Despite being the son of an independent shopkeeper, I have to admit that there are times when a large out of town shopping estate is welcome.
But as well as being an oasis of large warehouse shops in the surrounding dessert of mid-Wales,
Aberystywth has many other things to attract the visitor such as the castle, the cliff railway and not least the Vale of Rheidol Railway.
There are plenty of independent shops as well, along with all the bars and restaurants you'd expect in a lively university town.
If you believe some of the guide books Aberystywth Castle is completely ruined and there is little to see. Admittedly compared to the likes of, say, Conwy, Caernarfon, Harlech or Beaumaris it is in a poor state, but removed from that context I was surprised to find how much still remains.
The feeling that it is overlooked is not helped by the almost total lack of on-site interpretation, apart from a brief history and a few metal plaques naming the more obvious features.
The first castle on this site was built by Llywelyn the Great. It changed hands several times until it was finally rebuilt by Edward I in the 1280s
as a fine, diamond-shaped concentric fortress with towers or gatehouses at each corner of the diamond.
Whilst the location on a headland was impressive and easily defendable, the closeness of the pounding sea was its downfall. It was reported that in 1343 that the long chamber, the king's hall, the kitchen range, the main gateway, the drawbridges and the outer bailey were already falling down.
As with so many castles, it was slighted by Oliver Cromwell after the Civil War and much of the stone was recycled by the local townsfolk.
External Links and References
More photos and a history from the Castles of Wales site. http://www.castlewales.com/aberystw.html
Whilst easily overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, the Vale of Rheidol, the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway (Rheilffordd y Graig) is not to be missed.
Opened in 1896 it was longest funicular electric cliff railway in Britain until 2001, when the Cairngorm Mountain Railway opened.
It was designed by George Croydon Marks who was also responsible for a number of other funicular railways.
The recently refurbished Summit Station at the top of Constitution Hill, gives access to what was once the Victorian equivalent of a theme park. This includes one of the world's largest camera obscuras.