Borth Village

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Llandudno

Llandudno

Wednesday evening 14 May 2014
After a lengthy tour of Penrhyn castle and a brief diversion through Llandudno on a small peninsula north of Anglesey, we stopped for dinner supplies at a Welsh Farm Food attraction, then pressed back on up and over the mountains past Betws-y-Coed (Betis-y-coid) back to Dolgellau through idyllic Cymru countryside, turning aside towards Borth, and finding ourselves on a seaside lane facing the setting sun in a hostel where only one other couple was residing.

Borth Village

Borth Village

My first stop was to climb the promenade seawall and approach the shore of cobblestone on sand facing west into a bright sunset on a shallow shore of calm water with minor swells. A peaceful shore, but not beachy, it was not appealing for swimming, but for dreaming. We ate well and slept well, enjoying some television viewing and Ben and Jerry’s Fish Food ice cream purchased at discount from the Family Store down the lane.

Borth beaches

Borth beaches

Fantasy Castle

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Fantasy Castle

Fantasy Castle

Although a newer 18th century Norman castle, it was impressive in all aspects and commanded our attention for several hours, exploring all the rooms, taking many pictures, and also hiking about the walled garden and boggy garden. Grotesque faces and motifs were repeated throughout, making it interesting, but macabre. What an enormous amount of wealth was invested into this monumental residence! Enjoy this collage of fantasy images!

Tinted Towers

Tinted Towers

Delicious interiors

Delicious interiors

Arch symmetry

Arch symmetry

Fancy carvings

Fancy carvings

Toothy grins

Toothy grins

Leering faces

Leering faces

Spiral staircases to deep dungeons

Spiral staircases to deep dungeons

Stained Glass

Stained Glass

Framing the light

Framing the light

Playing with light

Playing with light

Climbing Vines

Climbing Vines

Battlements

Battlements

Penrhyn Castle

Penrhyn Castle

Penrhyn Vistas

Penrhyn Vistas

Portraits

Portraits

Slate majesty

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Slate majesty

Slate majesty

Stiles, slate mines, black hills, & rusty roots

Stiles, slate mines, black hills, & rusty roots

Wednesday 14 May 2014 dawned lazy so we made no rapid escape from Llanberis moody vale of narrow lakes and slate mines at the foot of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).

Llanberis moods & campgrounds

Llanberis moods & campgrounds

I took a short walk up the lane and explored muddy sheep pastures and paths through camping grounds and on stiles over rock walls as hikers explored their maps and GPS also in search of the paths through shepherd’s fields that lead to the Snowdon trail.

Sheep &  Rams & Bonny Brook

Sheep & Rams & Bonny Brook

Fenced in cascades filled with debris were nonetheless scenic, and I appreciated seeing the green campground devoid of the many campers that will fill it in summer.

...except for death...

…except for death…

Llanberis icons

Llanberis icons

Enjoying fried eggs and orange-fig marmalade on toast, we checked out of the hostel after 10:00am, cruising through the narrow rock-hedged lanes to the crest, pausing at occasional turnouts to gaze up at the waterfalls and slate mountains.

Snowdonia waters

Snowdonia waters

At the top, we traversed the high ridges gazing down on verdant green meadows far below, then descended narrow rock-hedged passages past scenic turnouts, stopping at shallow Llyn Ogwen to nap while rock climbers scaled the granite.

Anglesey Port & Dudley Garage

Anglesey Port & Dudley Garage

I would have loved to have had time to climb these mountains, but was sleepy and at peace just viewing, so we passed the moody morning waiting for the sun. Awaking to sunshine, we dropped into Bangor to get lost searching for Penryn Castle on the University hill’s winding lanes on this scenic crossing into Anglesey, eventually getting directions to land at the Penrhyn castle that Rachel felt drawn to. It was a worthwhile tour.

Verdant fields & Galleon skies

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Verdant fields & Galleon skies

Verdant fields & Galleon skies


Tuesday 13 May 2014
Thinking that our first day in Wales would get increasingly scenic, I regret now that we did not stay longer at Port Eynon, as I think that this was my favorite retreat during the entire week. Nor would the Gower Peninsula easily release its magnetic attraction to us.

A blaze of formidable hedges

A blaze of formidable hedges

Celery Spider

Celery Spider


Retracing our route through the Gower Peninsula proved a mite challenging, and we ended up at a dead end on the far northwest point, enjoying the pastoral scene and pausing to view fertile fields over tall hedgerows. After this experience, we pulled out the compass to reorient whenever we were uncertain of our direction.

Welsh walls, old and new

Welsh walls, old and new

Returning to the ample motorways for some distance west to St Clears, we bypassed Llanelli (Thlanethli) and continued cruising through scenic Pembrokeshire, then turned off onto narrow coastal roads to reach Tenby, from which some of Susan’s ancestors hailed.

Floral walls

Floral walls

Before we realized we had missed the turn into the Tenby City Center, we were already bound up the narrow coastal road bound by rock walls and hedgerows.

Manorbier Castle

Manorbier Castle

Celtic battlements & steeds

Celtic battlements & steeds

Pausing at Manorbier Castle guarding an inlet to the sea, a careful rider approached on a huge horse with long hairy footlocks, an ancient steed out of some Arthurian legend.

Pembrokeshire Coast

Pembrokeshire Coast

Continuing on towards Pembroke, the roads eventually widened and sped up over mighty headlands that drew us ever onward towards impressive bays and harbors that boasted sandy shorelines. Sand schooners were plying the windy shore at one beachhead and small oil tankers anchored offshore in the distance.

Stranded on the Pembroke sand

Stranded on the Pembroke sand

Multiple photo stops at other hamlets and ports, some well inland, featured a flotilla of sailing vessels stranded on the sand at low tide.

Haverfordwest towers, gates & gables

Haverfordwest towers, gates & gables

Rejoining ample two-lane highways past Haverfordwest’s prominent clock tower, the Welsh towns and countryside were becoming commonplace, stone houses lining narrow streets.

Fuzzy cattle & wolly lambs

Fuzzy cattle & wolly lambs

Beyond each town, views opened to broad green fields spotted with sheep and newborn lambs tugging at and cuddling up to their ewes, often obscured behind dense hedgerows until a rise or a hill afforded a view over the top.

Celtic scenes

Celtic scenes

Our stop in St David’s was spent briefly exploring the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park visitor center and sitting down to a lunch of soup and sandwich and meat pies.

Porthgain Harbor

Porthgain Harbor

As the roads generally stayed a few miles inland, we took only one more detour down to the shoreline along another narrow lane to Porthgain, pausing briefly to take pictures of this unique old slate-shipping port that was full of tourists like most other places we paused.

Sheltered Fishguard Port

Sheltered Fishguard Port

Cruising through the verdant countryside, we marveled at headlands plunging past pastoral views down to the Irish Sea and the sweeping rise of highlands rising to the east across the width of Wales. Frequent footpaths marked right-of-way trails passing from one field into another past Fishguard, Cardigan, Aberaeron, and into Aberyswyth.

Land & Sea Scapes

Land & Sea Scapes

Turning inland towards Machynlleth (Mackinthleth), we pressed on into the rising crest of Snowdonia National Park through scenic Dolgellau, then down to Porthmadog, where we stopped for gas and shopping at Tesco to purchase the makings of dinner and breakfast. Our final passage bypassed Caernarfon (Care-nare-von) and dropped us into the narrow vale of Llanberis, where it took a little exploring at dusk to find the hostel sign, but we managed to settle in by 8:00pm and enjoyed our microwave meals and crusty bread while attacking a load of laundry that had to dry in a hot radiator filled drying room.

Verdant fields & Galleon skies

Verdant fields & Galleon skies

This was a long 230 mile drive today, but rewarding, traversing the entire western coast of Wales from south to north and crossing through the lower elevations of Snowdonia where a mixed forest contrasted with the fields and hedges of the coastal plain.

Port Eynon

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St Cattwg's

St Cattwg’s


Washed ashore

Washed ashore


I awoke early in Port Eynon and enjoyed a morning jog and walk along the sandy shoreline of this calm bay, but didn’t bother to wade into the cool water whose tide-scoured rocky bottom had lain exposed the previous night.
Shoreline paths

Shoreline paths


Serendipity

Serendipity


Climbing up onto the dunes afforded a broader view of this colorful setting, green with damp grasses and prickly with blackberry vines, punctuated by nodding blue Penstemons, glades of pink Carnations, and many other vivid wildflowers.
Idyllic Port Eynon village

Idyllic Port Eynon village


In the village, holiday homes and larger estates with fenced gardens were all quiet in this off season.
Shells & pebbles

Shells & pebbles


Along the shore, simple pleasures of wet pebbles and the gleanings between Welsh tides caught my lens.
Between Welsh Tides

Between Welsh Tides


A lazy brook drained past the large lifeboat house onto the sand, and the adjoining village was just coming to life with other morning walkers.
Port Eynon boat houses

Port Eynon boat houses


Returning to the hostel, the ample communal kitchen enabled our preparation of an eggy breakfast, and we were soon on our way out, with a gift for Rachel of a small Welsh pendant of red dragon on green and white field, proclaiming ancient heritage.
Fast fox & feathery fence

Fast fox & feathery fence


While crossing the camping field, I spied a large red fox, the size of a medium dog, loping over the beach hedgerow across the field and then diving back under a row out of sight. I also had to run back to the hostel to return the key.
Harvesting the tide

Harvesting the tide


Returning over the beach and the dunes, I observed a fisherman preparing to haul in his fish nets with a tractor, but didn’t have time to stay and observe.
Memorial to Lifeboatmen

Memorial to Lifeboatmen


Glory of God

Glory of God


Passing St Cattwg’s Church, we paused to view the cemetery and impressive memorial to lifeboatmen who drowned during a rescue. The epitaph reflects the deep faith of these seafaring folk.

Impressions of Wales

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Impressions of Wales

Impressions of Wales

Farewell Achoo airbags & welcome to gleeful Gleeo

Farewell Achoo airbags & welcome to gleeful Gleeo

Although we got up at 4:30am and were packed and on the way to Wales by 5:15am, we got waylaid. First stop was McDonalds to satisfy Rachel’s craving for a bite of porridge (oatmeal) that was really a bit of all right. Then we got turned around a few times trying to find the A26 junction and ended up back on Lewes Street in Newhaven when I grazed a curb and set off the passenger side air bags. I just couldn’t keep this car from crowding the left curb when driving on the left on narrow lanes and roundabouts. And thus ended the quick getaway. The car sustained no other damage, but I was a bit shaken up.

Brighton breezes

Brighton breezes

By the time I got AA to tow the Peugeot 208 to Brighton and returned with a VW Polo, revised our extensive travel plans to eliminate the distance to Scotland and restrict our range to southern England and Wales, we had lost our touring advantage and departed at noon.

Cholderton Farm Shop's feathered feet welcoming committee

Cholderton Farm Shop’s feathered feet welcoming committee

Along the way, it rained and poured, sprinkled and shone sunny, over and over and over as we passed big port cities on the fast motorways, often cruising along at 70-80mph. Hungry by 3pm, we stopped for a late lunch at Cholderton’s Farm Store where colorful hens and cocks with tufted feet paraded about, and we enjoyed wonderful food and a much needed break.

Impressions of Wales

Impressions of Wales

Crossing into Wales on a wide motorway over a huge toll bridge over the Bristol River, we found industrial Wales more modern than the rural shirelands and downs of England. We filled up a service area west of Swansea and topped off our tanks at a Burger King to save time, then headed off to the Gower peninsula winding past picturesque tidelands and small towns on the edge of the moors, past pregnant wild ponies with long forelocks and bushy manes, fields of brown or white sheep with the iconic lone black, and a dryer landscape less lush and more visible and familiar. I really like the look of Wales.

Ruins at Port Eynon

Ruins at Port Eynon

Reaching the shoreline at Port Eynon, we towed our baggage through a field to the Youth Hostel and settled in, but not before Rachel and I ran down to see the ruins at the mouth of the bay. The moon is nearly full and the tide is way out, and we’ll greet the dawn with the tide fully in.