Picture of Cadwalader's Ice Cream Cafe
Cadwalader's Ice Cream Cafe

A VISIT to Cadwalader's famous ice cream parlour in the shadow of Criccieth Castle has long been a Sunday afternoon treat to savour, often supplemented with fish and chips from across the road eaten out of the wrapping paper.

This once-cramped little parlour bursting with colour and aromas, where tantalisingly tempting flavoured ice creams stun the senses as you prevaricate over them, was opened by David and Hannah Cadwalader back in 1927.

It has since become a mainstay of Criccieth's tourist attractions, but has stretched its wings to encompass its own chain of ice cream cafes and coffee shops, dotted around Wales and over the border.

However it's this place that remains the true mecca for Cadwalader's devotees, with many still insisting vanilla remains the crème de la crème of its ice creams.

It was the only flavour offered by the founders' son Dafydd when he took it over after World War II - selling ice cream and wet fish. He used to tease his still closely guarded recipe contained 6lbs of "shan't tell you" and "a great deal of love and care".

Times, however, move on. Not only has the range of flavours expanded into territory Dafydd Cadwalader would never have dreamed of, including apricot & brandy, St Clementine, dragon's breath and chocolate porridge, but the shop itself has undergone a major facelift and expansion.

Having opened in its new guise in April, it also offers an Italian-style café experience, selling coffee, teas, cold drinks, cakes and baguettes in addition to its ice cream offering.

The rear of the building has been opened up to accommodate the café, and the huge panoramic windows looking out over Cardigan Bay offer one of the best views of any eatery in Wales. The only downside is the vista causes some over-crowding as everybody tries to bag a window seat.

Meanwhile the castle just a couple of hundred yards up the hill, dominated by its twin-towered gatehouse and standing defiantly on a rocky outcrop teetering above the waves, is itself well worth a visit.

Often forgotten as its better known brethren such as the castles in Caernarfon, Conwy, Harlech and Beaumaris grab the attention, it's a little gem. Unlike the others, it was originally built by the Welsh monarchy, started by Llywelyn the Great, but later taken over by the Normans following the partial conquest of Wales.

It owes its present condition to a siege in 1404 when it was sacked and burnt by rebel prince Owain Glyndr's forces. Even today you can still see scorch marks on the stonework.
A wonderfully descriptive exhibition area and audio-visual theatre in a complex by its entrance leads one through the history of the Welsh monarchy, as well as looking at Gerald of Wales' scintillating narrative of his travels through the country in the 12th century.

The views from the castle walls stretch out across the bay to Abersoch, Harlech, Barmouth and beyond, and over the town itself in the other direction in a bracing urban panorama.

Cadwalader's Ice Cream Café, Castle Street, Criccieth
01766 523665

Criccieth Castle
01766 522227

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