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Wales Has it All

A Castle Tour of Wales

My family is Welsh and in my youth I spent many vacations traveling the mountains and valleys of Wales. I was unimpressed. Now, many years later, with my own children grown, I have come to appreciate the beauty and splendor of the country that was home to my ancestors for generations.

Here are my suggestions for a castle tour of Wales:

After flying into Manchester or Birmingham airports (and thus avoiding London's congestion), pick up a car and take the M56 or M54 to the Welsh border. Start at the border town of Mold and follow the coastline of North Wales to the city of Caernarfon and its castles. In 1969 Prince Charles, the present Prince of Wales, was invested there by his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

It is important to Welsh people that visitors do not refer to everything as English. British is acceptable but many visitors do not realize that Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are individual countries known collectively as Great Britain or the United Kingdom.

Drive across from Caernarfon to the much smaller town of Harlech, only about 20 or 30 miles. Like Caernarfon, Harlech was built by Edward I in the 13th century to overawe Wales. There are wonderful views of the Snowdon mountains.

Powys Castle, inland near the town of Welshpool on the border with England, is one of Wales' most impressive castles. It also dates from late 13th century. Powys has been the home of the Herbert family for over 400 years. The Clive Museum displays treasures brought from India by Clive and his son.

The National Trust has a publication listing all the castles and gardens in Wales; it may be worthwhile to join the Trust as an overseas member in order to save on admission fees. For details of membership write to The National Trust Membership Dept., Bromley, Kent, BR1 1UG U.K.; 011-44-2083151111.

For a free booklet on facilities for persons with disabilities write to The National Trust, Trinity Square, Llandudno, LL30 2DE U.K.