Local man Robin Proctor (above) has shared his tips for the best things to do in Wrexham
Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds has firmly put Wrexham on the map.
The Deadpool actor, 46, took over Wrexham AFC with his friend, sitcom star Rob McElhenney, in 2021.
The team’s fortunes have been transformed under the celebrity duo’s leadership, with the Red Dragons getting promoted to League Two in April, ending their 15-year exile from the Football League.
And it’s game on for Wrexham’s tourism industry too, with the allure of the A-listers leading to a surge in holidaymakers in the city. There’s been a 44 per cent rise in the number of visitors arriving by rail since April, according to Trainline, and Airbnb has recorded a boom in Wrexham getaways over the past couple of years. Jim Jones, chief executive of North Wales Tourism, said that Reynolds and McElhenney have given the region a ‘£1billion boost’ since acquiring Wrexham AFC.
In light of Wrexham’s newfound fame, local Robin Proctor – who has lived there for 25 years and rents out his home on the house swap site HomeExchange – has shared his tips for the best things to do in Wrexham and the surrounding Wrexham County Borough, from restaurants to dine at to historic sites to visit…
TOP SPOTS FOR FOOD AND DRINK
Ryan Reynolds (right) appears to have put Wrexham on the map for tourism after purchasing Wrexham AFC with sitcom star Rob McElhenney (left)
Wrexham (above) has seen a 44 per cent rise in the number of visitors arriving by rail since April, when Wrexham AFC was promoted to League Two, ending their 15-year exile from the Football League
Robin says The Fat Boar bar and restaurant, which lies on Yorke Street, is the ‘perfect’ city centre spot, whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat, a drink in a beer garden or a romantic meal for two.
Dishes include servings of steak and fish and chips, while drinks range from ‘real ales’ to a ‘huge list of gins’ , the bar’s website reveals.
If you’re up for a short drive, Robin – who runs a property development business – recommends heading to The Boat at Erbistock, a riverside pub that’s set along the river Dee in the nearby village of Erbistock.
The 17th-century pub is worth the trip, he says, praising the ‘great’ food and location.
Robin says The Fat Boar bar and restaurant, above, is the ‘perfect’ city centre spot, whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat, a drink in a beer garden or a romantic meal for two
Robin recommends heading to The Boat at Erbistock (the two images above), which is set along the river Dee in the nearby village of Erbistock
One of the desserts served at The Boat at Erbistock, where menus revolve around local produce
‘We aim to use as much fresh local produce as possible,’ the pub’s website notes. It adds that beer drinkers are in luck, as the venue is ‘blessed with a number of extremely good breweries within just a few miles’.
Another historic restaurant recommended by Robin is The Corn Mill, a 14th-century watermill and pub that overlooks the rapids of the river Dee in the ‘beautiful’ nearby town of Llangollen.
There, you might dine on wild boar pie for main course followed by marmalade and white chocolate cheesecake for dessert.
TOP THINGS TO DO
Watch a Wrexham match at the Racecourse Ground (pictured) during your visit
Saint Giles parish church, built in 1506, is said to be ‘one of the seven wonders of Wales’
Watching Wrexham AFC – the Red Dragons – play a match at The Racecourse Ground, the city’s football stadium, is the most obvious form of entertainment when visiting Wrexham, Robin says.
The stadium is the world’s oldest international football ground still in use – Guinness World Records reveals that ‘the first international match was played at the Racecourse on March 5, 1877, when Scotland visited Wales’.
Also in Wrexham is ‘one of the seven wonders of Wales’ – Saint Giles parish church, which was built in 1506.
Robin notes that thrill-seekers can go mountain biking in Llandegla Forest, which lies near the city, with adventure company OnePlanetAdventure.
The Wrexham local also recommends a trip to Erddig Hall, an 18th-century manor surrounded by 1,200 acres (486 hectares) of parkland south of the city.
He notes that it might appeal to Downton Abbey fans, as it has been described as ‘the most evocative Upstairs Downstairs house in Britain’ due to the insight it offers into the lives of both the staff and well-heeled residents that formerly inhabited the property.
Robin says that Erddig Hall has been described as ‘the most evocative Upstairs Downstairs house in Britain’. Above is the property’s kitchen
One place to visit, Robin advises, is the ‘beautiful’ 19th-century Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (above), Wrexham County’s World Heritage Site
Eryri National Park, pictured, is just an hour’s drive from the centre of Wrexham
Robin suggests that you hop on a train at Wrexham General Station and ride along the coast. One enticing destination is the Victorian seaside town of Llandudno (above)
Another place to visit, Robin advises, is the ‘beautiful’ 19th-century Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Wrexham County’s World Heritage Site. He says that you can walk or cycle along it, or even choose to glide along the top in a canal boat.
Eryri National Park, formerly known as Snowdonia, is just an hour’s drive from the city centre. Although it’s not in Wrexham County, Robin says it’s a great day trip if you are staying in or around Wrexham. He suggests climbing the national park’s mountains or visiting its breathtaking beaches.
Don’t have a car? Robin suggests that you hop on a train at Wrexham General Station and travel along the Cardiff to Holyhead line, stopping off along the way at Chirk Castle or the neighbouring walled city of Chester.
He says that the train also runs along the North Wales coast, with stops that include the historical town of Conwy, seaside resort Colwyn Bay and, via a change of train, the Victorian seaside town of Llandudno.
WHERE TO STAY
Visitors to Wrexham can stay in Robin’s riverside home, a converted watermill with five bedrooms, if they’re members of the house swap site HomeExchange
The Hand at Llanarmon (above two images) is an ‘ancient hostelry’ that lies around a 40-minute drive away from the city
WELSH PHRASES FOR WREXHAM VISITORS
Bore da – Good morning
Prynhawn da – Good afternoon
Helo – Hello
Sut dach chi? – How are you?
Diolch – Thanks
Nos da – Good night
Os gwelwch yn dda ga I goffi? – Please may I have a coffee?
Pa ffordd yw’r maes pêl-droed? – Which way is the football ground
Wrexham has several attractive properties available for visitors to rent via HomeExchange, Robin highlights.
The website, which operates in the UK as well as France, Croatia and the U.S, allows travellers to swap homes with fellow members of the site.
Robin, who has five exchanges planned this year via the house swap site, says: ‘For just £180 a year membership, you can stay in Wrexham for every single football game of the season if you please.’
If you stay in Robin’s riverside home, a converted watermill with five bedrooms, you’ll be based just a 10-minute drive from the Wrexham AFC football ground.
There are plenty of Airbnb options to choose from too. Airbnb has seen a significant upturn in visitors to Wrexham since Reynolds and McElhenney purchased the football club, with nights stayed in the Welsh town ‘hitting an ‘all-time high’ in 2022, the booking platform told MailOnline Travel.
Amanda Cupples, general manager of the UK and Northern Europe at Airbnb, said: ‘The rise of the Red Dragons is drawing guests to Wrexham and putting money in the pockets of local families who host on Airbnb.
‘As the cost of living continues to rise, this will help more locals boost their income and help make ends meet.’
Just outside of the city, you’ll find Grosvenor Pulford Hotel & Spa, a four-star hotel with ‘beautifully modern bedrooms’ and ‘opulent’ spa and leisure facilities.
Another option is The Hand at Llanarmon, an ‘ancient hostelry’ that lies around a 40-minute drive away from the city. The Mail checked in and found that it ‘offers a rare mix – fine cuisine amid authentic muddy countryside’.