snowdonia National Park as well as many other interesting destinations.
The walled castle town of Conwy
Sometimes referred to as ‘The Castle Capital of the World’, Wales has hundreds of castles you can visit. Many have been used as filming locations but some are interesting for other reasons. Conwy Castle falls into the latter category. Built in the 13th century, it is remarkably well preserved and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entire town is walled, so starting from the castle you can walk around the whole of Conwy atop the battlements. You can also purchase awesome King Arthur swords from the gift shop and take dorky 360° photos but maybe that’s just us…
Sand dunes on Anglesey
From Conwy we drove on to Anglesey, an island off the north-west coast of Wales. We were headed to the sand dunes of the National Nature Reserve of Newborough Warren. It’s a beautiful area for hiking but as we were short on time, we headed straight to Ynys Llanddwyn: a small tidal island that was the filming location for both Clash of the Titans and Half Light. We found the spot from Clash of the Titans and snapped a lovely frame from the movie. The beaches are beautiful, and the view of Snowdonia is quite magnificent, so we hope to go back with more time (and hopefully warmer weather).
Snowdonia National Park
We had lots of plans for Snowdonia. Big plans. We were planning to hike up to Dinorwig Quarry to snap some Clash of the Titans and Willow sceneframes, find the camping ground at Llyn Gwynant that posed as a Chinese village in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and we hoped we might even spot the place at Llyn Trawsfynydd where the legendary Camelot was in the movie First Knight.
Unfortunately the weather had other plans.
We don’t despair easily in the face of difficulties when looking for locations, but this time we came pretty close to just giving up. Luckily we didn’t though, because towards the evening we finally caught a break! We knew that parts of the new movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword had been filmed in the area around Llyn Ogwen, near our hotel for the next night. The new King Arthur movie isn’t even in the theaters yet, it comes out in May 2017, and we had no idea about the exact locations, just the general area where some scenes were filmed. The only pictures we had were a couple of screenshots from the trailer and some promo shots. But sometimes, just sometimes, perseverance pays off and luck is on your side. You can read the whole story of how we managed to find just the right spots and snap some awesome sceneframes from a movie that hasn’t even been released yet here.
Bouncing around at Zip World
Our last destination before leaving the majestic mountains of Snowdonia behind was Zip World, in the historic mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. The old slate mine has been turned into an incredible adventure park, complete with the largest zip zone in Europe, Zip World Titan. Unfortunately for us, the over 2-kilometer long zipline is only open from spring until autumn. Titan is definitely something we want to experience, though, and this is one of those destinations we hope to get back to as soon as possible!
The massive zipline is not the only adventure Zip World has to offer. The rest of the activities are hidden inside the old mine. We got to experience Bounce Below, a massive maze of bouncy cargo nets and tube slides. Once we found our footing and got over the fact that the highest nets are REALLY high up in the cave, we had a blast! I can imagine the place is pure heaven for kids but even us (almost) adults enjoyed exploring all the nooks and tunnels of the site and even managed to capture some slow motion video of our bouncing.