Set on a wooded peninsula on the north Wales coast, many people still link Portmeirion to the iconic 1960s ITV series “The Prisoner”. It is one of the major tourist attractions in the area and a feast for the eyes. As well as the village itself there are miles of footpaths through the woodland, past lakes and follies. It is quite easy to spend a full day here.
Portmeirion was designed by the quirky architect Sir Clough Williams Ellis who lived at Plas Brondanw a few miles away. He was an advocate for the establishment Snowdonia National Park. At Portmeirion, he wanted to show how an area like this could be developed without spoiling its natural beauty. He did this over 50 years by creating an eye striking Italianate style village, using pieces from demolished buildings. The only pre-existing building was the Castell Deudraeth, a Victorian castellated mansion, which has been restored as an upmarket hotel serving meals to non residents.
The excitement begins entering through the gatehouse with views across the Dwyryd estuary to the mountains of Mid Wales. It then just gets better and better.
It is an exciting place to visit and a photographers delight with its brightly painted buildings in shades of bright yellow, vivid pinks and vibrant ochres. There is even a grotto with a golden Buddha.
Buildings and vegetation are carefully laid out to present vistas which change as you walk around the village.
This is a mild climate and palm trees flourish. Carefully tended flower beds were planted up with brightly coloured bulbs, helebores and spring flowering heathers in late March.
The village is built round a central piazza with a small pond surrounded by palm trees. At one end is the Glorietta and at the other the Gothic pavilion.
Off it is a small street with shops and the Town Hall which was one of the first buildings to be built. outside it is a verdigris statue of hercules, which William Ellis bought in Edinburgh and towed on a trailer to Portmeirion.
On the edge of the sea with views across the Dwyryd estuary, is the white painted Portmeirion Hotel picked out in the very characteristic Clough Ellis turquoise. many famous names have stopped here. Next to it is a stone pirate ship, the Amis Reunis which is a popular play area for the children.
Beyond it a footpath leads past the watchtower and along the coast to the lighthouse. There are views of sandy beaches across the estuary to Mid Wales or to the tip of the Llyn Peninsula
This part of Wales is wet and the peninsula is wooded with what is described as temperate rain forest. The natural vegetation is oak, birch and rowan with alder and willow in wet areas. The Victorians planted large specimen trees, including Douglas firs, redwoods and tree ferns as well as azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. Miles of footpaths explore the woodland.
Clough Williams Ellis was responsible for constructing two lakes and the Chinese pagoda and bridge.
These are reached by quite a steep climb from the village and there is a land train which takes visitors on a circuit of the lakes. There are cafes in the village as well as shops. This really does make an excellent day out. Entry isn’t cheap at £11 or £10 for concessions (£1 reduction if bought on line). Visitors having lunch at Castell Deudraeth get a free pass to the village. To enjoy Portmeirion when the visitors have gone, you can either stay in the hotel or one of the many houses which provide self catering accommodation.
There are lots more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/gardens/wales/portmeirion/index.html