Monday, 31 August 2009

North Wales Day Trip

14th August 2009

As Elaine has already been to England and Scotland and has booked a 4 day trip to Ireland with my friend's wife Megan I thought it was about time that she set foot in Wales!

It doesn't take too long to drive from Birmingham into North Wales so we set off nice and early in the morning with only a very basic idea of where we were going. As usual we would late fate decide and just follow our noses!

The first port of call was Llangollen because we spotted the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct carrying the Llangollen Canal over the River Dee from the road!

Unusually for Wales at this time of year the sun was shining so we decided to have a closer inspection. We parked at Trevor Basin and had a walk onto he viaduct itself, pretty scary on the towpath but it must be even worse if you happen to be on the outside of a narrow boat!

We set off heading out towards the coast before deciding on Conwy and yet another castle! We found a good parking spot next to the castle and went for a walk around the town.

As Conwy is not very big it didn't take us too long to cover all the streets and decide against going into yet another castle! Conwy will be remembered by Elaine as the first place that she tried Kendal Mint Cake, to which she gave a thumbs up!

We headed towards the royal town of Caernarfon, famous for, guess what? Caernarfon Castle, yet another one to add to the list! This is where Prince Charles was invested as Prince of Wales.

As we parked up I suddenly realised that sometimes it pays to have a plan! I had intended driving via the small town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch on Anglesey which boasts the longest place name in Great Britain. Never mind, that's something to come back for one day!

By now the weather was fairly typical for an August day in this part of the world, grey! We wandered around the town for a while, went through a funfair near the castle, listened in bewilderment to the welsh language and watched the children 'crabbing' on the quayside.

With plenty of daylight left we set off to visit Portmeirion, the strange yet beautiful architectural ode to the Mediterranean created by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.

As it was after 3 o'clock we only had to pay half price to visit the village, a real bargain! It was definitely not beach weather but we had a nice time exploring the village (made famous as the setting for the 1960s TV series The Prisoner) and the nearby estuary. After a trip to the village shop and having an ice-cream each (despite the cold weather) we left and started to head back towards home.

The final port of call for the day was the village of Dolgellau which we reached at about 7 o'clock.

We walked around the town for half an hour, exploring the narrow lanes crammed with traditional stone cottages and trying to decipher the various signs that we saw which were in welsh only!

We were getting hungry so we chose one of the handful of very inviting looking pubs, the Unicorn Inn, for our evening meal. It was a great choice as we both devoured the fabulous local lamb shank, washed down with a pint of Brains Dark.

We headed off into the near darkness and the border! Another hour or so later and we were back home after a long but interesting day trip.

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