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Things to do in Rhos-on-Sea, North Wales

Sea front © Neil Yates
Sea front © Neil Yates

Rhos-on-Sea is a small town and seaside resort on the north coast of Wales. Although quite separate, it is almost a suburb of Colwyn Bay. Generally the town is known simply as Rhos, although in Welsh its full title is Llandrillo-yn-Rhos. It was named after the kingdom of Rhos, established in Gwynedd in late Roman times.

Overlooking the pretty coastal town is the hill known as Bryn Euryn which still has evidence of an ancient hill fort called Dinerth which means "Fort of the Bear".

A plaque on one of the seafront properties called Odstones records Rhos-on-Sea's main claim to fame. In 1170 a Welsh Prince, Madoc ap Owain Gwynedd, sailed from Rhos and discovered America, more than 300 years before Columbus raised his sails in 1492.

When the Cistercian Aberconwy Abbey was established nearby, the monks built a fishing weir on the seashore at Rhos. It did an excellent job of trapping fish.

In 1850, on one night, records show it caught 35,000 herring and 10 tons of mackerel. Such weirs were banned by Parliament in 1861 unless they predated the Magna Carta, and this weir at Rhos certainly did. It belonged to the Parry Evans family in the 19th century, as part of the Rhos Fynach estate. The historic family house remains on the promenade near St Trillo's Church and is now a pub and restaurant. The weir finally fell into disuse in World War I and has now disappeared.

Present Day Rhos-on-Sea

Rhos-on-Sea developed with the advent of tourism and the arrival of the railway in the 19th century. By the 20th century it became a popular place for retirement. Even Emily Bishop from the ITV soap Coronation Street was scripted to retire to Rhos-on-Sea!

Today it has a long promenade overlooking the sandy beach and harbour. Further back are streets of local shops, a fish and chip shop, a butcher's shop and some antique shops for browsing. The two main pubs are the Cayley and the Rhos Fynach, mentioned earlier.

The Pier Toll Room is all that remains of the pier and it houses a small local museum.

Things to do in Rhos-on-Sea

One of the oldest attractions in Rhos-on-Sea is the primitive stonebuilt 6th century St Trillo's Church which is on the site of an even earlier church and a holy well. The more modern Llandrillo-yn-Rhos Parish Church, still ancient by most standards, dates back to the 15th century and is one of the most important churches in North Wales. Both churches are worth a visit.

Visitors to the parish church can admire the early 18th century sundial and the stone lych-gate which was built in 1677. A wander around the old tombstones will reveal the grave of Harold Lowe, an officer of the doomed RMS Titanic. He was regarded as a brave hero after helping many others to safety.

Things to do in Rhos-on-Sea should include sampling a local ice cream at Fortes or Nino's on the seafront, taking a boat trip or a sea fishing trip from the jetty or walking around the Point to see the mussel beds at low tide. Still stuck in the mud is the wreck of the paddle-steamer, Rhosneigr, which was grounded in 1908.

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