St Asaph has a population of about 3,000 and has always thought of itself as a city but the rest of Britain didn’t catch on until the Queen awarded it civic honours during her Diamond Jubilee. It’s been an important place since the middle of the sixth century when a Scottish priest, Saint Kentigern, founded a monastery here. Thanks to its location on the main invasion route into North Wales, it’s remained at the centre of things – not always escaping unscathed. From the picturesque but tiny cathedral, once burned by Owain Glyndwr, you can follow a trail downhill along the High Street and past the medieval church to follow the wooded banks of the River Elwy.
The cathedral may be about the smallest in Britain but you can see its battlemented tower and that unique patchwork of yellowish limestone and purple sandstone from miles around. It’s at heart of the city, literally and metaphorically. And at the heart of Welsh culture too – home of the very first Welsh Bible and host of an international music festival. Lying on the North Wales Pilgrim’s Way between Holywell and Bardsey Island, it even provides a gateway to the “inspirational landscapes” surrounding the city. A digital hub inside the cathedral will tell you more.
Denbighshire, LL188 1HZ