Colwyn Bay is a coastal town in north Wales. The impetus for the creation of what became colwyn bay was the 1865 sale of the the Pwllycrochan and Bodlondeb estates, which comprised approximately 3,000 acres. In a few short years Colwyn Bay grew from a small rural village to a once a fashionable resort and thriving commercial town. Today, as with many British holiday resorts, the town has suffered with the decline in the tourist industry since the arrival of foreign package tourism in the mid-twentieth century. Arguably, the improved access provided by the building of the A55 to north Wales, even accelerated Colwyn Bay's tourist decline as it became easier to reach areas such as Snowdonia and Anglesea further west.
While it does not have the charm of nearby Llandudno, it hasn't declined as much as nearby Rhyl. 'Not as bad a Rhyl' may not sound like a great advert but Colwyn Bay still has many interesting locations. Many of the buildings are well designed and have intrinsic qualities and were largely designed by the architects Sydney Colwyn Foulkes and Lawrence Booth.
There is a 2013 watersports centre with free outdoor showers and is a NEW beach. This is a 'man-made' addition to the existing beach which raises the sand level by 3 metres. 20,000 tonnes of sand was recovered by a dredger 20 miles out to sea and was brought to shore in a mile long pipeline. This has created a 'permanent' non tidal section which means there is always 50 metres of golden sand, whatever the tide is doing!
The watersports centre is named Porth Erias has been built on a concrete groyne built on reclaimed land which along with the new beach acts as protection against coastal erosion. It has begun attracting more week-end holiday makers and 'daytrippers' from Liverpool and Manchester which are both about an hour away by car. There is a dedicated jet-ski area with high quality access ramps to the shore. The concrete groyne was created with help from Bangor University and is designed to promote bio diversity of sea creatures.
The greater Colwyn Bay area includes Old Colwyn to the east and Rhos-On-Sea at the north west end of the three mile wide bay. If you are driving past is well worth taking the detour to the coast road as there is free parking next to the sea. The pier is the biggest eyesore as its in a sad state and is currently closed. This is largely due to eccentric private ownership and an ineffective council.
The beach however is sandy and relatively big. A nice aspect of the bay is the trainline which runs along half of it and has prevented building behind the promenade, this gives a windswept feel. This is fairly unique aspect to Colwyn Bay and well worth a look on sunny and blustery days.
Several wind farms are visible from the shore. These are not pretty to some but are ultimately hypnotic and others see them as essential to a modern landscape. (Rhyl flats, Gwent-y Mor and North Hoyle). They are also drilling for gas further out to sea and some gas rigs are usually visible.
Colwyn Bay is fairly well serviced by public transport:
- Car - Colwyn Bay is right on the main east-west road passing through north Wales, the A55. Travelling west you can also leave at he exit for Llandulas and take the old road through Old Colwyn.
- Rail - Colwyn Bay station is also on the main north Wales route that services Holyhead, with it's links to Ireland. The station is at the bottom of the main shopping street - Station Road.
- Bus - The bus service up and down the North Wales coast is good. You can get direct buses to Rhyl, Llandudno, Conwy etc... The current operator is arriva. . Day Rover tickets are good value.
Buses run throughout the Colwyn Bay area.
- The Welsh Mountain Zoo. The best attraction in Colwyn Bay, while not a large zoo, the interesting location on a hillside (not quite the 'Mountain' advertised) allows for more interesting habitats for animals. A free bus usually runs from Colwyn Bay train station. However, check the zoo's website to find out when it's running.
- Eirias Park/ Parc Eirias is a large, grassy park about twenty minutes walk from the town centre. As well as the park with it's boating lake, there is a fairly well equipped leisure centre with indoor pool, squash and tennis courts, and a good athletics track and rugby field that hosts international Under 20s Rugby. There is also a new skatepark on the grounds
- The Promenade and Beach are about three miles long, while the beach is relatively sandy, it has a functional feel because of the dilapidated pier. On the promenade is the town's "Victoria Pier" which is in a sad state and in dire need of renovation. There is a great cycle track the entire length and is fun to walk when its cold and windy.
- Take in a play or a musical at Theatre Colwyn. While small, it sometimes gets interesting productons and shows films at the end of their cinematic runs.
- Bryn Euryn. Bryn Euryn is a hill overlooking Rhos-on-Sea on which there are the remains of a hillfort called Dinerth, the 'fort of the bear' Well worth a short walk for fantastic views. edit
- St Trillo's Church, (On Prom between Rhos head and Penrhyn Bay going west.). St Trillo's Church which is featured on the Rhos Heritage trail is located on the promenade overlooking the sea and is the smallest church in Wales. edit
- Porth Erias, (Promenade Colwyn Bay). New 'Permanent Beach'. Changing Rooms. Sailing School. Slipway. Play equipment. A Cafe Bistro will be opening soon. edit
The promenade includes an excellent cycle-path and can also be used for watersports and fishing.
- Walking - Colwyn Bay offers some good opportunites for walking - Bryn Euryn (see below) and Pwllycrochan Woods in Upper Colwyn Bay is also well worth visiting.
- Colwyn Bay FC, Llanelian Road, Old Colwyn (The football team play at Llanellian Road which is just off the main roundabout up from A55,Old Colwyn exit, next to the Marine pub.), ☎ 01492 514680, . Current manager ex-Chelsea player Frank Sinclair. Capacity 2500 (500) seats. They play in the English League pyramid. edit
- Old Colwyn Golf Club, Woodland Avenue, Old Colwyn, Conwy, Clwyd LL29 9NL, ☎ +44 1492 515581, . " Positioned above Old Colwyn, the course is graced with spectacular views of the glorious Welsh hills, and panoramic views of the Irish sea. " The course was designed by legendary Open winner James Braid. edit
- Fishing. Anglers come from far and wide to cast their rods into the ocean. Often there are all night fishermen who brave the winds to catch local fish all along the prom but especially the eastern section. For the more adventurous there are fishing trips that leave from Rhos Head edit
- Rhos-on-Sea Golf Club, Glan-y-Mor Road, Penrhyn Bay, Llandudno LL30 3PU (Past Rhos on Sea heading west it faces the sea wall to the left of the coastal wall.), ☎ 01492 549641, . (,18 Hole Parkland Golf Course 5965 yards SSS 69 Restaurant, Hotel and Golf shop with two full time professionals who provide coaching.) edit
- Fishing Trips, (Rhos Head), ☎ 01492 541733, . There are boats available for charter such as provided by incentive fishing. edit
- Bryn Euryn. There is nature reserve called Bryn Euryn which in particular offers great views over the local area and the ruins of Llys Euryn, a historical late medieval house and remnants of an iron age fort are worth exploring edit
- Station Road has a WH Smith's, Boot's and other independent stores. There's also a bi-weekly market on Thursdays and Saturdays, it's not that great but there's some local and freshly grown goods amongst the tat.
- The Bay View Shopping Centre Shopping in Colwyn Bayhas a Morrison's, an Iceland, an Argos, a Holland & Barratt health food shop, various 'pound' and hardware stores
- There are a few independent book and antique and second hand furniture as well as an interesting auction house on Abergele Road.
- There is an Aldi supermarket in Old Colwyn and a Lidl supermarket in the 'West End' of Colwyn Bay
There are numerous places to eat in the town. Most are independent fast food places (fish and chips, kebabs, Chinese, etc). In addition there is:
- 'The Coffee Corner' - a traditional coffee shop.
- 'The Toad' - Small food pub on promenade that doesn't look like much from outside but the food is very good standard and has won local awards. Its worth a try though you may have to book to get the best tables.
- 'Speaker's Corner' - a fair attempt at a trendy/alternative coffee shop/sometime venue.
- The 'Wetherspoons' - Built in a former cinema, it has nice atmosphere and cheap, mostly edible food.
- 'Virgilios Ristorante' - Fairly good Italian food.
- 'The Pen-Y-Bryn' - great, mostly traditional British food, for relatively good prices.
- 'The White Lion' - just outside of Colwyn Bay in Llanelian. Traditional good pub food. Not quite as good as it's reputation, but well worth a try.
Some of the pubs in Colwyn Bays have seen better days.
Many locals steer clear of the centre at night, a more salubrious night out can be found in Old Colwyn or Rhos-On Sea.
Colwyn Bay can get rough on occasions, but usually the 'Wetherspoons' is kept fairly trouble free.
- The Pen-Y-Bryn, in upper Colwyn Bay is usually a bit queiter if you prefer that kind of atmosphere. It was refitted in 2001 and has oak floors, open fires, bookcases and old furniture.
- The Picture House This Wetherspoon pub is the former Princess Cinema. Built in c1914, it was originally called the Princess Picture House.. It is near the railway station.
In Old Colwyn there are several good pubs on Abergele Road that are frequented by a more discerning crowd including
- The Red Lion
- The Sun
- The Cuckoo
- The Marine
In Rhos on Sea are several pubs including:
- The Rhos Fynach - It's on the sea front road, but on the other side of the road from the beach. The building is reputed to be the oldest building in the area and parts of it are said to date back to 1181.
Prior to the building on the A55, there used to be hundred of hotels and guest houses in Colwyn Bay but many have been closed and converted to other types of living accomodation. This was probably because the journey times from the main conurbations of Liverpool and Manchester was with the jams tortuous.
There are still some guest houses above the promenade towards Rhos-on-Sea and a smattering of hotels dotted around
- A travelodge has recently been built near the station
- Rathlin Country House (Beautiful 5 Star Country House Bed and Breakfast)
- Westpoint Hotel (B&B)
- Sunnydowns Hotel (Rhos on Sea)
- The Ashmount
- Staveley House Guest Bed & Breakfast Rhos-on-Sea
- Llandudno - A victorian seaside resort that has kept much of it's charm and well worth a visit.
- Conwy - The medieval castle and walls are excellent.
- Conwy Valley - a trip up the beautiful Conwy Valley will take you to Bodnant Gardens, Betws-Y-Coed and beyond to the Snowdonia National Park.