I have just come back from a week in Wales. We went to a place where there is no phone signal and not even a hope of connecting to the internet so you have no choice but to properly relax and get away. Holidaying with the family is always good fun; lots of meals in, walks and catching up on silly things. This is what I got up to over the week and, if you’re heading off to mighty Wales, I hope it gives you some ideas for what to do.
We started up in Snowdonia National Park staying in possibly the strangest hotel I’ve ever been to. It was one of those hotels that time forgot; apparently the cleaner forgot some of it too but when has dust ever hurt anyone? The room was nice but it was like a gadget bomb had exploded in there and each individual piece of technology had adhered itself to a socket or wall. No idea what any of it was for. The shower deserves a special mention for being (literally) out of this world weird. There were lights on the outside, inside and all over the place; nozzles, knobs and buttons everywhere and doors that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a spaceship air locker. On the plus there was a radio in there but it would only tune to white noise. Never mind. Despite its many, many options for water temperature, angle and point of exit it was a surprising disappointment; not much more aggressive than a thick fog.
Much bathroom amusement aside we took a lovely walk around Coed y Brenin, apparently it’s quite the place if you like mountain biking. It was a sunny day and we walked around the forest which used to contain a mine (I think) and saw a very pretty, secluded waterfall. All along the sides of the path were wild blackberries, raspberries and bilberries so it took quite a long time to get round amongst all the nibbling.
After this we headed to the seaside town of Barmouth. A massive sandy beach and rolling hills in the distance it was a great to sit on the beach in the evening. A quick wander round and a cup of coffee; wish we’d had longer to poke around the shops. We attempted to visit Portmeirion but apparently there was a festival on which meant the entire town was shut to outsiders. Yeah, I’m not sure why either.
We planned to climb Snowdon but when we turned up at Llanberis pass we found out the cycling Tour of Britain would shortly be coming through. There was a slight drizzle and cloud covering Snowdon so despite much mountaineering enthusiasm we didn’t actually know which one it was. We decided it would be better to watch the cycling.
The rest of the week was spent near Builth Wells popping out to visit Llandrindod Wells, the Elan Valley, Brecon, Hay-on-Wye and generally having a bit of a relax. If you visit the Elan Valley there are six dams which make up the reservoir and each one is different. You can drive round to see them if time is of the essence but we actually hired bikes and cycled to see them all. A picnic at the top of one of the dams was amazing; we were the only ones there. Halfway round my bike broke a little bit. I’m not sure of the technical term but I’m fairly certain the chain is meant to be on the bike, not hanging down on the floor, but I never complain so I just manned up and got on with it. Who am I kidding; much swearing and emergency repairs ensued and in a blink I was back on the road.
Hay-on-Wye is always worth a visit; we had some tapas while sat outside (in September!) and a good wander around the many independent shops. I picked up some great Welsh (and other British) beers which I am looking forward to trying. And who knew Llandrindod Wells is home to a brilliantly detailed but succinct cycling museum?
I really enjoy holidaying in the UK; it’s good to get away and even though you’re not too far away you’re in a whole other place. I very much enjoyed replacing my usual morning toast with Welsh Cakes or Bara Brith. Next stop, who knows.