Llandudno began to develop as a holiday resort in the mid C19th. The massive limestone bulk of the Great Orme towers above the town. The four mile Marine Drive was constructed round the base of the Great Orme between 1872-9 by wealthy land owners, the Mostyn family, following what was originally a footpath. The road is still a privately owned “toll road”:https://www.conwy.gov.uk/en/Resident/Parking-Roads-and-Travel/Marine-Drive-Toll-Road.aspx with splendid stone gateways at either end.
The road is narrow and the first three and a half miles are one way traffic only, with vehicles only travelling anticlockwise along it. There is access to the summit complex from the toll road, although there is also free access from the town along Old Road or Ty Gwyn road. (The toll ticket includes free parking at the summit).
Access is past the pier on the North Shore and it is a wonderful drive cut out of the hillside above the sea, with spectacular views to Anglesey and Snowdonia.
“St Tudno’s Church”:http://www.greatorme.org.uk/sainttudno.html the original church which gave its name to the town, is high on the hillside above the Marine Drive and reached up a steep side road which also gives access to the Copper Mines and Summit Complex. It is surrounded by a very large graveyard. Most of the church is C15th although parts of the walls date back to the C12th. It is still used for services, particularly outdoor services in the summer months.
Continuing past the church leads to the Bronze Age Copper mines and the summit complex. The toll ticket covers parking at the summit.
“A vintage bus”:http:// https://www.visitconwy.org.uk/things-to-do/great-orme-marine-drive-tours-p277421 has three services a day around the Marine Drive, with a trip taking about an hour.
I chose the “modern sightseeing tour”:https://city-sightseeing.com/en/94/llandudno. instead. There are two routes. The longer red route includes Conwy. I chose the shorter blue route which covers part of the Marine Drive, (sit on the right hand side to be next to the sea) before heading up past St Tudno’s Church. Buses being higher than cars meeans you get better views! On the way down, it returns down the more direct Old Road, following the line of the Victorian Tramway. It is a half hourly service which drops visitors off at the Bronze Age mines complex.
I had originally planned on catching the hourly service bus to the mine complex but missed it. The sightseeing bus was more expensive, but was definitely worth it as the section along the Marine Drive was superb, even if it was a dull and drear day! The ticket also gave me reduced entry to the mines. A win win situation.