100 Places to See Before you Die

Welsh Books Council

100 Places to See Before you Die - 25 November 2009

Bijou but beautiful - Wales may be small but that just makes it all the easier to get to know and love. All within easy reach; accessible and inspiring, enchanting and evocative. And if you need more encouragement to get out and about, the inimitable John Davies, one of Wales most admired historians, invites you to wander with him to his definitive list of Wales’ 100 most memorable, historic places in his latest book  Cymru: Y 100 lle i’w gweld cyn marw  (Wales: the 100 places to see before you die).

Known for his talent for bringing history to life, for recounting tales of old, of stories past and present, Davies links up with renowned photographer Marian Delyth to encapture Wales in word and picture. Let your senses travel the four corners of the country, starting on Mynydd Parys on Anglesey and wandering across and down, and round and over, to Pennant Melangell and Pont Cysyllte Aqueduct, Strata Florida and Whitland and Abergavenny, to name but a few, before finishing your journey at Chepstow and the Second Severn Crossing.

The list contains firm favorites, Harlech, Beaumaris, Portmeirion, Conwy, The Mumbles and Tenby. But it also gives deserved attention to Wales’s industrial heritage, with stop-offs at Blaenau Ffestiniog, Dowlais, Neath, Rhondda Heritage Park, Blaenafon, Brynmawr and Tredegar. There are more remote locations, a visit to Old Beaupré Castle near Cowbridge, Llanddewi Nant Hodni in Gwent and Barclodiad y Gawres and Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey. But there are surprises too, no boat trip to magical Enlli or a beach walk to remote Ynys Llanddwyn and Snowdon mentioned only in passing.

John Davies explains, "The places discussed are all evidence of the fruit of the labours of human beings. Places like Llanddwyn and Enlli could well be included in a volume concerned with the hundred places in Wales famed for their natural beauty; indeed such a volume would be a suitable companion to this one."

Do-able over the course of a lifetime by people who love exploring and who appreciate a sense of place, but for Marian Delyth it was a journey of epic proportions. For she, along with her trusty camera, was tasked with representing Davies’ wanderings in photo. It took her months to complete the project but the results are stunning. Her colour photographs capture the spirit of Wales – early morning light in the Tanat Valley and then the sun setting over the sea at Aberystwyth; snow on the slopes of Yr Eifl in March and heather on Foel Drygarn in September.

Delyth comments, "This comission was quite a marathon. Photographing a hundred places takes a fair amount of commitment, patience and perseverance. That said, by the end of the journey, my co-author John Davies had led me, in his own inimitable way, to a few gems – places that I’d known very little about, let alone had visited. Places that I’m certain I’ll go back to as I didn’t have enough time to linger this time around. I learnt a lot too, especially about our post-industrial regions, where I often had to look hard for that perfect shot to showcase the remains of our heritage."

Lefi Gruffudd, general manager, for publishing house Y Lolfa added,  "Cymru: Y 100 lle i’w gweld cyn marw  (Wales: the 100 places to see before you die) is a must have for the Christmas stocking list, perfect for anyone and everyone who loves Wales and getting out and about. A signed hard back copy is extra special. So, why not take up John Davies’ challenge and do Wales in your lifetime!"

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