Largely mountainous, North Wales boasts some of the best scenery in the region. Prices are steepest in the north-east, within a half-hour’s drive from Chester.

North Wales has a very different feel and identity from South Wales; even the Welsh spoken there is different.

Apart from the valleys of the rivers Clwyd and Dee, the area is largely mountainous. It has always been popular with visitors from Merseyside, Manchester and Chester, and some commuters have set up home in the more accessible parts of Flintshire and Denbighshire.

There are a number of resorts along the north coast, including Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno; to the west, on the Gwynedd coast, are Barmouth and Aberdovey.

Until 1996, there were only two counties in North Wales: Gwynedd and Clwyd. Now there are six unitary authorities, including the Isle of Anglesey, Conwy, Wrexham and the mainland part of Gwynedd. The former counties of Flintshire and Denbighshire, on the English border, have also been reinstated.

Gwynedd is sparsely populated and contains some of the best scenery in Wales, including the Snowdonia National Park.

Caernarfon, on the coast, has a magnificent castle built by Edward I; his legacy also includes Harlech and Conwy castles. Bodnant, to the south of Conwy, is one of Britain’s best gardens.

Farther south is the Ffestiniog railway and the whimsical town of Portmeirion, designed by Clough Williams-Ellis. Coastal scenery on the Lleyn Peninsula is superb; sailing and golf are popular sports here.

Prices rise significantly to the north-east of Wales, and are highest within a half-hour’s drive from Chester. Farther away, they tail off, but rise again towards the coasts and Snowdonia, depending on exact location.

Major towns

Wrexham, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Dolgellau, Bangor, Caernarfon, Holyhead.

Transport links

Train: Euston to Chester 2hr 25min; Euston to Bangor 3hr 37min.

Car: Bangor is 243 miles from central London, via the M1, M6, M56 and A55; Dolgellau is 210 miles, via the M1, M6, M54 and A458.

Public schools

Rydal Penrhos, Colwyn Bay (01492 530155). Co-educational, age range 2-18, day and boarding. www.rydal-penrhos.com

St David’s College, Llandudno (01492 875974). Co-educational, age range 11-18, day and boarding. www.stdavidscollege.co.uk

Howell’s School, Denbigh (01745 813631). Girls only, age range 3-18, day and boarding. www.howells.org

Ruthin School (01824 702543). Co-educational, age range 3-18, day and boarding. www.ruthinschool.co.uk

St Gerard’s School (01248 351656). Co-educational, age range 3-18, day.

Leisure

Golfcourses: Penmaenmawr (01492 623330); Llandudno (01492 875325); Aberdovey (01654 767210); Abersoch (01758 712622); Pwllheli (01758 701644); Royal St David’s, Harlech (01766 780203); Prestatyn (01745 854320).

Hunts: United (Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s); the Flint and Denbigh.

Yachting clubs: the Royal Anglesey, Rhyl and Royal Welsh Yacht Clubs.

Fishing: rivers Conwy, Dee, Dovey and Glaslyn.