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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Great Orme - God's Work at its Best!

As this blog is all about Llandudno and its various attractions I thought I would start with the one closest to my heart – The Great Orme – as I actually live there!
Just to give you a bit of background before we start The Great Orme is a headland 2 miles long, 1 mile wide and which rises to 207 metres above sea level at its highest point.

It was formed 300 million years ago on a tropical seabed and is made from Carboniferous Limestone, which was subject to later volcanic activity causing it to rise and crack forming the headland that we see today.

The Great Orme lies at the north end of Llandudno in North Wales with the North Shore and main part of the town to its right and the quieter more residential West Shore to its left, viewed looking from land out to sea.

The Great Orme has been designated a Special Area of Conservation, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Heritage Coast, and it is managed as a Country Park and Local Nature Reserve by Conwy Countryside Service.
The Orme is home to a herd of feral Kashmir goats, which are a pure breed dating back to the 1890's and they can be seen roaming about eating everything they can find!

There are gardens on the slopes of the Great Orme, the main one being Happy Valley, which is clearly visible from the beach and the pier.

Haulfre Gardens form the first part of Invalids Walk on the west side of the Orme. This is so called because it is a gentle sloping path across the face the Orme from the gardens down to the West Shore and can easily be negotiated by almost anyone. There are also plenty of benches along the way where you can sit and look at the magnificent views of West Shore beach with Conwy Castle and Anglesey in the background.

For the more active walkers amongst you there are numerous paths, which lead right up to the summit of the Orme. The Summit Path starts from Happy Valley and goes in an arc past the 13th century church of St Tudno's, where there are open air services every Sunday during the summer, and the Zig Zag Summit Path starts from either Haulfre Gardens or from part way along the Invalids Walk. There are numerous other paths including a nature trail, an historical trail and the Monk's Path, which it is said remains green and fertile even when the weather is very dry! 

You can also drive up to the top of the Great Orme by one of two routes; either directly from the town via a road next to the Empire Hotel or by taking the Marine Drive around the base of the Orme and bearing left about halfway round. This takes you a less direct route past St Tudno's Church.

I will just say that if you use the Marine Drive around the base, which is a one-way road from the North Shore all the way round to the West Shore it is a toll road and will cost you £2.50. The cost does however cover parking at the car park next to the Summit Complex.
Half way round the Marine Drive is the Rest and Be Thankful Café. I can assure you that when you walk the four and a half miles around Marine Drive you do 'rest and be thankful' when you get there!

There is a local bus service, which runs from the town up to the summit and a scenic tour bus, which is an old single decked boneshaker doing tours around Marine Drive.

Another way to get to the top of the Orme is by using the Victorian Tramway, which travels from a stop in town up to the summit in two separate stretches - you change trams halfway up. These open sided trams provide an amazing ride at an incredibly steep angle.

The final way to reach the top of the Great Orme is by catching the cable car in Happy Valley, which takes you to a point next to the Summit Complex at the top. The cars carry two people at a time and are the open sided sort so they do only run when the weather is appropriate, but they are well worth a try.
At the top of the Orme there is a pay and display car park and a Summit Complex, which consists of a visitor centre, café/restaurant where you can get all sorts of snacks and meals, a small shop, a pub and a small amusement arcade. There is also a Crazy Golf course and a good play area for the children with climbing frames, slides, swings etc., all set in a fenced off area to keep the children safe.

Apart from the goats that I have already mentioned The Great Orme is home to wide range of wildlife including guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, ravens and little owls, as well as butterflies by the 'cloud' and numerous rare species of plants.

The other main attraction on the Great Orme is the Bronze Age Copper Mines, which are located next to the Halfway Tram station.
All over the Orme there are relics of the past inhabitants from stone circles to fossils and hill forts to previously inhabited caves, all ready to explore providing you take care both with the countryside itself and your own safety on the paths and climbs.

I can only say that words cannot express the beauty, splendour and majesty of the Great Orme so you'll have to come and see this wonderful example of God's work for yourself.

One final comment, if you are visiting, do remember that being a seaside town all things are seasonal and the attractions on the Orme are mainly open from Easter until October each year.


  1. What a great post. Lots of things to try on our next visit. I enjoyed the BBC Coast episode about the Orme, don't know if you saw it?

  2. I cannot wait to come back to Llandudno in June I love the area so much.

  3. We're planning a trip soon too - I miss long walks around the Orme.