For my last medieval adventure in Wales we walked one of the finest and most complete sets of town walls in Europe. Conwy’s 1.2 km of town walls are a medieval defensive structure around the town of Conwy in North Wales. The walls were constructed between 1283 and 1287 after the foundation of Conwy by Edward I, and were designed to form an integrated system of defence alongside Conwy Castle.
For mid autumn and beginning November we were quite lucky that it turned out to be a mild and sunny day, perfect conditions for such a scenic hike.
The combination of castle and town wall make Conwy one of Europe’s finest surviving medieval towns, period. Although most of Edward’s great castles in north Wales were accompanied by a defensive town wall, protection for his newly-planted English colonies, only at Conwy and Denbigh is it possible to still get a sense of what these fortifications were actually like.
We ascended onto the walls at the east side of the walls next to Conwy Castle and walked clockwise around. This ended up being uphill as the walls sloped upwards but offered such beautiful views.
We were forced to leave the walls behind for a short period whilst walking around Conwy’s train station rejoined the walls towards the west and the highest point of Conwy’s walls.
The walls are mostly built from the same local sand- and limestone used at the castle, but with additional rhyolite stone used along the upper parts of the eastern walls. The town walls include 21 towers and three gatehouses that are beautifully preserved.
The ascent to the highest point of the walls is quite steep but offers spectacular views across the whole town towards ConwyCastle.
After slowly making our way up this steep slope we reached the first of the 21 surviving towers that are”gap-backed”, lacking walls on the inside. These towers originally included removable wooden bridges to allow sections of the walls to be sealed off from attackers.
While standing at the top of one of these 15m high towers I had a quick look around and then with wobbly knees, while clinging to the guardrail made my way back to the wall surface.
The good news was that on this route it was pretty much downhill from this point onwards so I could appreciate the scenery more..
The tops of the walls feature an unusual design that uses a sequence of corbels to provide a flat, relatively wide wall-walk. But definitely not wide enough to my liking as I was clinging to the side of the walkway and trying not to look down.
As we descend towards Conwy’s quayside we found some of the best preserved sections of the walls.
On this last section of the wall I had plenty of opportunities to look across Conwy’s chimney covered rooftops along the way.
The walls of Conwy are not only completely intact, but largely unencumbered by later building, and still give the impression of enclosing and protecting the town.
The final section of the wall took us down towards Conwy Quay. There were some great views to be had at this point of Conwy Estuary towards Deganwy and Llandudno and also in the opposite direction towards Conwy Castle.
We were definitely not in the mood to walk back around the walls the opposite way, which would have been mostly uphill, so we walked along the quayside and back through the town.