What do you do when you’re a sleepy Welsh town looking to increase your tourism numbers? Simple! Just add a few more words to your town’s name so you can become the town with the longest name in Europe.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (don’t ask me to pronounce it!) translates to The Church of Mary in the Hollow of the White Hazel near the Fierce Whirlpool and the Church of Tysilio by the Red Cave. While the original aim of the 1860s re-christening was to have the train station with the longest name in Britain, “Llanfair PG” also manages to be the third longest place name in the world.
The marketing ploy is still bringing tourists to the town today – busloads of visitors pose for photos in front of the train station and the visitor’s information centre, where you can buy souvenirs, send postcards with the Llanfair PG postmark, or get a stamp to commemorate your visit!
You might not get to see a church, a whirlpool, a hazel tree, or a red cave on your visit to the Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch train station, but as you stand in front of buildings with 58 character names on them, just think of how a simple idea and some community determination has turned Llanfair PG into an unlikely tourist destination (or make your own attempt to claim the longest place name crown by brainstorming a new name for your town!).
While driving through Snowdonia National Park, we stopped for a morning tea of coffee and Welsh cakes in the town of Betws-y-Coed. Although it feels small, it is one of the main towns in Snowdonia. Walking down the main road in order to stretch our legs, we passed many of the pretty stone and slate houses that make Betws-y-Coed a picture-perfect town.
We dropped in to the local bakery Cwmni Cacen Gri (The Welshcake Company) for coffee and one of their renowned traditional Welsh cakes, before heading on to Tŷ Hyll – the Ugly House.
The Ugly House is situated just outside of Betws-y-Coed. Home to the Pot Mêl Tearooms, it is a cosy cottage with a mysterious origin.
Legend has it that if you managed to build a house on common land between sunset and sunrise that consisted of four walls, a roof and a smoking chimney, then you could claim ownership of the land it stood on.
The Ugly House is rumoured to be one of these houses, though how such a quaint cottage could have been christened ‘Ugly’ is debatable – rumours abound as to whether it was named after the ‘ugly’ type of people, such as thieves and outlaws, who may have lived there, a mispronounciation of the Llugwy River which flows nearby, or simply after the rough-hewn boulders that form the walls. One thing is for certain – by the look of those huge stones it’s hard to imagine how many people it took to construct the place within a night!