Gwrych Castle, Abergele, North Wales

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Submitted by a lady from Bradford, West Yorkshire

Gwrych Castle was a wonderful place for a holiday. It was like living the life of the rich

Many years ago when we were younger my parents took us away on holiday every year. For about ten years we always went to the same place. Gwrych Castle in Abergele, North Wales. This was a historic castle that was open to the public for viewing but also part of it had been converted into self contained holiday flatlets of various sizes. There were about 9 or 10 altogether. At the beginning we used to take just the largest apartment - there were quite few of us. My father, mother, grandmother, 2 sisters and myself. Later as we got older and gained steady boyfriends we ended up with more flats. At first just one apartment for the boys to share and then finally yet another one when my youngest sister and her boyfriend got married.

Being at Gwrych was like being in heaven to us children. We always went the same week and so did the people who rented the other appartments so over the years we all became very friendly. There was a girl from Birmingham, Hilary, who was my age also two other girls both called Diane who used to come with one of their parents plus we got to know everyone who worked there as it was a bit of a family run concern. It used to make the holiday even better knowing that we would be meeting up with all our friends and it meant we didn't have to spend all our time with our parents.

The castle itself was marvellous. To get to it you had to go through some gates and then up a long drive surrounded by fields on either side. At the bottom of the drive just inside the gates was a camp site for touring caravans and tents. There used to be a bus which picked people up at Pensarn Station on the coast and took them direct to the castle. It only had two stops, 1 at the station and the other in the visitors car park at the castle. It was about a quarter hours drive but about 45 minutes if you walked. The bus wasn't supposed to pick people up on the way but as we became well known the driver would stop and pick us up if he saw us on the way.

The castle as I said was open to the public with various parts roped off, saying 'Private' and 'Do not enter'. These were the parts that were closed to the public. Many people came to see the castle - it was full of works of art, suits of armour and all the other things stately homes have in abundance. Because we were staying in the castle we were allowed in all the parts that were closed to the public. There was a marvellous large marble staircase from the entrance hall. Visitors could walk up the middle of it but the side were roped off. We always used this way to get to the appartments as you cannot imagine the thrill we got from stepping over the ropes in front of lots of visitors and going through the doors marked private. We really felt as though we were rich and the castle was our home.

The castle was in many acres of grounds. Rolling lawns to the front and sides with woods to the back. We spent many hours wandering the nature trails in the woods walking miles. On the top terrace of the castle was a miniature railway we could ride on and a small zoo. On the bottom terrace there was a large marquee and in an afternoon ther was music played on an organ in this with singing and dancing. Sometimes there were even a few games for the children.

The old stables had been turned into a coffee bar which during the 60's was a popular place for the teenagers. We all spent quite a few afternoons in there listening to the latest tunes on the jukebox and chatting with all and sundry.

There was also another driveway from the castle down to the beach. This was a private drive but we were allowed to use it. It was about 15 minutes walk so when the weather was really sunny we would go to the beach.

When I look back on those holidays I always remember them with affection and rose coloured glasses. The weather was always glorious and the days were long. None of our parents ever had worries about what we were up to or where we were as they knew we had made lots of friends in the area. Also it was a lot safer in those day to go out and about than it is nowadays. Recently I took my daughter on a drive to Wales to show her the castle. Unfortunately it is now a ruin with 'keep out' signs. What a shame. I would have loved to have gone back there for a holiday. I wonder sometimes what happened to all the friends I made there.

©Mark Baker 2003