Showing posts with label Wales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wales. Show all posts

Monday 24 April 2023

First trip of the year

 Fairbourne and Bodilan Fach Farm - 16 - 19 April 2023

We'd been itching to get away in the van, but the weather's been rubbish over the past few weeks. We planned on taking this trip a week ago, but wind, rain (and snow!) meant it was sensible to postpone.  But the weather forecast improved - at least the rain and strong winds had stopped - so we decided to take a chance.

After an expensive diesel fill-up, we drove one and a half hours south from Anglesey to the village of Fairbourne.  It's situated right by the beach at the southern end of the Mawddach estuary, just across rom the town of Barmouth.  Fairbourne is right down at close to sea level and is protected from the sea by a series of flood barriers. But it's been decided by the Welsh Government that maintaining them is too expensive and the village can't be saved if sea levels rise (and they will) so it's likely the place will eventually be abandoned and surrendered to the sea over the coming decades.  Given that, the occupants are finding it almost impossible to sell their houses and anyone who wants to buy here has to pay cash.  So the area is starting to look a little run-down, although reading the various noticeboards, there does appear to be a strong 'all in it together' community spirit.  The village seems to mainly be English retirees and holiday homes, handed down the generations. However, there did appear to be an active and noisy primary school, so perhaps not all is lost.....for now.

The beach is mainly large round pebbles up by the defences, with a long sandy stretch when the tide's out.  Behind the village are mountains and across the sea, to the left of Barmouth, is a view of the Llyn Peninsula.

Our first stopover was on something like a French aire.  It's actually the private car park of a closed hotel, but the owner's made use of the space and allows overnight stopovers, at a very reasonable cost of £5 for 24 hours, paid via the 'Pay by Phone' app.  He's also installed a motorhome service point, with black waste disposal and fresh water.  This is available to all but there is an honesty payment of £5, paid online via a QR code.  When we arrived, there were still a few Sunday trippers parked in their cars, but still plenty of room for us to pull in on what is a very level, tarmac parking area.  We were soon joined by a couple of other vans.  After some lunch we walked along the raised promenade heading north.  The middle section of the beach is no dogs from 1 April - 30 September, but dogs are allowed on the beach on either side of this.  The tide was out and we hobbled across the large round pebbles to walk on the wet sand.  There is a small ferry that sometimes runs at the end of this spit of land for the short crossing to Barmouth and it's the only way to get there from this point, unless you walk the 45 minutes back to the wooden train bridge which spans the estuary, or drive quite a few miles around.  At the end of the spit there's a cafe that services walkers and those using the small steam railway that runs from the station just by the aire.

The weather wasn't great - very grey and cloudy - but at least it wasn't raining or windy.  Back at the van, we chilled out before eating, then later took a walk in the other direction towards the main road and the mountains.  I had a chat with the owner of one of the vans. He and his wife had been away touring the UK for about 3 weeks and were planning on continuing until the end of May. We talked about the difficulty of finding places such as this to stay overnight, without the hassle of pre-booking a campsite and wished for many more of them. Although next to a road, the aire was very quiet and we slept well.

Good service point


Salty watching the little steam train from the aire

The next morning dawned still cloudy but at least a little brighter and warmer.  After breakfast we drove just a few hundred metres up the no-through road running alongside the beach to the car park at Fairbourne Golf Club.  They allow overnight parking for £10.  The parking area's hardcore with some muddy puddles, but we still found a dry, level spot, with lovely views towards Barmouth and the mountains.  The payment can be made in cash when the clubhouse is open, or via an honesty box at the entrance to the small golf course.  We spent our day walking the coastal path, which took us zig-zagging up the hillside to about 270m above sea level, with great views over the bay towards the Llyn peninsula and the mountains; Snowdonia would be visible on a clear day.  It was quite mild with no wind and we enjoyed the sporadic hits of sunshine.  On the way up we visited the Blue Lake, formed from the slate quarrying.  It's dark blue in colour, clear and about 15m deep.  It's no longer possible to get down to the small lake, but the views from above were lovely.  Carrying on the coastal path heading south, we made it to a group of standing stones, where we sat to have our snack and a cup of tea.  Leading down towards the coast from this point, we visited the clearly visible hut circles and the old enclosure at the high point.  Back on the path, we retraced our steps back to Fairbourne.  The ice cream parlour was open so we all enjoyed a well-earned ice cream, including Salty who loved his 'doggy' ice cream, chasing the tub around the floor with his tongue!  Back at the van, it was time for a cup of tea overlooking the views, then a bit of a snooze before eating.  We'd hoped to try one of the two takeaways in the village, but they're only open at the weekend.  There is a small bar that does food by the ice-cream parlour, but we didn't really fancy that.  So Cathy cooked up a risotto, using some sausages, onion, pepper, garlic and fresh kale from a friend's garden.  I popped in to the clubhouse to let them know I'd left money in the honesty box and thank them for allowing us to stay overnight.  They were very friendly and welcoming and explained the toilets at the back remained open all night.  The bar was warm and inviting with a good range of beers, so perhaps next time we might pop in for a nightcap.  We finished off the evening with a gentle stroll along the prom to loosen off our aching legs from the long walk.  Another quiet night.

View down towards Fairbourne and Barmouth

Blue lake

Golf club stopover

The next morning it was clear blue skies and bright sunshine, but the strong, north-easterly wind was wickedly chilly.  I took Salty out for his morning constitution and we returned to the van with cold tears in our eyes!  Our final stopover for this trip was at the CL on Bodilan Fach Farm, nestled in the Dysynni valley between mountains in the Snowdonia National Park.  It only took about 20 minutes to drive there, following the coastal road before cutting inland , following ever-smaller roads and lanes into a dead-end valley.  What a beautiful spot.  The CL is a grass area just past the farm, next to a fast flowing river.  It's pretty basic - fresh water tap and black waste dump - but that's all we needed and only £10 for the night.  There's also absolutely no phone signal here, which won't suit lots of people, but is perfect for us. I'd emailed the owners a few days before and had a very welcoming reply; I tried a couple of times at the house to say hello and pay the fee, but no doubt they were busy on the mainly sheep rearing farm.

We pitched up with our side door facing south to benefit from the strong sunshine, then made up a flask, grabbed some snacks and headed out for a walk.  We wandered up the lane before turning right and doubling back on ourselves along the footpath on the opposite side of the river.  The route followed the line of one of the many dry-stone walls that reminded us so much of Yorkshire.  Reaching a road, we stopped to read the monument at the derelict house of Mary Jones. A few minutes on, we reached St Michael's Church, which has a small exhibition dedicated to Mary Jones and her family. The story of Mary Jones and her Bible inspired the founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Mary Jones (16 December 1784 – 28 December 1864) was a Welsh girl who, at the age of fifteen, walked twenty-six miles barefoot across the countryside to buy a copy of the Welsh Bible from Thomas Charles because she did not have one. Thomas Charles then used her story in proposing to the Religious Tract Society that it set up a new organisation to supply Wales with Bibles. Together with the Welsh hymn writer Ann Griffiths (1776–1805), Mary Jones had become a national icon by the end of the nineteenth century, and was a significant figure in Welsh nonconformism.

We continued to follow the narrow lane heading south, soon arriving at the base of Castell y Bere.  The remains of the castle stand on a large rocky outcrop in the middle of an otherwise flat and featureless valley, with high mountains on either side.  Constructed by Llywelyn the Great in the 1220s, the stone castle was intended to maintain his authority over the local people and to defend the south-west part of the princedom of Gwynedd. In 1282, war with Edward I of England resulted in the death of Llywelyn's grandson, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, and Castell y Bere fell to English forces. Edward I expanded the castle further and established a small town beside it. In 1294 the Welsh leader Madog ap Llywelyn mounted a major revolt and the castle was besieged and apparently burnt. Edward did not repair it and it became ruined. It was cleared of undergrowth and the first archaeological dig completed in the 1850s.

We had a very enjoyable hour exploring the castle, finding a sunny spot out of the wind to enjoy our tea and snacks.  The last leg of our return journey continued along the lane we'd driven down earlier and back to the van, for a well-earned cup of tea sat in the sunshine, with Salty sleeping contendedly by our feet.  I made tonight's dinner - a simple salad with sausage and cheese toasties made in the Ridge Monkey. The sun had disappeared behind the mountain by 6pm, so after washing up we walked up the bridleway to see the sun on the distant mountains and he looked down the valley towards the sea.  The path continued on, traversing the hillside and promises further great walks when we return here....and we will. Tired from a couple of days of hilly walks, we read our books before falling asleep to the sound of the river rushing behind us.











The next morning was clear and sunny again, but still with that cool wind blowing.  We popped in to thank the owners and pay the fee, before heading north for home.  I needed to stop off in Llanberis to collect some climbing helmets from an outdoor shop for the search and rescue team I'm a member of.  V12 Outdoor are strong supporters of the various search and rescue teams in North Wales and provide us with a good discount on the various outdoor and rope safety equipment we need.  Their shop is well stocked and they're very knowledgeable - give them a try if you're in the town.  As we were in Llanberis, we took the opportunity to park up and have a walk around Llyn Padarn, a large lake surrounded by mountains, with Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) towering over them all.  After a quick panad back in the van, we made the short journey back home to Anglesey.

This was just a short trip, not too far from home.  But we enjoyed the change of scenery and it was good to get back in the van.  We'd forgotten how to do 'van life' after a long winter break and our 'To Do' list filled up with things we forgot to buy or need to do.  But we'll get back into the swing of it during a visit to the Lake District (and possibly Scotland) next month.  Until then...

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Short West Coast Tour of North & Mid Wales

Tuesday 7 September 2021

We'd planned a short trip away in the van during September and it tied in nicely with two stages of the Tour of Britain passing through Wales. Stage 4 was from Aberaeron to the Great Orme in Llandudno, so I took a look at the route to find somewhere easy to park up and not too busy.  The Harlech Leisure Centre allows motorhomes and campervans to park overnight in their car park for an £8 fee.  There's no facilities, but it's well situated just back from the main road, under the castle and only a short walk from the long, sandy beach.  So this set the start of our short four day trip along the West Coast of North and Mid-Wales.

It was a really hot day as we set off from home, with the forecast showing a couple of days of exceptionally hot, humid and sunny weather.  Harlech's only about 45 miles from home - so about 1.5 hours in the van.  We arrived at the Leisure Centre and parked up with a few other vans.  I popped into Reception to pay; they were very welcoming and friendly and said we only had to pay the night fee of £8 and that would see us through until after the Tour had passed through tomorrow.  We packed our beach stuff and walked about 15 minutes to the dunes and beach. It such a hot and sunny day so it was quite busy, but the beach is huge so there was plenty of space.  One side has summer dog restrictions, so we turned left from the dunes and found a spot to drop our bag and take Salty for a paddle.  We both enjoyed a sea swim and dried off before heading back to the van.  There was plenty of space in the car park, so we followed the lead of other vans and got our seats out to sit in the shade - it was 34ÂșC inside the van!  The rest of the evening was spent sat outside reading and, when I took Salty for a walk at 10.30pm, the air was still very warm.  It felt just like a warm summer's evening on an aire abroad.

It felt like we were on a French aire!




Wednesday 8 September 2021

Despite being quite close the main road, it was quiet at night and we slept well.  We took a morning walk back to the beach to avoid the heat of the day.  Cathy settled into her chair in the shade and I wandered over the rail track and road to grab a coffee from the cafe and wait for the Tour.  I knew I had about an hour's wait, but it was a good atmosphere and I got chatting to some of the locals who'd come out to watch.  The excitement mounted as the Tour and Police motorbikes started to come through, followed by a couple of the Tour safety cars.  There was a breakaway of about 5 riders who were a few minutes ahead of the rest and I took some photos as they passed through, then put my camera away so I could cheer on the Peloton as they came hurtling through.  One of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step riders through his musette (feed-bag) down at my feet as he cycled past, so I happily gained a souvenir!  The Tour of Britain isn't quite the same as the Tour de France and is missing the Caravan that passes through in advance, but it was still a great atmosphere and, with such a hot, sunny day, it did feel like being in France!

Our park-up for tonight was an area next to the sea near the village of Borth in Ceredigion, called Ynyslas Borth.  It costs £10 to stay for the night and, again, there aren't any facilities, but it's a nice quiet spot, popular with all types of motorhomes and campervans.  There was someone collecting the money and the height barrier is closed at 8pm.  The weather was starting to change and it was cloudy, but it still felt warm.  We took a walk along the pebble beach and had a pre-supper drink overlooking the sea, using the sea wall as an impromptu bar.  Again, it was a lovely quiet park-up and we fell asleep listening to the waves breaking.

Here come's the breakaway - Allez, Allez, Allez!!


A souvenir of the Tour - I'm easily pleased!

Parkup at Ynyslas Borth



Apero time at our pop-up beach bar!



Thursday 9 September 2021

We had a lazy morning with another walk before driving the short distance to Aberystwyth, just a few miles south.  Before we left home I'd emailed the town's rugby club, who run something similar to an aire in their car park. For £10, we had a safe parking spot (with the gates locked) and access to a loo emptying point and fresh water.  I had paid in advance online and they had sent me the code for the gate lock, so we were able to let ourselves in and park up.  The walk into town was through a small park and it was busy around the shops, bars and restaurants.  We took Salty with us and had a wander along the promenade (the north beach is off-limits to dogs in the summer) before heading back to the van for lunch.  Later we left Salty in the van and walked back in to wander around a bit more.  By now the rain had started and became heavy, so we darted into a pub to shelter!  We haven't been in a pub for quite a long time (a few years maybe) and so I was a bit surprised at the cost for two drinks!  On the way back we ordered some food from Mama Fay's - a small Caribbean restaurant - and took it back to the van.  The curried goat and rice and peas were delicious.  The jerk chicken was succulent and tasty but could have been spicier, but we enjoyed it.  Aberystwyth is worth a visit if you need to stop somewhere to empty the loo and top up with fresh water.  However, we felt the town was a bit tired, sadly the same as many of the UK coastal towns that have suffered in recent economic times.

The rugby club 'aire'

Aberystwyth pier


Friday 10 September 2021

Our final overnight stop was a pub parkup - the Bryn Arms in the village of Gellilydan, directly opposite the CMC Coed-y-Llwyn Club Site and just north of Llyn Trawsfynydd.  They allow motorhomes and campervans to park up in their car park if you buy a meal in the pub.  Although the pub's dog-friendly, we're not convinced Salty is pub-friendly, so we left him in the van!  We enjoyed a good meal in the pub and had a quiet night's sleep.  

Saturday 11 September 2021

The plan today was to find somewhere to stop for breakfast and lunch on the way home, which was only about an hour away.  We'd have liked to have parked up by Llyn Trawsfynydd, but all their car park have height barriers, so instead I drove us to Dinas Dinlle, a free parking area by a long pebbly beach and next to Caernarfon Airport, where the Coastguard helicopter is based.  We chilled out there for the rest of the day, before heading home. 

This was a short trip, really just to get away for a few days and enjoy the hot weather, but also to allow me a pro-cycling tour 'fix' as we weren't able to travel to France in June to watch the Tour. We've pretty much covered this area of Wales now, so our next trips will probably be a bit further afield in the UK, although planning for a longer trip to France next year is in progress..... 

Dinas Dinlle

A view across to Ynys Llanddwyn close to home



 

Tuesday 25 May 2021

A few days in Pembrokeshire

Friday 21 May 2021

Nido's parked up at the Llandigige Fawr CL in Pembrokeshire. It's a nice quiet spot, with the pitches spread out in an L-shape around a wildflower meadow.  We have electric and it's reasonably level, although we could have used the levellers to even it up a bit.

We left home yesterday in decreasingly deteriorating weather, with heavy rain and winds gusting 60mph. We've stayed at the Forge CL near Machynlleth before, in August 2017.  It was also a bit wet underfoot that time and we had to park on the tarmac track rather than a grass pitch, to avoid getting stuck.  This time we parked parallel to the track and, this morning, the water was covering the grass, but we were on the level and able to pull away safely. Forge is a lovely little campsite, deep in the countryside, surrounded by steep hills, forest and a fast flowing river alongside.  The owner feeds the red kites at 3pm every afternoon and they normally start circling an hour before, then swoop down to grab the meat scraps he gets from the local butchers. We watched it the last time we stayed here and it was an amazing sight (video below).  We were too late this time and the owner said they're nesting at the moment, so numbers are down a bit on normal.  The rain didn't give up, so the evening was spent in the van, with Salty and I venturing out (I'm so glad I packed my wellies!) was his walks.  Overnight the winds seemed to peak and at one point I thought we'd lose a skylight, but all was still secure and watertight in the morning.

Our journey down to Llandigige Fawr was a wet one; the winds didn't seem as gusty, although still blowing hard.  It's a bit showery now, but not really worth the risk of a walk and ending up with soaking wet kit again.  One of the downsides of being in a small van in this weather is drying out coats and towels.  We use the bathroom as a drying room sometimes - heating on and skylight cracked open - and stuff dries quite quickly. 

I had a mammoth meal cooking session before we left home, making up four meals and freezing two of them to bring with us.  I enjoy cooking in the van, but I prefer it when the van door's open or the BBQ is going outside.  Last night we had fried chicken and salad.  Today it's Thai green curry with naan...with a bottle of beer of course! 

We had no phone signal at Forge, so switched our phones off to save battery.  When we arrived here, I had a DM on Twitter from the Campervan Magazine to say I (actually Salty!) had been picked as this month's competition winner - an Outdoor Revolution sleeping bag!  This is the second prize we've won in this magazine; the first was a big box of dog treats and toys.  I've won a few competitions over the years, the most expensive being a Tracker system and Dashcam for the van.  I don't go hunting for them, but if I seem them pop up in my timeline, I'll usually have a go, even if we don't need the item they're offering as a prize.....someone will be grateful for it.

So a bit of a lazy afternoon and evening, waiting for the weather to improve.  We have a plan to drive down to Abereiddi Beach tomorrow and park up for the day, with a coastal walk if weather allows.  Tonight we'll perhaps watch some TV on the laptop, downloaded on on a hard-drive - movie night!



Saturday 22 May 2021

Nido's spent the day with a great view of the sea at Abereiddi Beach.  We drove here first thing - all of 2 minutes - and were one of the first parked up.  It's £4 for the day and we had the pick of the best spots.  Breakfast was a bacon butty and a cup of tea watching the waves.

We took the coastal path heading north and within a few hundred metres were at the blue lagoon.  This is in fact an old slate quarry, flooded by the sea after a dam was smashed by fishermen looking for a safe haven to shelter their boats from the winter storms. It's now a mecca for wild swimmers and coasteering groups brave enough to plunge into its cold, sapphire waters.  A stag group were the first ones to take to the sea, the groom easily identified by the pink tutu he was wearing on top of his wet suit!  The path took us along the steep cliff edges and we took the steep, metal steps down to Traeth Llyfn.  It's only accessible at low water, the large sandy beach interspersed with rocks and pools.  We were the only ones down there, so Salty had plenty of zoom time off the lead.

Back on the coastal path, we walked for another half and hour to the old harbour village of Porthgain. It grew up around a brickworks, with many of the old buildings still in place.  The village was starting to open to visitors again after what must have been a long lockdown.  We sat at a picnic bench for our lunch before reversing our route back to Abereiddi Beach.  The rest of the afternoon was spent 'sun-pooling' in the van, side door open, watching people enjoy what turned out to be a sunny but fresh day.  The sunshine was welcome after two days of gales and heavy rain, although more is forecast tomorrow.  We really chilled in the van and it reminded us of what we should be doing in retirement.  Salty was tired after his zooming and clifftop walks and spent the afternoon snoozing on the van floor.

Back at the campsite, after showers I warmed up the vegetable chilli I made at home and boiled some rice.  I 'found' a bottle of red wine in the cupboard which was enjoyed as the  sun slowly dropped into the sea.  This has been a good day.

Watching the world go by at Abereiddi Beach

Blue Lagood

Entrance marker to Porthgain harbour (sheltering from the wind)

The old fishermen's hut and the new electric car - Porthgain

'Snake's Wedding'

Traeth Llyfn

Just chillin'

Just watchin'

Just brewin'
Sunday 23 May 2021

Nido's parked up outside the entrance to Longhouse CL in Mathry. Yes, you read that right, outside! With more heavy rain today, we hit the road and headed towards Fishguard, mainly to find somewhere flat and solid to ride out the worst of the storm.  There's a free parking area in Fishguard, behind a garage (which sells LPG by the way) where motorhomes and lorries wait to catch the ferry to Ireland.  We stayed there a while then moved to another small parking area higher up and overlooking the ferry port.  Tea and cake was had (it being Cathy's birthday) then we drove off to visit the beach at Newgale.  Unfortunately the sea view is hidden by a high bank of stones, so we turned around and drove to our next stop, a CL not far from Strumble Lighthouse.  This CL mentions it's on a slight slope but open all year round.  But on arrival, I only managed to get about 20m in before the tyres lost their grip in the mud and foot long grass.  It took 15 minutes of backwards and forwards to gain enough traction to return to the tarmac entrance.  I called the owner, explained the problem and said we'd therefore be unable to stay.  He sort of 'shrugged his shoulders' over the phone (or so I imagine) and we returned to the safety of the Fishguard parking area to work out a plan.

The number of motorhomes and campervans are increasing and, in some cases, we've outnumbered caravans on Camping and Motorhome Club (CAMC) CLs.  The problem with motorhomes is they weigh a lot more.  Some CLs are good and have gravelled or tarmac tracks and pitches.  But many are still just sloping fields of long grass, entirely unsuitable for the thriving numbers of motorhomes looking for somewhere to stay. Perhaps the CAMC need to review some of the CLs' suitability for motorhomes and maybe suggest the owners create hardstanding for one or two.  This would also help extend their season.

I had a reserved list of CLs from my research at home, so rang this one to see if they had any space. The owner said yes, but explained that their field was also soft and we might struggle.  But he offered parking just outside the CL entrance, on much firmer ground, but still with access to the electric hook up over the fence.  Half an hour later I was knocking on the farmhouse door.  The owner was very helpful, suggesting I take a look before deciding.  The area was flat and dry enough (although we are on a bit of a wonk!). But it has a great view of the sea and the neolithic burial chamber called Careg Sampson, with the coastal path running alongside, down to the sea.

The rain finally stopped and we took a walk along the clifftop coastal path, with sapphire sea, caves, arches and jagged rocks. The path runs quite close to the cliff edge in parts and I'm not great with heights!  But we made it back safely and enjoyed watching the sky clear (and the sun appear for a short while) whilst having our meal - and a bottle of Cava to celebrate Cathy's birthday.  Tomorrow we'll take a walk in the opposite direction, first stopping off at the tiny harbour of Abercastell, which we could see from the path.

Careg Sampson - burial chamber next to the CL


Salty protecting me from the sheer cliff face

Monday 24 May 2021

We woke to some sunshine this morning at Marthy so risked a walk with Salty to run off some of his steam and get some fresh air.  On the loop back up the lane the heavens opened and we spent a few hours in the van drying off and steaming!

But later in the afternoon the skies cleared and we headed out again, walking back down the steep coastal path to Abercastell harbour, then back up the other side and along the cliff tops.  About an hour in we turned left, away from the coast and up a footpath, to join a rarely used road track, returning to Abercastell and back up to the CL.  By now the weather had greatly improved and we all sat outside the van on our little grass area by the entrance to the CL.  It was like camping on a village green!  It's right next to the coastal path and we waved and said hello to a few walkers passing by, as well chatting to campers as they returned to the CL.  It was hard for them to miss us to be honest!  The owner came over too and Cathy had a long conversation completely in Welsh - I'm very proud of her!  After some time sat out with a panad and a book, we eventually moved back into the van as the breeze cooled, although the sun was still shining.  Dinner tonight was omelettes and salad; Salty had his first taste of omelette and approved!

Once cleared away we had tea and cake whilst watching a couple of YouTube videos from Camper Vibe and John & Mandy.  The sun's setting over the sea and it's very quiet here.  Time to take the doggo for his final walk of the night.  A relaxing - if sometimes soggy - day.

Abercastell





Our lovely, little pitch just outside the CL entrance

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Our plan was to make our way slowly north and stop at a pub near Machynlleth for a meal and to stay overnight in their car park.  After leaving the CL this morning and, as we drove up, we decided instead to get some fish and chips around lunch time then head home.  We stopped off at New Quay and bought some lovely fish and chips from the Lime Crab on the seafront, taking them back to the car park to eat in the van.

After that it was a couple of hours to get home to unload, clean the van and empty the loo.... that's Van Life!

Wednesday 28 April 2021

Post-Lockdown trip to Llandrillo

 Sunday 25 April 2021

It's over eight months since we were last out in the van and we're very happy to be back! Our last trip away was a couple of days on the Llyn Peninsula in early August 2020, although the last time I blogged was our stay on a C&CC CS in the village of Cynwyd in July last year.

We're now on a CL about 3 miles south of Cynwyd, very close to the village of Llandrillo. We've had a relaxing day, enjoyed our dinner and are now chilling out in the van with a cup of tea and a cherry bakewell, having watched the sun set over the hills to the west. The CL is full, so it's clearly a popular one.

With some Lockdown restrictions only recently lifted (although pubs, restaurants and cafes are still closed in Wales) we didn't want to travel too far from home.  So the hour and a half's journey here was about right.  We'd packed up the van over the past few days and loaded some foodie treats to celebrate our first van trip for many months. Salty loves being in the 'vanny' but for some reason he seemed very spooked during the journey.  Over the past months he's spent quite a bit of time in the van as we worked on a few internal improvements, but that was static on the drive.  He seemed very unsettled and ended up crouched under my driving seat, unwilling to come out.  It didn't help when we stopped at the Rhug Estate - just a few miles short of our destination - to find the car park rammed with hundreds of revving motorbikes.  

Shortly after we arrived at this C&MC CL - called Tynant - part of a working farm.  It's a lovely spot, with 360' views and surrounded by newly born lambs.  It's a long time since we had a van trip, so it took a while to get back into the routine of using the levelling ramps, getting hooked up to electric and getting the kettle on!  Lunch was a quiche bought at Rhug and a sliver of lemon drizzle cake!  The sun was shining in a cloudless sky, although the breeze was quite chilly.  We relaxed for a couple of hours, soaking up the peace and quiet. The CL has an information 'shed' - literally a wooden shed with lots of information inside.  Some local walks from the site are displayed, so we decided to take a short walk along a footpath track through the forest, mainly to give Salty some exercise and work up his appetite, as he hadn't eaten all day.  The track took us through a lovely old deciduous forest, with a few delightful old Welsh long-cottages and small-holdings.  This is shooting country and there were a lot of pheasants on the path and close by in the woods. Our passing flushed them out of cover and poor Salty didn't know which way to turn!  He's a terrier; flushing and chasing prey is instinctive, so he's always on a lead.  The sun felt warm in the still shelter of the trees and we enjoyed listening to the birdlife and the river flowing below. This path is part of a longer walk we'll do on another day, so we didn't go too far before retracing our route back to the van.  On the way down we met one of the owners as we walked through the farmyard and Cathy had a good, long chat with her entirely in Welsh, whilst Salty said hello to their docile black labrador in his usual grumpy terrier style!

Dinner was pre-cooked fried chicken with salad and a bottle of white wine, enjoyed in the warmth of the van, looking out over the fields and hills.  The sun eventually set over the  wind turbines set on the brow of a hill to the west and the sky slowly turned pink then purple.  The wind has dropped and the silence is only broken by the new-born lambs calling for mum.  Salty has settled down thankfully and spent the evening sat in the driver's seat watching the lambs (from the safety of a locked van), before snoozing.  

We've recently invested in a new memory foam mattress, replacing the uncomfortable coil-sprung one; it's going to be much kinder to our backs, the springs won't be sticking in me and we won't be rolling into the middle any more!  I think the deafening silence here, combined with new mattress and pillows, will result in snoring all round....not too long from now!  Tomorrow we'll explore a bit more, with a walk up to a circle of cairns in the Berwyn mountains.  Goodnight all.

View from the Galley

Relaxing after a stressful journey for Salty


Monday 26 April 2021

We slept really well and didn't surface until gone 0800, mainly due to Salty reminding me that he really needed to go!  It was warm, sunny and still, so we had breakfast outside.

Our walk today started off in the same direction as yesterday, but instead of heading into the forest, we took the right track and started to quickly ascend, pausing regularly to take in the view (aka - get our breath back). The tarmac track soon turned into rougher ground as we climbed, passing through a few gates and past some 'christmas' tree enclosures.  Just past Coed Elin, we left the path and headed north-east uphill to the summit of Moel Ty-uchaf.  There we found a cairn circle with a depression in the middle.  It wasn't hard to imagine this as a meeting place in the Bronze age, with panoramic views all around.  We stopped a while (to 'take in the view' again!) with a panad, before descending back to the path and continuing south east, climbing steadily.  

Just before the summit of Moel Pearce, we sat on the dry, mossy grass and had our lunch. We took the same route down back to the campsite for a panad outside the van, before a dinner of chicken jalfrezi (which I had cooked at home) heated in the Remoska and naan (warmed up on the gas stove in the Ridge Monkey).  As the evening cooled down I could feel the heat of the sun on the back of my neck - must remember to spray the suncream there tomorrow.  We're now relaxing in the van with a cup of tea, Salty snoozing on the passenger seat and again deafened by the silence surrounding us.

According to the forecast, the weather will start breaking down tomorrow - cooler, cloudy, 50% chance of rain showers.  The clouds are already building from the west. We have a walk planned but we'll play it by ear.   





Circle of Cairns - Moel Ty-uchaf



View from our lunch stop


Tuesday 27 April 2021

A cloudier and cooler day with the threat of a few showers, but not enough to put us off our walk.  

Today's route took us back through the forest we explored on the first night here, firstly through Coed-y-Glyn, then Coed Llynor, running alongside Afon (River) Llynor and out the other end and up on to open moorland, before descending to cross the river at Pont Rhyd-yr-Hydd.  We stopped here to sit on a lovely slate bench, provided in memory of Maureen Stone; a peaceful spot with a small waterfall and pool.  There's also an old sheep-dip here, with dry-stone walls forcing the sheep down and into the river.

Climbing back up on our homeward route along the Tegid Way, we walked above Coed Llynor with lovely views to the west, noting some rain on the distant mountains.  Now descending, we turned right on another path that took us pass the farms of Ty'n-y-cae-mawr and Moel-is-y-goedwig-isaf, before returning to the path by the yard of Ty-Nant, where the CL owners live.  A short walk down and we were back at the van, walking boots off (and feet steaming!) and kettle on.  Sat in the van with tea and cake, a few gentle rain showers came through, but not enough to dampen the grass.  The rest of the afternoon has been spent by Cathy and Salty snoozing (gentle snoring to the left and right of me!), while I caught up with some Mon SAR emails and sorted out the photos.

Tonight's dinner is baguette and bratwurst (both cooked in the RidgeMonkey) and some salad.  We're all tired after two good days of walking and it'll be an early night tonight before we pack up to head home tomorrow.






Poor photo of a red kite





Pont Rhyd-yr-Hydd

"Maureen Stone - a woman of grace, joy and laughter"

Sheep dip






A small splash of colour

Nido....panad a teisan!

Wednesday 28 April 2021

A rainy night, but it had stopped by morning, which made striking camp a little easier.  I'd looked for a place to stop for lunch and we decided on Llyn Brenig.  There were a couple of stops marked on the Park4Night and Search for Sites apps at the adjacent Llyn Alwen, but we decided to visit Llyn Brenig instead, which was just as well, as the Alwen car park is closed until 18 June.

We parked up near the Llyn Brenig Visitor Centre.  I paid the £2.50 daily charge for parking and we walked along the lake, past the Sailing Club and towards the Osprey exhibition and hide.  We could an Osprey on the nest perched on a large post on a small island in the distance, but didn't have binoculars to get a better view.  There's a livecam of the nest on YouTube if you're interested.  It was much colder here, so we didn't hang around for long.  But we noticed plenty of other parking areas away from the visitor centre, so on returning to the van, we drove to one of these for a better view of the lake and the Osprey nest.

Kettle on, I 'baked' a baguette in the RidgeMonkey and we had a tapas lunch, followed by a panad and cake sat overlooking the lake.  It was a really peaceful spot.  It's possible to walk (a long walk!) or cycle around the lake.  We were happy to sit, relax and chat.

Our journey home didn't take long, with a quick stop at Betws-y-Coed as I wanted to look at some walking shoes in Cotswold Outdoors, but I could only look at the shoes 'by appointment' (due to Covid), so I'll get them online, with my SAR team discount.

We enjoyed our few days away.  We stayed on a lovely CL, enjoyed some great walks, had some excellent weather (on the whole) and relaxed.  We'll be planning another trip shortly, perhaps towards south-west Wales - or anywhere else we fancy!






Before

Nearly after!