The night in the tiny room of Barmouth’s Sunray Guest House is OK, its tiny but clean with a great view over Afon Mawddach, the bay the town is on. The view first thing this morning is a cloudy grey sky with a howling wind blowing from the sea, boats bobbing furiously in the harbour and nobody on the streets, its quiet.
Breakfast is next door in a little cafe built of stone called Davy Jones Locker, there are locals in there who look like fishermen not going to sea today, beanies on heads, a three day growth, thick woolen jumpers and a familiar patter when they talk. The breakfast is cheap, good and the coffee is strong, I have a Flat White which is rare to see on a menu in Wales. It has a “vibe”, I like it.
As we’re leaving Davy Jones Locker it starts to rain, serious pissing down rain, blowing sideways with a wind behind it that probably came from Alaska. I’m in the drivers seat today, Port Meirion near Portmadog is the first stop of the day.
Port Meirion is not a proper Welsh village, it is noted as a place to see but its not my cup of tea. I’ll tell you why. Its a contrived Italian village built between 1925 and 1975 and while some people live here (according to all the signs saying “Private = No Access”). Now there were two things initially that pissed me off about this place 1. Entrance cost 13 quid and all there was were fake Italian type buildings and even a fake boat on the water and shops to sell you expensive trinkets and coffee and 2. It was absolutely pouring rain. Maybe I got out of bed on the wrong side, there wasn’t much room to get out of bed by the way, but its not a place I’d reccomend visiting, Wales is such a beautiful place with wild valley’s, pretty rolling farming country, gorgeous bays and coastal vistas, I don’t think it needs a fake garrish Italian village that you pay stupid money to visit. Enough said Pauolo, not get back the things you liked.
Its still raining so we drive Porthmadog, it doesn’t grab us immediately so its on to Caenarfon which has a castle and that sounds interesting. The rain abates for the moment as we drive into Caenarfon Castle carpark, just below the town square. The castle looks big and really interesting, its also known as Carvarvon Castle. It was a wooden castle built in the 11th century and then in 1283 Edward I (my 18th Great Grandfather) began replacing it with the stone that its currently still built with. The Welsh and English lost and won battles over the castle and finally things settled down between the Welsh and the poms and the castles in Wales start to fall into disrepair. The last time it was used in war was the English Civil War when the Royalists held the fort. Charles was invested as the Prince of Wales here in 1969. There is a museum which has a lot of focus on the Welsh Fusiliers, still a serving unit in the British military. There is a lot of work going on here and its really worth visiting. The town looks quite nice and there is a huge town square behind the castle paved with slate and surrounded by lovely buildings. Dry scones and tea at one of my family castles for lunch, frankly, I expected better given my family connection!
Accomodation has been secured at Plas Penaeldroch Manor a B&B just outside the village Betws-y-Coed (pronnounced Bets ee Coid), its in the lovely Conwyn Valley in the Snowdonia National Park. The village has a bridge called Waterloo Bridge, I read somewhere that this was the inspiration for the Abba song “Waterloo” but I suspect the song is tied to the Battle of Waterloo but I’ll investigate further. So, now its early afternoon and the rain has mostly stopped to we head towards our accomodation into the stunning vista of Snowdonia National Park, huge green mountains, waterfalls, rushing streams, its breathtaking.
Our first attempt to find our accomodation ends with us up a skinny dirt road with a bloke waving his arms at us for blocking his gateway, we get no advice from him regarding where we are, he has the cranky look you need for the Pembrokeshire wave but not the slightly slanted finger, I suspect he may well have raised a middle finger at us if he’s thought of it. A phone call to our hosts from the Navigator sorts it out, its near the Pont-y-Pant train station on the Afon Lledr (a fast running river with rapids). We have an apartment, 2 bedrooms and a living room in an old manor that had fallen into disrepair then the current owners did it up, its quiet and lovely, a good choice for two nights stay.
We unpack, have a cup of tea with our hosts who are flying the Ukranian flag and hosting a Ukranian family, and rest for a short time. A walk down to river for some photo’s and I see 2 serious looking young guys drive in with serious looking kayaks, crash hats, floatation vests, and then they get in the river and charge down the seriously fast, steep and rocky rapids.
Dinner tonigh is in Betws-y-Coed at the Royal Oak Hotel, its a nice drive in, the village is lovely and the food and the drinks are good. We drive home in the rain and retire to our warm haven in the B&B, the river roaring outside. A good day.
Ciao, arrividerci for today – Pauolo