January's a risky month to book a weekend away in the UK as you never know exactly how cold it's going to be or if it will ever stop raining. Layers and an umbrella are pretty much a necessity. However, we really lucked out on a weekend in Caernarfon a couple of weeks ago as the sun shone for more than the current rate of 37 seconds a day. Result! We were there to celebrate my mum's birthday and it was nice to amble around the quiet town without freezing to death or getting soaking wet - although I did spot a local walking along the pavement with a real snake wrapped round his neck and arm which almost froze my blood in fear. Why would you do that? Why?!
We arrived on the Friday afternoon and headed to the harbour for dinner just as the sun went down. The view? Not too shabby, right?
We stayed in one of the Landmark Trust properties - Bath Tower - and it was amazing. I can definitely recommend it. It's one of the town wall towers but almost feels like a mini castle or turret. The views from the top terrace are incredible.
I took a few photos of the interior before the boys spread a million pieces of Lego across the floor and tried all of the beds (there's a double at the top of the tower and a dormitory which sleeps three mid way down - there are four floors in total). Peak season, it costs between £700 - £900 to stay for three nights but I'd suggest braving the colder months where the same stay will cost you half the price.
Caernarfon is a small town. The marina is lovely for a walk but it's the castle, a medieval fortress, which is the real highlight. It's an amazing place to explore, although, if you have young children, it will be with your heart in your mouth that you take them up some of the steeper steps, especially if you have boys like mine who tackle everything at pace. Settle your nerves by taking them to the castle museum and letting them try on the costumes for half an hour while your heart rate gets back to normal.
Not a bad way to kick off our #UKexplore adventures in 2017!
For those of you who are new to my blog or the hashtag, #UKexplore is an Instagram community for sharing your favourite places in the UK and your outdoor adventures. It could be the most marvellous of meadows, the perfect place for a picnic, the loveliest lake for skimming stones, or rambling routes for running along. Wherever and whenever you're out exploring, simply take a snap and upload it to Instagram so we can all share in your adventures and explore the UK with you.
Every month, both Karen (from Mini Travellers and Fuelled by Latte) will feature our favourite images on our blogs and we'll also select one winner each to receive a National Trust Family Day Pass. Nice, right? #UKexplore will run from the 1st to the last day of the month and anyone can join in and be in with a chance to win.
There are so many fantastic photos shared every month that Karen and I have weekly conversations about how hard it is to choose our favourites. And every day, a potential new winner pops up in our feeds. These are the nine that I kept coming back to, though. I think it was the gorgeous winter light that won me over this month. What do you think?
But my favourite photo in January was this one of Shaws Bridge in Belfast take by @littlewoodmr. I think the reflection is beautiful and I love the light hitting the stone on the right hand side. Congratulations, Andrew, you win a National Trust Family Day Pass!
We're really looking forward to seeing all of your photos in February and a huge thanks to the National Trust for sponsoring #UKexplore with much appreciated day passes to their fantastic properties.
Now, why not head over to Mini Travellers to see who Karen has chosen as her January winner.
Terms & Conditions
1. Please only submit (on Instagram) your own photos.
2. Add the #UKexplore hashtag.
3. The challenge runs from 00.00 on the first of the month to 23.59 on the last day of the month.
4. Only photographs uploaded during those times are eligible for that month's competition.
5. Winners will be announced on Mini Travellers and The Ordinary Lovely on the second day of the following month and will be notified on Instagram.
6. Winners have 28 days to provide their address in order to receive their National Trust Family Admission Day Pass (exclusions apply and can be made available upon request). The pass can be used by up to 1 adult and 3 children, or up to 2 adults and 2 children for one day only. There is no cash alternative.
7. Including the #UKexplore hashtag indicates approval for the images to be posted on Mini Travellers and The Ordinary Lovely, and the corresponding social media channels.
8. The judges' decision is final.