Day 1 – 28th Dec 2015
We set off later than planned at about 9.15 and had a long but pretty reasonable (A34, M40, M42, M6, M54 and then windy local roads) drive. Reasonable until the last minute, as we arrived in Beddgelert, that is, when we were faced with a choice -I tentatively suggested that the road to right looked a more likely choice but Paul decided to take the left turn, over a narrow bridge. We continued on his selected path until we arrived at the Royal Goat Hotel on the outskirts and we decided to stop and ask. You’ll have guessed the answer by now. We had to turn round and take the road back over the narrow bridge and then take my suggested route. Apparently I hadn’t made it clear enough that I wanted him to take that route.
A three point turn in a 4.8 metre long car with a 7.5 metre caravan on the back is no mean feat, but we managed it by unhitching, turning the car to face the required direction and then manually moving the caravan and re-hitching up. We arrived at the site – Beddgelert Forest – with a little time to spare as dusk fell. Access to the site is quite tricky, but Paul managed most adroitly and we were soon on our rather sloping hard-standing pitch. We fiddled about a bit until Paul was happy that the van was level. He must have misread the level in the failing light, though, as once on board it soon became evident that we were pretty far from level.
By now, though, the rain had set in quite hard and we agreed to live with it for one night. Lots of jokes about going up to bed! How we laughed. Well – I did! I realise that I may appear to be making out that Paul is an idiot. He’s not. I’d wholly and unreservedly trust him with my life. But he is fallible, bless him.
We were soon cosy and full (left over ham, egg and chips – one of our favourite post Christmas repasts). I am not a fan of oven chips and would rather avoid them, but there are occasions, such as this, when only chips will do. I highly recommend McCains “Gorgeous” chips. They are the closest thing to proper chips I have ever found and very much safer than a deep fat fryer (even if I actually possessed one) in a caravan!
There was quite emphatically no phone or TV signal so we watched one of the DVDs I had brought with us and then went to bed. It was a noisy night, with a fair bit of rain hammering on the roof. I quite like being cosy and hearing the rain, though. It’s kind of a smug feeling.
Day 2 – Tues 29th Dec
We had a slow start, taking the opportunity to hike the caravan up so it was (more or less) level. Then it was off to Caernarvon for a look round and some much needed phone and 3G signals. We had people to see and plans to make! We filled up with petrol after the long journey at the new Morrisons. The location beside the Menai Straits must be one of the most picturesque for any supermarket ever (unless you know better?) in the UK, as the aerial photo shows.
We stopped and bought some Welsh cheese at a deli – notably some Teifi with laverbread (seaweed), which is made in Ceredigion and has a lovely taste and texture. From there, we made our way to Llanberis, at the foot of Snowdon. Sadly, both the Snowdon Mountain Railway and the Llanberis Lake Railway were closed for the season. Clearly we need to come back in the summer – although I doubt parking would be so easy! We parked in the car park for the National Slate Mine and there were numerous spaces.
We then made our way to the Llyn Padarn Country Park and took Archie for a chilly, breezy walk, before making the drive through the Llanberis Pass, which is as spectacular a drive as you could wish for in Wales. Finally it was home for the night, with plans to meet some old chums (who have moved up here recently) tomorrow evening and a rendezvous with my stepmum – Nanny Lyne, who lives in not too distant Oswestry,
Day 3 Weds 30th Dec
Wow! That was a noisy old night, thanks to “Storm Freddy”. I think we were sheltered by the forest but the noise through the trees was tremendous! I haven’t said much about the site, which is very much to our taste, being quite wild (but with hook-up!). The River (or Afon) Colwyn runs through the site, tumbling over the rocks in a very wild fashion – especially after all the recent rain. It is also bisected by the Welsh Highland Railway, which makes its way from Bettws y Coed to Caernarvon, calling at the campsite on the way. This train WAS running and we heard it several times from our pitch. Archie is not a fan of a little steam train. I remember a journey from Devil’s Bridge to Aberystwyth which we humans absolutely loved, but Archie and his brother Fred trembled and shook throughout the entire journey, poor boys.
We had a lazy day planned for today. After all the rushing about to hospital before Christmas with my Mum and then the panic of getting her into a Care Home and then Christmas itself, life had been a bit crazy. We spent the day reading and snoozing until it was time to get ready to go out for dinner with friends. Andrew and Claire had moved up from Whitely to St Asaph for work reasons and we had not seen them for some time. We had agreed to meet for dinner at the Kinmel Arms, near Abergele. This was about an hour’s drive for us and we took the coast road (the A55), agreeing to pretty much bash along there this time, but to repeat the journey in a more leisurely manner on the day after next.
The Kinmel Arms was very nice indeed and my review appears here. Very stylishly decorated with a Fish theme. They had a nice range of gins and a couple slipped down very nicely as we waited for our friends. The menu was full of tasty things and there was nothing on the menu that I wouldn’t have eaten. The food was delicious as anticipated and we had a really lovely evening. We arrived back at the campsite around midnight, still full and ready for sleep.
Day 4 – Thurs 31st December
We had the heaviest rain yet overnight. It was very noisy indeed and my rash (which I have had for a couple of days) was also very itchy, so it was not the most refreshing of nights. The plan today was to meet my stepmother – known universally as Nanny Lynne – at Bala Lake. She lives in Oswestry, so it’s about half way for both of us.
It was a nice drive, although it was pretty rainy all the way. We met Lynne and she transferred to our car and we drove to The dog-friendly Bryntyrion Inn nearby. It had a very welcoming fire, a typical pub menu and free wifi. We had a very tasty lunch and caught up on all the gossip before making our way back to Bala and a circumnavigation of the lake , which really is beautiful, although perhaps not so much today! It has its own lakeside railway, but you’ll have guessed it was closed.
As it was still raining, and she had encountered a lot of water on the drive to Bala, Lynne decided to beat a hasty retreat and I don’t blame her! We took a rather more circuitous route, passing through Blaenau Ffestiniog (BF) , on the way. BF was once known as the slate capital of the world but has reinvented itself as an activity centre, with ziplines, underground trampolines and ziplines, mountain biking and so on – not to mention the famous Ffestiniog railway.
On the way home, we caught a couple of glimpses of Snowdon, which now has a layer of snow on it. This has happened since we arrived here.
We were soon home and settled for the night which, being New Year’s Eve, we hoped would be fairly firework free (for poor Archie, who hates them). And a quiet evening it was until midnight, when all hell was let loose! Poor Archie.
Day 5 – Friday 1st January
Happy New Year! Or perhaps Blwyddyn Newydd Dda as we are in Welsh Wales! So today was our planned coastal trip. We drove to Conwy so that we could see the Castle in the daylight, having seen it all lit up on the evening of Day 3. We went via Trefriw and the Fairy Falls. We arrived in Conwy around lunchtime and the castle is equally impressive in daylight. They knew what they were doing when they built this place! Our photos just do not do it justice.
We walked around town for a while but many of the interesting shops were closed as it was New Years Day. We did, however, find a little gem of a dog-friendly Bookshop Cafe and my review appears here. I spotted a very pretty bit of yarn bombing – even the baubles on the tree are knitted. Very nice. As the cafe had no toilet, they had a an agreement with a nearby hotel. This had a very futuristic tap/hand-dryer from the Dyson stable, the like of which I have never seen before! See the photo! Posh!
After Conwy it was a whistle stop tour of the famous North West seaside towns, notably Llandudno. We could not visit without a trip up to the top of the Great Orme. Needless to say, the impressive tramway was not running! And the Marine Drive was also closed. We really do have to come back in the season!
On the way up there is a bronze age copper mine and there is also a cable car but, yes, you’ve guessed. Closed. At the top there is a visitor centre with cafe and bar. This was once owned by our old friend, boxer, Randolph Turpin aka “The Leamington Licker”, of whom we have written before.
On a good day, the views can be spectacular. This was decidedly not a good day but we had fun feeding some seagulls and Archie and Paul had another breezy, wet walk.
We popped into Penmaenmawr for a quick walk on the beach and then made our way home via Caernarfon for petrol. On the way back, just as the light was starting to fade, we noticed a puff of steam! It was the elusive Wales Highland Railway train – at last! We quickly dove to the station nearby (Tan y Bwlch) and dashed out of the car to catch a glimpse. It was flipping freezing! But such a delight to actually see it at last.
We returned to base and spent the early evening doing as much packing as was practical in preparation for the long journey home tomorrow, before falling in to our cosy bed for the last time on this trip. Here are a few views of the site:
As we were leaving, we spotted a tent. Rather too chilly for my liking but good on him or her. The 278 mile journey home took around 6 hours again, with stops. We arrived home in the daylight, with enough time to unpack an pop and see Mum, who is now ensconced in a care Home, poor love.