TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess
We couldn’t have picked a better time to have a short break in Wales. The country was buzzing with the success of their football team and, in advance of their semi-final game against Portugal, we could see plenty of support, flags dangling out of windows as we drove through the country.
Our accommodation was in Caernarfon which proved to be an excellent base for our mini-holiday as it’s very close to a number of attractions. The town itself, a World Heritage Site, is famous for its castle and within the old town there are some great little independent shops and restaurants. Our meals were certainly cosmopolitan; Chinese, Italian, Greek and Dutch fare with a few delicious Welsh cakes thrown in just to remind ourselves where we were.
Mount Snowdon is less than half an hour’s drive from Caernarfon and we did dither for some time whether to reach the summit by train or walk up. In the end, keen to do some walking but not really equipped for a full ascent and descent of the highest mountain in Wales, we opted for a hike round Llyn Idwal, a beautiful lake hidden in a hanging valley a little further north.
I think we chose wisely as the hike tested us just enough, mainly due to the fact that we took the wrong path at one point and consequently had to negotiate a tricky stream crossing and a more difficult descent than anticipated. It was still an achievement which we celebrated with a lamb and mint pasty at the base of the mountain. Isn’t that what all mountain climbers do?
A more leisurely day was spent in Portmeirion, a truly striking village designed in Italian style by architect Clough Williams-Ellis, whose aim was to ‘cherish the past, adorn the present, construct for the future’. Some of you will remember it was used as the location for the TV series, The Prisoner.
Other pretty towns and villages within easy reach of Caernarfon include Beddgelert where we saw the grave of the faithful hound to Prince Llewelyn the Great and discovered the sad legend surrounding his death. Equally picturesque was Betws-y-Coed which boasts a large village green, plenty of riverside walks and gorgeous cakes at the Alpine Coffee Shop.
Located on the banks of the Menai Straits, Caernarfon is also ideally located for trips to Anglesey. With a great road network over the two free bridges, we zipped across the island, taking a brief detour to be photographed in front of the station sign for Llanfair pwllgwyngyll gogery chwyrn drobwll llan tysilio gogo goch.
Near the ferry port of Holyhead we found South Stack, a remote lighthouse and RSPB reserve. This is well worth exploring if you have the stamina for more than 1,000 steps and can dodge the dive-bombing sea birds. On the other side of Anglesey we spent a fascinating afternoon in Copper Kingdom, around the port of Amlwch, which used to be the world’s centre for copper production.
I’ll be writing in more detail about these attractions on my blog over the coming weeks so if this has whetted your appetite for Wales, pop over to www.mumsgoneto.co.uk to read more.