The main reference to the 7 wonders of Wales relates to an anonymously written rhyme from days gone by. Within it are 7 locations across the northern part of the country that showcase Wales’ beautiful and rugged landscapes, its rich culture and exceptional heritage.
“Pistyll Rhaeadr and Wrexham steeple
Snowdon's mountain without its people
Overton yew trees, St Winefride's well
Llangollen bridge and Gresford bells.”
Here, you can explore the spectacular locations from the rhyme and discover the stories behind them.
1. Pistyll Rhaeadr Waterfall, Berwyn Mountains
First up from the rhyme, is Pistyll Rhaeadr Waterfall, near Llanrhaedr-ym-Mochnant. At 74 metres, Pistyll Rhaeadr is the highest waterfall in both England and Wales and is fed by water from the Berwyn Mountains. If you wish, you can take a footpath to the top of the waterfall where you’ll find a lake called Llyn Lluncaws.
2. St Giles' Church, Wrexham
St Giles' Church, Wrexham, makes it on to the list due to its imposing tower – mistaken for a steeple in the rhyme – which is visible from all around the town. The Grade 1 listed medieval Parish Church, at 180-feet long, is the largest of its type in Wales, and there is even a half-size replica of the tower at Yale University, which includes a stone from St Giles' tower. Just in front is the tomb of Elihu Yale – the benefactor of Yale University, USA, which now carries his name.
3. Snowdon Mountain, Snowdon
The highest mountain in England and Wales stands 1,085 metres high. It can be climbed by a variety of routes, but a popular one is via the main path from Llanberis, as climbers can visit the tea rooms just outside Llanberis, halfway up, and at the summit. For other routes, you can park up and get the Sherpa buses to drop you off at Pen-y-Pass and take the Miners' or the Pyg track, offering exceptional views of the beautiful landscape. The easy way up is on the Snowdon Mountain Railway from Llanberis. Once at the summit, you can enjoy a drink or meal at the Hafod Eryri visitor centre, protected from the weather, before making your descent.
4. The Yew Trees, Overton-on-Dee
Overton-on-Dee's yew trees are believed to date back between 1,500 and 2,000 years. However, there is one that was planted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1992, to mark the 700th anniversary of a Royal Charter being granted to Overton by Edward I in 1292.
5. St Winefride's Well, Holywell
At Holywell, the wonder is a holy well. The revered Christian shrine has attracted pilgrims for more than 1,000 years, and legend has it that waters have healing powers. An exhibition explains the history of the site and even displays crutches reportedly left by some of the cured pilgrims from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
6. Llangollen Bridge, Denbighshire
Llangollen Bridge was the first stone bridge to span the River Dee. Built in the 16th century to replace an earlier bridge built under the direction of John Trevor I, Bishop of St Asaph, it has been upgraded many times, the last time in the 1960s, but each time in keeping with the original design.
7. Gresford Bells, Gresford
Gresford All Saints Church's wonder is not the church but the bells, which are rung regularly for church services. A device means that all 8 of the chimes can be rung by just 1 person. The Grade I listed 15th century church has a number of original stained glass windows and is surrounded by a grove of Yew trees, some of which date back more than 1,000 years.
How to visit the 7 wonders of Wales
The easiest way to visit the 7 wonders of Wales is by car, especially Pistyll Rhaeadr Waterfall. You can take a bus to within a short walk of another 5, but to get to the summit of Mount Snowdon will require a ticket for the mountain railway or a long hike.