Friday 29 May 2015

Llŷn Peninsular

Thursday 21 May 2015
This was to be our first weekend on a slightly longer trip, as I booked the Friday off to tag onto the bank holiday weekend.  It was also the postponed birthday weekend that Cathy should have enjoyed last year, but we had no can and she was still in bits after her Mum died.  So we're going to make the most of it.

I picked up Nido on the way home from work and, after loading him up and strapping my bike to the rack, we headed off.  Our first stop was the Little Roodee car park in Chester, just £1.50 for the night. One motorhome was already parked up and another joined later - safety in numbers. Without any messing we walked up to our favourite tapas bar - Porta - on Northgate Street.  We were the first in but it soon started to fill up. We enjoyed calamares, gambas pil-pil, tomato bread, jamon croquetas, chicken wings and padron peppers, all washed down with some wine.  Cathy also had a Portugese custard tart with a glass of rich desert sherry.  Well fed and watered we walked back to the van in the warm evening.

Saturday 22 May 2015
After breakfast we put some new graphics on El Nido and had a chat with one of the guy in one of the motorhomes next door.  We needed a few items in town, so walked up as the shops opened.  Firstly Lakeland for a storage box, then Cathy needed a belt as she'd left hers at home.  Then it was on to Build a Bear to buy some cool gear for Tiglet!  He now has a cowboy hat with aviator sunglasses (ready for the Malvern Show!), a bright 'Bermuda' shirt and sun hat and a very smart sequin bow-tie for those more formal evenings!  I'm sure everyone thinks we're mad but it's only a bit of fun and we needed a mascot for the van.  He has his own hashtag - #tigletontour - via @N1DOA on Twitter.

We headed off down the A55 under cloudy skies and, after stopping at the Welsh Food Centre at Bodnant for some goodies, arrived at our first campsite at about 1300.  Tŷn y Coed campsite has about 40 pitches but is very well kept, with immaculate facilities.  We had a quick chat with one of the owners then pitched up in one of the fields - just us but 2 tents arrived later in the evening.

We had lunch sat outside, by which time the skies were clearing then grabbed our walking gear and went off to find the Wales Coastal Path.  Wales have now completed the path on every stretch of the coastline and it's well maintained and sign-posted.  We had a walk in one direction, then doubled back to drop down to the beach just below the NT car park at Porthdinllaen. This was the first time since my op that I'd been to a proper beach and for the first time for years I could smell the sea - it was wonderful!  We followed the beach around and finally reached the Tŷ Coch Inn, right on the beach with great views over the bay. We sat outside with a beer, relaxing with a great view over the bay, watching people come and go.

It started to rain on the walk back so on our return to the van Cathy had some hot chocolate and me coffee, then I prepared a chicken curry with naan, which we both enjoyed; the sea air had clearly given us an appetite. I think the chilled, free champagne from Ocado helped! Cathy went off to wash up and I tidied away and we had a cup of tea before heading off to bed.


Saturday 23 May 2015
Happy Birthday Cathy! xxx
We woke to clear blue skies, although some high cloud soon started to move in.  I made the tea while Cathy opened her cards and presents. Breakfast was some artisan bread toasted and eaten outside.  I tried one of the coffee sachets - good value.  With everything secured, we drove over to empty fluids and top up fresh water then drove off for the short hop to our next overnight stop.

We stopped at Porth Iago last July and loved the scenery and isolation.  Perched on top of a sandy, cliff, the stop,is basically a field with no facilities.  But the views are stunning and, if nobody else is there, you have a beautiful, white sandy cove all to yourself.  This time it took us a while to find it, but after a few false starts we pulled into the farm yard with the weird brothers staring at us.  I paid £3 to park for the day and we drove into the field.  There were a few cars and a couple of VW campers already parked up.  Cathy prepped the flask, fruit and cake (I'd ordered some birthday sponge in two flavours) and we walked East along the coastal path.  It was warm and sunny as we walked along the cliff top, enjoying the view and sound of the blue water.  The path took us to Porthor Beach, or Whistling Sands as it's better known.  This is caused by the sand particles rubbing together and making a squeaking sound. We had a quick paddle in the clear but very cold water, then sat and had our fruit, tea and cake.  After a sunbathe we walked along the beach to the little café and back again before walking back along the path.

Back at the van we had a quick change before shuffling down the sandy cliff path to our favourite beach at Porth Iago, just above where the van was parked.  There were quite a few families on the beach with dogs also enjoying playing. It was lovely and warm so we crashed on picnic blanket.  I had a wander down to the water and walked around.  We both had a snooze and a brew and enjoyed feeling the sun on us.  At about 1600 we came back up to the van and I prepared dinner - marinated chicken, Greek salad and pitta bread.  We set up outside but it was windy and took a long time to cook the meat - by the time it was ready we were frozen! But we toughed it out, almost finishing our dinner before coming in to the van.  Cathy was enjoying her birthday champagne and after eating we put everything away, washed up and sat in the cab (with the gas heating on 21'C!) watching the sun sink. A couple of VW vans were next to us - two men with 3 boys and 3 dogs and a big BBQ!  After dinner I took some doggie treats out for them to share.  As it darkened we had a hot drink before turning in for the night. It's been a lovely day; sunny, quite warm (out of the wind) and very relaxing.  I think Cathy enjoyed her birthday and no doubt we'll sleep well again tonight.

Cool Tiglet!

Approaching Porthor beach (whistling sands)

Myrtle's Mug shot at Whistling Sands beach

Sunny but the wind was chilly

Late afternoon at Porth Iago

Sunday 24 May 2015
It rained in the night and we woke to a grey, though warm morning.  I cooked breakfast on the Cadac - bacon, eggs and bread and we ate in the van, with the side door open and a panoramic view of the cove and sea.  With everything washed up and secured, we left Porth Iago and drove the short distance to the National Trust car park at Porthor. We left the car park and walked along the coastal path heading west.  It gradually started to warm up and the cloud lifted and, by the time we returned to the van and flashed the kettle up for a brew, it was warm and sunny.  

Our next stop was a CL at Pant Gwyn, back up the coast.  This was easily found and I parked up to find the owner and our pitch.  This site comprises four separate camping fields, none of which meet the description of a CL - five pitches.  So although it was a good site with great sea views, we did feel a little seen off, as we were looking for a bit of seclusion and this site was very busy.  But it was still quiet and laid back, with good facilities and the obligatory welcoming working collie dog.  Once pitched up I prepped my bike and went off for a ride, while Cathy stayed behind to read and chill out.  I followed the B road heading NE and on the way found a small shop, so bought some fresh crab, red wine and some savoury snacks.  I carried on to Porthdinllaen, spending some time by the beach before reversing my route.

Back at the van, once everything was put away, we walked through a field of sheep and joined the coastal path, heading south.  There were some lovely rocky beaches, but we continued on to join a popular sandy beach.  The water was cold but we soon got used to it as we walked along the surf line.  After a sit in the sun, we returned along the path, stopping off at one of the rocky beaches for a sunbathe, before returning to the van.  The sun was still warm and strong, so we sat outside with a brew. Cathy had a shower while I topped up fresh water then we prepped dinner before I had my shower.  We were both glowing from the sun, but felt a little chilly despite sitting facing the setting sun. Dinner was cooked on the Cadac - new potatoes fried with chorizo, spring onions, garlic and green pepper, plus a leaf, tomato and cucumber salad.  Some pre-dinner Pringles accompanied the red wine.  As it was starting to get chilly, I went to wash up while Cathy put everything away.  We sat in the van to watch the sunset and finish our wine, before a hot drink and turning in for the night. As I type it's 2216 and there's still a thin band of red and purple light above the sea - lovely. Tomorrow we head back home after a really enjoyable and relaxing weekend.

Breakfast with a view - Porth Iago


Monday 25 May 2015
We woke to grey skies and drizzle.  After breakfast, tidying up and securing, we drove off to the National Trust house and garden at Plas Newydd, right on the Anglesey shore of the Menai Straits and with a view of the Britannia Road bridge.  We didn't bother with the house but had a walk around the gardens.   Driving back east we stopped off at Colwyn Bay for fish and chips overlooking the sea before getting hope early evening to unpack, clean and return Nido to storage.

So another good break in the van with lovely scenery and some decent weather.   

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