Wales, Scotland, England, Ireland . . . all have distinct qualities, unique land masses, and an unexplainable Celtic charm. Each country is entirely different yet similar. Their histories will forever be untwined. Many travelers to the United Kingdom probably have Ireland and Scotland marked down on their itinerary, but perhaps not Wales. ‘Is there actually anything to take pictures of besides mountains and roads?’ they ask. There areactually plenty of things in Wales to keep a photographer very happy.
British mountains are somewhat different than the snow-covered mountains we usually see in America. They are often grassy, sloping, and in some places they seem to rise directly out of the grassy meadows. Wales, all in all, is an amazing place and a dream for any traveler (or photographer) who wants to experience something out of the ordinary.
Historic and Venerable Castles of Wales
Strangely, the Castles of Wales almost always have a foreign flavor due to the Norman-French conquerors who constructed these edifices to protect their land holdings in the country.
One particularly beautiful structure in Wales is Caerphilly Castle. This is the quintessential medieval castle, cold stone, symmetrical shape, foreboding and mighty. It was constructed in the 1200s and looks basically as it did in those times. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the exterior is the huge gate; one can easily imagine knights on horseback riding through this medieval entrance. Keep the camera handy for great views such as water flow under the castle walls. Inside, Caerphilly has an even stronger feel of the past. Various family shields decorate the walls of the Great Hall, and simple wooden tables accent the room.
Ruins of Dolwyddelan Castle
Though nowhere near as large as Caerphilly, the Welsh ruins of Dolwyddelan (try pronouncing it!) evoke a different kind of imagery. The famous Welsh ruler Llewelyn the Great supposedly came into the world in this very castle when it enjoyed its better days. A sturdy, ominous stone tower remains, giving a slight inkling of what power Dolwyddelan possessed. One great photo opportunity is the remains of the old stone steps leading up to the castle; they seem to have some sort of Druid symbolism.
Check out some castle websites to find out exactly what Wales has to offer; there are too many castles to list in this article! These websites will probably include castles that can be toured and those that are in ruins.
Natural Scenery and Lovely Residential Areas
The area of Abergavenny is a great place for photographers. There are some lovely homes in the region ranging from stately (Glangrwyney Court and Highfield House) to quaint (Jinks Cottage). Abergavenny also has old castle ruins, famous for their dark associations and medieval horror story. Make sure to take plenty of time to photograph the many facets of Abergavenny.
Some great places to capture natural scenery:
(1) Snowdonia (Eryri) National Park is one of the most amazing places in the United Kingdom. To say its views are beautiful is a total understatement. The mountain walks aren’t for the faint of heart, but a photographer’s views from the top are well worth the effort. If hiking steep trails isn’t for you, Eryri also has twelve walking paths with whimsical, unpronounceable names like Trawsfynydd, Maenwrog, and Pwllheli. Taking a Welsh dictionary never hurts!
(2) Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is a lovely place to get great photos and relax at the same time. Like Snowdonia’s park, there are various walking options for those who like to get physical during their vacation. Pembrokeshire Coast’s trails actually take up over 600 miles! You may be particularly interested in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Trail which offers stunning sea views and the opportunity to photograph striking land masses that pose strangely in the middle of the water. Different parts of the park offer a variety of options from difficult paths to gentle walks. There are even paths for those confined to wheelchairs.
While in the area, don’t forget to check out Pembroke Castle!
Wales is a country with something for everyone. For photographers who want to capture the village life and aren’t really interested in strenuous walking trails, the many cities and villages of Wales should certainly satisfy that longing. Don’t forget to research to see which places suit your criteria. And don’t be surprised to find yourself longing to return to Wales as soon as you get home.