The twin limestone hummocks of the 680ft Great Orme and its southern cousin the Little Orme provide a dramatic frame for the gently curving Victorian frontage of LLANDUDNO, four miles north of Conwy. Despite the arrival of more rumbustious fun-seekers to its seaside resort, Llandudno retains an undeniably dignified air, bolstered by its ever-improving selection of chic hotels and quality restaurants.
Llandudno’s early history revolves around the Great Orme, where St Tudno, who brought Christianity to the region in the sixth century, built the monastic cell that gives the town its name. In the mid-nineteenth century, local landowner Edward Mostyn exploited the growing craze for sea-bathing and built a town for the upper-middle classes which quickly became synonymous with the Victorian ideal of a respectable seaside resort..
The Great Orme
The view from the top of the Great Orme (Pen y Gogarth) ranks with those from the far loftier summits in Snowdonia, combining the seascapes east towards Rhyl and west over the sands of the Conwy Estuary with the brooding, quarry-chewed northern limit of the Carneddau range where Snowdonia crashes into the sea. This huge lump of carboniferous limestone was subject to some of the same stresses that folded Snowdonia, producing fissures filled by molten mineral-bearing rock.
Great Orme Tramway
The base of the Great Orme is traditionally circumnavigated on Marine Drive, a five-mile anticlockwise circuit from just near Llandudno’s pier. The best way to get to the copper mines and the grasslands on top of the Orme is by the San Francisco-style Great Orme Tramway, which creaks up from the bottom of Old Road, much as it has done since 1902.
Great Orme Ancient Mines
A Bronze Age settlement developed around what are now the Great Orme Copper Mines, accessed via the tramway. Hard hats and miners’ lamps are provided for the self-guided tour through just a small portion of the tunnels, enough to give you a feel for the cramped working conditions and the dangers of falling rock.