Scenic route to the Great Orme summit

Great Orme

Striking views of Anglesey and the Irish Sea

Perched on top of Llandudno’s Great Orme is a Summit Complex that offers striking views of Anglesey, the Irish Sea and areas of the Snowdonia National Park.

The complex, at 679ft up, was first erected in 1909 as a golf clubhouse but underwent many incarnations before becoming one of the area’s most popular tourist destinations.

Today the complex consists of a playground, mini-golf and visitor centre, cafe, gift shop and a boxing-themed bar based on the famous Randolph Turpin.

But aside from the wonderful views it offers, part of the attraction of the Great Orme Summit Complex is getting there.

It can be done by foot or car, but the other two options to get to the summit – by cable car or tram – are by far the most spectacular and make it one of North Wales’ top attractions.

The tramway transports you back to a bygone Victorian age, while the cable car is the longest of its type in the UK. Both offer fantastic views of the surrounding area.

The cable car from the Happy Valley to the Great Orme summit was built in 1969 and fully overhauled in 2006 and is the longest aerial cabin lift in the United Kingdom at over one mile each way.

The four-seater cars are carried on an endless cable more than two miles long and weighing over 17 tons. The cable is supported at intervals by steel pylons, with the greatest distance between two pylons being about 325 yards.

The lower cable car station is on the lower slopes above Happy Valley and the entrance is reached by paths around either side of the building.

Be aware though, the operation of the cable car is very sensitive to the weather and high winds in the area will probably prevent it running. So it pays to check in advance.

The tramway is Britain's only remaining cable-operated street tramway and one of only three surviving in the world.

Operation of the tramway differs from the famous and unique San Francisco system in that it is a street funicular, where the cars are permanently fixed to the cable and are stopped and started by stopping and starting the cable.

The line was incorporated by the Great Orme Tramways Act of 1898 with authorised share capital of £25,000 and construction began in 1901.

It starts at the Victoria Station in Church Walks and has two sections, with passengers changing cars at the Halfway Station.

The lower section climbs the very steep Old Road and then via Black Gate and Ty Gwyn Road to the Halfway Station and has a maximum grade of 1:4.

The line climbs 400 feet in about half-a-mile. It was opened for passengers on 31 July 1902.

The upper section, opened in 1903, is less steep and climbs 150 feet in about the same distance.

One of the quirks of the Summit Complex is the boxing-themed bar, which remains a tribute to former world middleweight champion Turpin, who owned the complex from 1952-61.

Turpin, who famously beat Sugar Ray Robinson in 1951 to become world champion, was forced to sell the complex in 1961 because of debt and only five years later took his own life, aged just 37.

Find out more about the Great Orme Summit Complex