Situated on the southern side of the Llyn Peninsula and looking out over Cardigan Bay is a small fortification that may have some of the greatest views for a North Welsh castle; Criccieth Castle may be a little smaller than its counterparts but it is no less important to the history of the area. This wonderful castle commands a spectacular spot atop its headland between Criccieths two golden beaches and is a sight to behold, whether stood on the last slither of grass beyond the edge of the keep's walls or standing on the beaches below. Let's plan your next day out, see a bit of history, enjoy an uninterrupted view out to sea and explore the remains of Criccieth's ancient castle.
Criccieth castle sits right in the heart of the town of the same name, making this a great potential option as a quick stop for someone travelling the A497 and wanting to see something interesting. Criccieth is a great option whether you have been exploring out on the peninsula, perhaps coming from Pwllheli or Abersoch up the coast, heading down the coast from towns like Porthmadog or coming south via the A487 from Caernarfon - each route absolutely offers the opportunity to drop in and take a break from your road trip. The castle itself is down some narrowish side streets but there are plenty of options to park both from the main road or close to the castle, including parking like Marine Crescent Car Park right in the shadow of the castle to spots like Y Maes and Criccieth Esplanade a little ways away. Being situated in a town means public transportation is a viable option, with Criccieth train station a short walk away and several options for bus routes that pass through the town - check to figure out which option suits you best.
Before we venture into the castle itself, let us have a brief look at its history. Criccieth started life as a simple motte and bailey prior to the stone structure we know today. Construction began at some time during the 1230s and development would see multiple phases and redesigns; the inner ward of the castle would be the first structure completed, under instruction from Llywelyn the Great. The outer ward would be added at some time during the late 1200s by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd - a new gateway was added in the outer curtain with a rectangular tower. By 1283, the castle would be captured by English forces and under the control of James of Saint George further developments would take place including another rectangular tower and the "Engine Tower", which may have been the foundation for a siege engine. Criccieth would come under siege during Madoc Ap Llewelyn's uprising of 1294 but would survive the winter to be resupplied in the spring and hold against the siege. The next most notable event in the history of the castle is the 1404 rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr where the castle would be captured and essentially slighted, with walls torn down and set alight.
Criccieth may be a modest castle relative to some of its more sprawling neighbours but it is no less interesting to explore its grounds, especially thanks to those amazing views out to sea. Take the time to walk the outer walls along the sea edge and enjoy everything there is to see! Sections of the castle are reasonably still intact and offer plenty to see, with the gatehouse and sections of the towers still easy to see; Criccieth Castle may require you to use your imagination more than most but that doesn't mean there is nothing here. Views around the town and beyond are also well worth investigating, with our main image above taken from Black Rock Sands (Traeth Morfa Bychan) looking towards Criccieth and it is a simply brilliant view of the town and castle. But once again, I have to come back to the amazing ocean views - standing out as far you can on the headlands with ocean and sky filling your view is a bit of an unparalleled experience and one I recommend you check out.
And with that, you have seen Criccieth Castle - a great little spot to explore and one of the many wonderful castles in this area. If you wish to continue on your historical journey then you can either head north to enjoy the wonders of Caernarfon Castle, Conwy Castle or even onto Anglesey to see Beaumaris Castle, alternatively, head south to see the spectacular Harlech Castle. If you are in the mood for a more natural excursion, you could always head to Porthdinllaen to check out the beautiful views and inquisitive seals or travel a little way inland to enjoy things like the beautiful waterfall at Ceunant Llennyrch or soak in some views by climbing Dinas Emrys. No matter what your day may hold, you are in a great part of North Wales for a grand adventure and hopefully, this marvellous castle has started you off on the right foot.