Golden opportunity to practice Welsh in Wales!

Wow! I have managed to arrange a week in North Wales in September, with the express purpose of coming to practice my Welsh in the wild. I will be staying in an apartment near the Fairy Glen just outside Betws-y-Coed, and I will be travelling exclusively by public transport. With the help of someone I once met on this Forum, I am expecting to be put in touch with some local Welsh speakers.
But in addition, I would be most grateful to receive suggestions on where to go. I know from experience that Welsh is heard in Betws-y-Coed and in neighbouring Llanrwst, but where else in the general Conwy Valley area? Blaenau Ffestiniog? Would a trip on the Rheilffordd Ffestiniog/Welsh Highland Railway get me to Welsh-speaking areas? I believe that Caernarfon is a good destination.
Any suggestions for where and how will be welcome.
Maybe I could even arrange to meet with someone?!
Diolch in advance (how do I say that?).


You’ll definitely hear Welsh in Blaenau Ffestiniog and Caernarfon (be prepared for different accents but don’t let them put you off!) . The Rheilffordd Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway will also get you to Porthmadog where you’ll hear Welsh.
Llanberis and Bethesda are also good for hearing Welsh.
Are there any particular activities/interests (other than practising speaking Welsh!) that you’d like to do/see/experience? That would help with pointing you in the right direstion, so to speak.

If you do find yourself in Caernarfon, I have an open offer to any SSiWer to meet up for a ‘panad a sgwrs’ if our timetables synchronise!

… and Diolch in advance is Diolch o flaen llaw / Diolch ymlaen llaw (both are correct!)


Diolch o flaen llaw - beware, I may accept the offer!


Diolch for telling me that my immediate thought was OK!!!

Let us know if you do… :slight_smile:

As you may have guessed from my posting, I’m a rail enthusiast! I like walking, and one important Welsh word that I picked up VERY easily from SSiW is Tafarn.

Thanks again for the offer!

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You already know about the WHR and the Ffestiniog Railway, and there’s also the Padarn Railway and of course the Snowdon Railway both in Llanberis and the Conwy Valley Railway (and its museum in Betws Y Coed). As for tafarn - well, there are plenty of those too! :wink:


[quote=“siaronjames, post:2, topic:8563”]
If you do find yourself in Caernarfon, I have an open offer to any SSiWer to meet up for a ‘panad a sgwrs’ if our timetables synchronise![/quote]
Darn! Wish I had been aware of that last month (or, I guess, very early this month). Next time, maybe!

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Oh wow! That’s great. I went to the fairy glen years ago. It’s a very pretty area. Porthmadog, Pwllheli and Caernarfon are good. People in the tourist offices are also happy to speak Welsh to learners if they have time (I certainly was and so was my colleague). Blaenau is very Welsh speaking as well. A good tip - if you want a good chance of meeting Welsh speakers, go to the uglier or plainer villages. You need to go to the places where the house prices are cheaper and don’t have big victorian houses that are converted to B &Bs by English people. I’m not saying that it’s guaranteed they’ll all be warm and friendly…some of customer service in shops isn’t exactly ‘American style’ shall we say…but you will get more speakers like that.

I’m not sure I would subscribe to all these recommendations, @Caren especially your point about “uglier or plainer villages”. I would also hope and expect that tourist office employees would always have time to speak Welsh to learners or anyone unless, of course, they couldn’t speak Welsh…

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What I mean is, they might not necessarily have the time to have longer chats if the place is busy with other tourists (even though we loved having conversations)! :blush:

There will be speakers in places like Beddgelert, Betws, Llandudno, Abersoch and the places I mentioned, but in my experience, and in the experience of other Welsh speakers I know, there are generally less of them. I would say Caernarfon is the exception in that.

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Cadw, the people who look after the castles, often employ Welsh speakers. The Slate Museum in Llanberis is worth a visit. Beddgelert is beautiful, I spoke quite a bit of Welsh there.


I’ve been to the Slate Museum - it was very, very interesting.

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Thanks to all for the suggestions above!

Rail travel in North Wales…you may be unpleasantly surprised, Baruch, to find that Arriva Trains Wales apparently operates a monolingual railway! (And that mono- language is certainly not Welsh!). I couldn’t believe that there are virtually no announcements or electronic board displays in Welsh, and the staff I came across were certainly monolingual.

One day I got chatting to the young lady on the ticket barrier at Colwyn Bay station and I asked her if she spoke Welsh, and she said no. I then asked her, "is it not a requirement or this job, where you come into direct contact with the public? Again, no. Amazing. And I remember the guard on the Blaenau Ffestiniog train who asked me where I was going, and when I said “Betws-y-Coed” he didn’t understand me (I’m absolutely sure I pronounced it right). Perhaps he’s used to hearing it pronounced “Betty’s cold” or something like that!

I don’t know how Arriva Trains Wales gets away with it. I reckon a reasonable knowledge of the Welsh language for front-line staff should be a franchise condition!


Actually, that matches my experiences. In the North, some companies have a reputation of being unusually English dominated (I say unusual given the typical demographic of the area). Arriva in my experience is one of these, including buses. I found it strange growing up that the Caelloi bus drivers from Pwllheli-Porthmadog were almost exclusively Welsh, which kind of made sense considering the local population, but when the Arrive bus came round, it was always an English speaking driver, no matter who they used. I remarked upon this to my parents and they already knew - apparently it was a known thing that Arriva buses in the area mainly employed English only speaking drivers.

Slightly seperate to that, it reminds me of an incident a while ago, which I could have complained about formally but didn’t. I went into the Bangor railway office, and said hello and asked him if he had any info on a connection or something in Welsh. It was the information office place on the platform after all! I was bright and cheery about it because even though I like to speak Welsh when I can, I’m not going to be rude about it either when I don’t get that. If I’m going to an area that might not have as many Welsh speakers like Bangor, I also don’t blurt things out too quickly.

I was so, so nice, but this man was not impressed! I was actually shocked at his response. He stood there right in front of me, staring into my eyes, not saying a word. He looked at me with contempt. As you can imagine, it was actually very awkward to just keep standing there in silence with this staff member staring at me like the hated me and I was so taken aback, I didn’t respond like I usually would at behaviour like this.

In the end he did speak, but only after a marked pause to make sure I knew that he wasn’t happy that I had just tried to speak Welsh to him. It makes me sad that there are people like that living in North Wales who hate the language and speakers around them so much.


Yes, this is unfortunately familiar stuff.

We’ve found on this forum (which is all about helping learners from all backgrounds making a real effort to connect with or integrate in Wales) that it works best to focus on the positives, and leave discussion of the negatives to other places… :slight_smile:


When was this @gavinM? Because I thought the Railways counted as Public Sector, since they are successors to BR and serve the public. The Welsh Language Act, 1993 states that the public sector in Wales must provide its services in both languages. We (well, not me personally) painted a lot of road signs and marched a lot of times to get S4C and the official status of Welsh!! It is worth folk in Wales checking on this with their AM or MP or the Welsh Language Board! I am in Scotland, or I’d be on line now on the subject!

Although I fully understand (and probably empathise with) the indignation of those who have received hostility when speaking their native tongue in their native land, is it possible to restrict this thread to my original request for suggestions on how to make the most of my trip to Wales?

Thanks, and with total respect to all posters on this thread.


How long are you here and how far are you willing to travel?

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