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Things to do in Prestatyn, North Wales

Prestatyn beach © Michael Oconnell
Prestatyn beach © Michael Oconnell

The seaside resort of Prestatyn is on the north east coast of Wales, between Rhyl and Holywell.

Archaeological evidence shows that the area has been occupied since prehistoric times. Simple tools were found in the Craig Fawr caves, nearby at Meliden. The Romans later had a fort on the road from Chester to Caernarfon and remains of a Roman bathhouse were uncovered.

The name Prestatyn probably began as "preosta", meaning "priest", and "tun" meaning "farm" or "town". By 1086 the settlement was listed as Prestetone in the Domesday Book, which actually only covered land in England, but at that time Prestatyn was in England not Wales.

Near Prestatyn railway station there is an earth mound which was where a motte and bailey castle was built in 1157. It belonged to Robert de Banastre, a Norman, but Owain Gwynedd destroyed the castle ten years later and the Banastres moved away to Bretherton in Lancashire.

At either end of the High Street are two manor houses, called "faenols". They were named Pendre, which means "top of town" and Penisadre which means "lower end of town".

Prestatyn remained a small fishing village until the arrival of the railway in the 19th century. Victorian holidaymakers flocked to the coast and "Sunny Prestatyn" flourished with its beach, promenade and entertainment.

Holiday camps were built which were used during World War II as billets for soldiers. Prestatyn was also a popular place for evacuees to be sent to escape the city bombing. Pontin's still has a popular Holiday Camp at Prestatyn Sands Centre on the seafront.

In 1965 the first Kwik Save supermarket opened in Prestatyn. The chain was eventually taken over by Somerfield in 2007.

Present Day Prestatyn

In 2001, Prestatyn had a population of over 18,000 residents. Although primarily it was a tourist resort, it is now diversifying. Many large stores and supermarkets are making it a shopping mecca and it has a new Scala Cinema and a local theatre.

The town has a railway station on the North Wales Coast railway line with trains running from Holyhead to Chester.

The seafront is being revamped with bowling, quad bikes and other fun attractions. Five miles offshore the North Hoyle Wind Farm can be seen. It was the first offshore wind farm to be built in the UK and now has 30 turbines powering around 40,000 homes.

Famous Prestatyn residents include Beatles manager Neil Aspinall, Lord John Prescott, TV host Carol Vorderman and goalkeeper Danny Coyne.

Things to do in Prestatyn

Prestatyn is at the north end of the Offa's Dyke Footpath which traces the route of the Welsh-English border for 177 miles. It is also on the long distance North Wales Path making it popular with hikers in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The long sandy beach and dunes are popular with families who enjoy traditional beach activities and safe bathing. For golfers, there is the Prestatyn Golf Club with its championship course and the St Melyd Golf Club.

Gop Hill has a Neolithic mound which is the second largest after Silbury hill. It may once have been a hill fort and in the 17th century was used as a site for a beacon. The limestone outcrop also has Gop Caves which are local attractions.

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