With a beautiful ‘Toll House’ at each end and a historic lighthouse in the middle, no visit to Llandudno would be complete without a trip around Marine Drive – the Great Orme Coastal Path.
When Cust’s path was first opened in 1858 encircling the Great Orme in Llandudno, most people wouldn’t have been too eager to walk around it! In fact, when the UK’s Prime Minister, William Gladstone, came to visit the Liddell family in 1868, he was so terrified that he needed to be blindfolded and led to ‘safety’!
20 years later, the ‘Great Orme’s Head Marine Drive Company’ converted the path into a private road big enough for horse and carts, making it much safer and more enjoyable for people to get around.
The sea waters around the Orme are particularly treacherous and are apparently home to over 30 shipwrecks! The Llandudno lighthouse was built in 1862 and looks more like a castle than a traditional lighthouse. Apparently, it was built in this style on the behest of Lord Mostyn, who did not want a big tower being built on the land. Unfortunately, the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1985 and the building was eventually sold on, but the lantern can still be seen in the visitor centre on the Great Orme summit.
At approximately half way, the ‘Rest & Be Thankful’ café is a welcome sight when walking around the Orme. With such incredible views, this is a great place to sit back and relax, whilst enjoying a hot drink and a much-needed piece of cake. Even on a windy day, thanks to the thick walls, friendly staff and toasty log burner, you may not want to leave!
The Great Orme also played its part during the Second World War, becoming the home to the Coastal Artillery School. Although not much still exists, the school occupied a 1 km length of the lower slopes. At the end of the war the sites were vacated and in the following decade, most of the buildings were demolished.
If you’d prefer to drive around the Orme, the £3.50 toll is worth every penny. However, it’s free to walk and the views are simply breathtaking! For more interesting facts about the geology, plants and the Kashmir goats, download the audio trail below.