Friday 15 May 2015

A weekend in Betws y Coed

Friday 8 May 2015
Our good friends - Ray & Julie - had booked a cottage near Betws y Coed for a week's holiday.   So we arranged to stay on a campsite close-by, so we could meet up but also so Ray and I could go for a bike ride.  I booked us on to the Rynys Campsite from the Saturday, about 2 miles out of Betws y Coed, almost opposite the Conwy Falls Cafe.

But for the first night away I was at work during the day, so we wouldn't be leaving until later. Given that I picked up the campervan from storage the night before, which allowed Cathy to load him up ready for a quick getaway.  Back home after work, the rain was very heavy and I got soaked putting my bike on the rack for the first time.  But all was soon secured and after drying off we drove into the rain.  Our first stop was planned to be a Britstop on the car park of a farm shop about 15 miles away from Betws.  On arrival we took a look; the stop was fine and the shop looked great for stocking up in the morning, but there was also  Britstop at a pub just a few miles up the road.  Given it was late and we hadn't eaten, we thought it would be good to take a look and see if we could eat there.  We arrived at the pub, parked up at the far end of the car park and popped down to the pub - by now the rain had finally stopped.  It was a basic but friendly local pub and the food menu was standard fare but reasonably priced.  Cathy ordered a steak and I had ribs and, after a beer, the food quickly arrived.  Well fed and watered, we turned in for the night.

Saturday 9 May 2015
It was quite blowy in the night and we were parked under a tree; only in the morning did I look out and realise it was three-parts dead, but luckily nothing fell on the van.  After breakfast we headed back to the farm shop to do some shopping. We brought some great bread, wild boar pate, organic red wine and some welsh cakes.  I also bought a couple of OS maps.  We then decided to drive to Bala lake.  We hadn't been here since 1984, when Cathy was expecting Chris!  I drove around the southern edge and back around the opposite side, parking in the main car park close to Bala village.  We had a great view of the weather coming in from the west and sat for a while with a brew, watching the squalls come over.  Once this blew over we went out for a walk in a brisk wind, but at least it stayed dry. We walked around the lake edge as far as the sailing club, then returned to the van to enjoy our lunch.

The campsite was about a 25 minutes drive away, just off the A5 and up a steep track.  On arrival I parked up near the entrance and walked up to the house to pay and sort out a pitch. The owner was very helpful & friendly and showed me three possible pitches, including one close to the house on hardstanding, as many of the pitches were water-logged due to 5 days of rain.  I decided to take one higher up which, despite being soggy underfoot, had a picnic table right next to the pitch and great views of the hills and valleys.  With EHU on, Cathy made a brew and we had a bit of a sort out.  

There were some lovely walks from the campsite so we decided to visit Fairy Glen, a lovely area of boulders and white water from the River Conwy, in a deep valley.  The walk down was beautiful and the sun shone which, in the shelter of the valley, was very warm.  

We'd already planned for Ray & Julie to come to us for a BBQ, once they had settled into their holiday cottage. They arrived at about 6pm and we enjoyed a good catch up over burgers, sausages, salad and wine.  It was too chilly to sit out but we all fitted inside Nido and, with the heating on, he kept us toasty warm.  They headed off at about 10pm and after washing up we settled down for the night.

Sunday 10 May 2015
The next morning I was up early, breakfasted and heading out on the bike by 0930.  I'd already researched a bike ride - a 13 mile circular route but with the ride to and from the start point, it would be about 17 miles.  The ride down the A5 was great - 2 miles of downhill - and I waited for Ray at the bottom.  Once we'd RV'd we rode off through Betws y Coed, across a river bridge and immediately headed up a very steep minor road, a bit of a shock to the system! We stopped a few times to *ahem* admire the view (and catch our breath!) and finally made it to the top, before descending to ride alongside Llyn Geirionydd, a long, narrow lake.  After this we had a very steep descent into the village of Trefriw.  To say my brakes were almost smoking would be no exaggeration and even Ray was looking a little worried!  Having survived that we rode through the market town of Llanrwst, finishing with an undulating 3 mile ride, with a headwind, back in to Betws y Coed.  We stopped for our obligatory Latte at the Stables Inn in the heart of the village before heading back to our respective 'homes'.  Having enjoyed the 2-mile freewheel down at the start of my ride, I of course then had a slog back up the hill, but it was a steady climb on a busy but smooth A5, although on turning off for the campsite I did have to walk part of the hill!

After lunch, a shower and a snooze, Ray & Julie collected us and we headed back down for dinner at the Stables Lodge.  The food was basic but hot and filling and we again enjoyed a good catch up with the oldsters.  They dropped us back at the site and headed off to enjoy the rest of their week's holiday.  It was great to see them and we'll be catching up again next month in Gosport.

Monday 11 May 2015
It rained hard in the night and blew a hooley, so again the pitch was a bit waterlogged in the morning.  After breakfast, we packed a flask, Cathy's pizza doggy-bag from last night and some fruit cake and walked to an ancient burial chamber - Capel Garmon.  We carried on walking through the village before returning via a different route to the burial chamber, where we had a brew and some food.  The sun was shining with a stiff, cool breeze, but the views were great.

Back at the van we packed up, emptied fluids and headed off back home, cleaning the van before I took him back to the storage site. We enjoyed our trip and will certainly return to that part of Wales at some point.