Taking the coastal scenic roads to Prestatyn, Rhyl and Colwyn Bay.
It was a beautiful summer day when I decided to go and visit Prestatyn, I had heard that the beaches in North Wales, particularly on this stretch were very much like the resorts in England such as Blackpool and Skegness with “kiss me quick” hats and arcades and candy floss. And I have to say they were right, it was very much like that but I think each holiday destination has its own individuality and these three towns were like that. Prestatyn was the first I came to, heading over from Afonwen where I am staying. As you approach the town, you can see the sea so I headed for the seafront road, it is easy to park with many parking spaces all along the front, a lovely flat sand beach and looking out to sea it hits you, the wind turbines, which I think look magnificent but I know a lot of people would probably complain about.
The North Hoyle Offshore windfarm was opened in 2003, situated in Liverpool bay, 5 miles off the coast of Prestatyn. It was the UKs first major windfarm with 30 turbines producing up to 60 megawatts of power, enough to power 40,000 homes. They look quite majestic all in rows out in the middle of the sea as far as the eye can see.
Prestatyn is believed to date back to prehistoric times from the artefacts found in caves in the area. The name derives from the old English preosta (priest) and tun (farm) and was recorded in the Domesday Book as Prestetone which eventually the Welsh changed to Prestatyn.
I took a short walk along the beach but it was so hot on the day I came (without beach wear and swimwear) so I went back to the car and drove on the coast road to the next town of Rhyl which was pretty similar, you could still see the wind turbines out to sea and the beach was very much the same, with good parking but with more amusements along the seafront in certain parts. The seaside town trade has deteriorated over the years with more and more people going abroad for guaranteed sunshine but there was still quite a few people on the beaches but they weren’t overcrowded which was lovely.
Rhyl was once an elegant Victorian holiday resort where people came from all over Britain to spend their holidays, but now due to the declining holiday industry the area had previously fallen into disrepair but thanks to the help of European funding a regeneration scheme is firmly in place with new promenades and retail areas with a Seaquarium on the seafront. The regeneration is so far looking good and it is great to be able to drive along the seafront for miles between the resorts.
After Rhyl it was onto Colwyn Bay, my favourite of the three, I suppose it seemed like it had more character, because it was a bay there was more to look out at instead of just sea, the curve of the bay was very scenic and reminded me of my recent visit to Sardinia, the colours of the houses on the coastline and the greenery along with the blue sea and skies just made it look very Mediterranean.
I also loved the old pier which I imagined had once stood with pride in the middle of another long stretch of beach, but now it was fenced off and pronounced dangerous to the public. It was named Victoria pier and is a grade 2 listed pier. The official opening was June 1st 1900, over the years it has been owned by numerous people including community groups, private companies, local council who have all tried to change the original structure and provide various entertainment venues on and around it, but it has had a lot of bad luck, no less than four fires damaging much of the structure over the years has meant it is now considered dangerous. It was given the go ahead for demolition and removal this year but no work has started as yet, there is also a dispute between the council and its previous owners about rates unpaid. It seems doomed to end up a pile of rubble in some landfill site which would be a terrible shame, as it still retains much of its original features including the wrought iron fence surrounding the decks which now sadly looks rusted and forlorn, there is grass and other plants growing out of the roof of one of the buildings on the deck with pigeons living in the rafters, it’s such a sad sight, I wish I had the money, I would spend it on bringing the pier back to its former glory but it would take a lottery win to invigorate this wonderful structure. The battle for ownership and demolishing continues between the Conwy council and the previous owners with no end in sight, it will cost between 1.5 to 2 million to demolish. As the battle continues it falls further into disrepair.
Colwyn Bay has also been granted European funding for regeneration and a lot has been done to improve the seafront area with more work due to start next week. As part of the regeneration Conwy council commissioned an art project entitled “on the beach” which is a programme of new art works from Freshwest as part of the promenade enhancements. Over 1000 photographs were taken and artists picked 130, carefully drew around their outline to produce the silhouettes which have been attached to the seafront wall while some have been made into free standing sculptures on the seafront and they look very effective. Apparently the act of drawing someone’s silhouette was performed on the pier years ago and people commissioned the artist to draw them and their families while on their holidays. I suppose it’s similar to the caricatures that are sometimes drawn by the street artists in various holiday destinations today.