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WALES      DIARY 3   2016   

Map + Plan
             Diary 1 2 3

From the westcoast, I now follow the northern coast - roughly.

5/6 My blinds keep the flies out, but when I return from the shower, the car is filled with them. I only know on trick: Flee! I find a place with a great view, and get my breakfast there. More huge, green hills with some trees and a lot of sheep. Oh-yes, I have seen a lot of kites for a long time. And buzzards and occasional eagles.
The original plan was to head for the coast to see Porthdinllaen, but I rather make that a detour, and keep zigzagging up through Snowdonia.
A few, sleepy villages are found near the big rivers, and I do some short walks here. There are several species of gees at the sides of the river, and other water birds are found here too.
A bigger village, or even town? have a nice clock tower on the square,  but it is Sunday, and here are no people at all. The road leads through rather large forests, and then the true highland starts. Massive hills - or actually; mountains, partly covered in grass, partly rocks. The sun is right in on them, and the motives are fantastic.
At one point, I try to find out where I am, and it seems like I have passes a large lake. U-turn, and down a narrow road to Tal Y Llyn. Grazing cattle, swamps and a big lake with green mountains behind. Some with forest, some with grassland. Close by, Tywyn and Abergynolwyn is found, but I head back on track.

The mountains keep getting higher, and the morning mist have gone. I practically stop at any possible chance I get, and do many short walks, both on and away from the road. Sometimes, I just stop on the road, knowing it make take kilometres before there is a opening in the slate-stone walls, touching the asphalt on both sides. A lot of times, I can't fit the motive into the frame. Small waterfalls can be followed from almost the top, all they way to the button of the valley.
In the highest places, rocks dominates, in the low, it is the river. After two hours, my brain and my camera need to cool down, and I get a pot of tea and a real tasty roasted cheese and pepperfruit flute with fresh herbs.
I just miss the steam train, running in the button of the valley, but I stop anyway, and make a walk along the river.
The entire area is a wild mix of rivers, swamps, meadows, grassland, ancient oaks, endless walls, sheep, conifer forests, and a few stone houses, with the ever present mountains behind. It is more or less just like this I had imagined the Alps, although this is a 1:5 model
When the National Trust sign for Craflwyn turns up, I go for it. It is mainly about walks, and I make a loop around the forest. A bench, formed as a dragon is superb work, but look a bit strange in the forest. From one clearing, there is a perfect view to the other side of the canyon. Here, the Rhododendrons rules, and they are flowering now. Ferns and mosses indicates quite some rain, and frequently. Now, they just show the lack of it.
Back at the car, I head out through more green or almost barren mountains, and despite my eager, they are just too big for my camera. The few places one can park or just ditch the car for a minute, are with meters. And I actually see a meter-man, way out here a Sunday morning!

At two, I leave the Snowdonian highland for now, and turn into Penrhyn Castle. It is fare from the larges castle I have seen, and it look like it was designed a thousand years ago, but build yesterday. Well, it was designed to look exactly like an ancient castle, but it was build for less than 200 years ago. The builder's farther made money on sugar and slaves, he made it on slate. He had the only slate quarry in Britain, and that is a good living, when that is used as roof on every house. I actually passes the open mine - or hillsides on the way here. The castle is of cause build in granite, and I think the flat roofs will be led.
The layout is a bit like five castles with a few additions. It is not possible to make one photo of it, there is always something behind trees or other towers. It most of all look like a cartoon castle from the outside. Inside, it is real sophisticated. The oak and sandstone work is exclusive and all over. The stairways, the three story tall halls and two story bedrooms. The sealing are just as artistically worked on. I loos my way a few times, and it is only a part of the entire castle, which are open to the public. I guess no expenses was spared, and it couldn't be grateful enough.
The "stables" are a collection of real old steam trains, and a few old geezers look like school kids in a candy store.
I find the gardens, but they are not really that glorious. Only the walled is open, while the water-garden is being maintained - or something. The Fuchsia arches are nice.

While I'm here, I might as well drive out over the Britain Bridge to the island out of the Welsh coast, and visit Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Well, that was the old name, and I did see it, in the steam train museum at  Penrhyn Castle. The city limit sign say Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, and 20 letters is enough to stand out. A tour around the island only reveals; it look pretty muck like the rest of the lowlands of Wales.
Here are some camp-site signs, but despite there is a tent on several signs, leading to the first place,  they do not aloud tents or cars. The next is 19 pound, and it look like five at best. The third say he is full, but that must be of bullshit. I can see the nicely lawns with only a few caravans. One is apparently closed, two have only caravans on their signs, and one send me on long expedition to nowhere. A huge nursery offers good food, but only till I get there, then there is closed. They have a huge range of stuff for gardens, houses, homes, fishing, camping and a few plants. The plants inside is in a room with carpet. A first for me! Anyway, they have a 24H gas station with quite some fresh vegetables, and that is convenient, when the Co-Operative, M&S and the others have closed at four, before I reached any of them.
I still have 50 kilometres to go back to Porthdinllaen, and something do turn up. The owner is to evening mess, but I can just find me a spot in the tent area.
This huge lawn end at the green dunes, next to the sea. I pack my dinner and computer for a picnic, and enjoy the last sun of the day, on a bench on the dunes, overlooking the sea.
This is the first BYO toilet I have seen in England and Wales, which else have numerous, clean toilets everywhere - with paper.

The two major and rather surprising events of the day: Snowdonia and Penrhyn Castle and Garden must have their own slideshows. And this was almost the last of the West coast.

6/6 The tour start a bit backwards to the little harbour village of PorthdinlIaen. The first part is through Snowdonia - or at least, it does look that way. Huge barren hills and fields with sheep. One stretch is through heather-hills, all narrow and winding roads.
On this peninsular on a peninsular, several small harbours are found - and I find the wrong one. Never the less, it does offer a great view to the coastline and the misty cliffs further down. When I continues, I find out the entire peninsular is a golf curse. It is a long walk, and around halfway, I figures I have seen enough of that particular village.

I can't help my self; I have to take the long way to Bodnant Gardens: It leads through Snowdonia. The first part is dominated by flowering Rhododendrons, then the more barren rocks take over. Followed by huge trees, and the road is just a tunnel through.
I do several stops and short walks, especially at the rivers. Some look like mercury this calm morning. They turn surprisingly deep near the brinks. Steeper than 45 degree. In other places, the water is quicker, and big boulders are found in the stream.
The next area look like true mountains in the morning mist, it is only the few trees that give them away. A lake is like a mirror, and I have a chat with a fisherman, while mother mallard take the small for a swim.
Further in the national park, and the barren rocks look like a query - and it might have been one in ancient times. I walk up along a small creek, and scare the sheep. As the border to Snowdonia National Park is reached, the landscape flattens out, and cattle start to grass on the lush meadows.
I do a stop at an Inn, who offers a veggie-sausage sandwich I can't refuse. A bit heavy in the onions, but at least different.

It have taken considerable time to reach Bodnant Garden, but it was a great tour. The parking lot is huge. Further more; it is full! Apparently, they have a fantastic Laburnum Arch, which is flowering right now. On top of that, the biggest garden magazines have written about it the last week. Well, I'm here now, and I'm going in.
Luckily, it turns out to be a waste garden: 32 hectares, and here are easily room for all 3000 visitors. It is only twice what they usually have, and they vanish in the area.
The garden was stared in 1792, but it really pick up, when industrial chemist Henry Davis Pochin bought the estate. He make the start of the arboretum and the Laburnum arch. His daughter opens the garden to the public, and her son build the rest, and hire several famous botanical collectors, bringing back new exotic and flowering plants to Wales. Many of the plants growing in the garden today, are the first of their species in Europe.
I take a good look at the map, and realises; I won't be able to see it all. The nearest is the crowded  Laburnum arch, then a huge area with large beds with flowering bushes. It seems to go on forever, covering a sloping hillside. Small areas are more finely designed with ponds, arches, and waterfalls.
Then I reach a wide and real deep gorge. Both sides are covered in flowering plants and bushes. In-between are giant Sequoias and Redwood along with other tall trees I'm not familiar with. A river mark the lowest stretch of the gorge, and nice beds fills the brinks.
I follow some signs: Fare End, and it is truly a long walk. But here are exotic plants all the way, manmade features like falls, stairs and steep pathways op the sides. One bridge is a fantastic creation. In a natural angle, looking real natural in granite boulders.
Several lakes and rivers criss-cross the button of this valley, and the huge flowering bushes mirrors them self in the water. The old pin mill - which was brought here in 1939, but it is 200 years old, have a fantastic roof - just ask the mosses! Next to it, is the most pretty garden I ever seen. It is a rather narrow waterfall, running over granite and covered in plants. I try to capture it in a photo, but fails completely. Next to it, on the local hard limestone which is almost barren, a yellow flowering plant find foothold.
Then the more groomed garden starts. A huge, square pond, rose garden, Yew garden, terraces, overgrown walls,  and other real well designed features. One low stair is round, and that is brilliant. Plenty of cast iron, fine figures and of cause: Plants. I have a long chat with one of the 22 gardeners. They must be working hard, as it all look quite well maintained.
Next to the house is some beds with more succulent- and other plants from dry areas. I find a flowering Allium karataviense I can't recall ever seeing before. The large greenhouse is part of the house, and not open. And it is quite neglected too. After the last walled gardens, I finish at the Laburnum arches again. I must admit; they are fantastic. I need a cup of tea and a chair, before I head on.

The National Botanical Garden of Wales recommended a peninsular named Orme, only 17 kilometres away, and why not? The road leads through another seaside town, with a line of old hotels at the coast. The beach, forming a perfect horse-shoe in-between to mountains, is made up by rolling stones, but the lowest part is sand.
The point is Great Orme; Country Park & Nature Reserve. I pay the fee of three pound, and drive on.
Mainly barren, hard limestone, but with plenty of interesting herbs. I see several, which are new to me. I walk a lot on the shadow side, and when I reach the "sunny" side, the sun have gone. But that won't stop me from walking and climbing. Here, I find the first heather to flower.
As I stop in Orme town to set the GPS, a real enthusiastic man turns up. He must be the number one Lupo fan of the world! He have only seen the true 3L once, as it have never been sold in England, and he is so thrilled! He ask to see it inside and then he get his camera. He know everything about my little car - way more than I. He ask, if he can sit in it, and if he may take photos of the engine. And yes, he is a normal person, just with a vied hobby. He does not really notes the lack of three seeds, but he mention the steel wheels four times; it is magnesium.
His own Lupo 1.4 petrol have the number plate: L50 UPO.

It is getting late, and I start looking for food, diesel and a camp-side on my 80 kilometre drive east, towards Chirke Castle. I get the food, but the only camp I see, is full. Right next to Chirke Castle is a caravan park, but no chance they will let me sleep there. A pair of dog-walkers think I can find a camp-side near Horse-shoe Waterfalls, around 17 kilometres back. I did see the Campers for Sale, but not the tent-area. Real close to an entire tank-full of diesel, just before I reach the camp. None at the reception, but "Call Paul". Bit hard without out signal. The caravan area is easily reach, but I'm not stupid enough to try. The tent lawn is on the other side of a gate, but a camper opens it with their card, and I'm the trailer. I see Paul passes my car, picking up trash after ten, and I call him. Nice guy, and I'm welcome. Somehow, it is after midnight, before I'm finish, despite I have only used three tags for the many photos.

7/6 The day start with a bit of planning, as I'm close to the next sight, which most likely will open at ten. The road back to Chirke Castle leads me pass the Horseshoe Falls, and why not? I'm here all by my self, but it is not what I had expected. It is real wide, some 50 metres, and water all the way around. But it is only a bit more than half a meter high. It is in nice settings, and the old trees and nicely sheep-trimmed grass look fine in the morning mist.
Further op the trail, the minor road run on the edge of a small mountain, overlooking a huge valley. A rather large village can be seen in one end, the rest is farmland. And if it wasn't for the mist, it would look great on photo.
I pass a field, with what I think is medieval cattle. Besides from that, it seems like everyone here around - the last week driving or so, only grow grass. Either they have sheep grazing on it, or they harvest it for hay or fermentation.

Chirke Castle and Garden have not really opened, but I get to sneak in on my membership-slip. It is a proper castle, build between 1295-1310. It have been attacked several times, and rebuild. In 1595, a private family father bought it for his family, of which some actually still lives here. Well, he pops bye from time to time, to have a look at his collection of old livestock. Another rich family rented it from 1911-1946 and modernised with pluming, electricity and new roof. Today, it look like it is in perfect condition.
The granite walls of the main building are overgrown by many species of climbing and flowering plants. In front is some huge conifers, cut into symmetric figures. Further down, a long lawn with wave shaped beds of flowering plants are found. The old falconry is partly overgrown with vines, which look great.
Despite the efforts on the garden started in the 1600's and later, it was altered considerable, it is not that great. Nice lawns, figure bushes, flowering plants and bushes, ponds, walls, statuettes, roses, a wilderness and a great view over a large valley, but it misses something. I think it is the height differences that is too small here, that does it - or rather doesn't do it.
The house opens, and the staffs dining room is fantastic. It was made in 1529, and in the 1700's, a lot of things from the great hall was ditched here. Everything is covered in a thick layer of smoke or sod, and it is so murky.
Next to it is Adam tower and dungeon from 1300. It is fitted with the few items the guards had in those days, and armoury from the civil war. Several stories of the tower have these functions, while the dungeon is almost barren. The tiny windows lead 5-6 meters through solid walls. Last time I saw a sight like this, was ventilation in a Egyptians pyramid.
The main building is fully furniture. The main hall with civil war weapons on the walls, and dark oak panels on all walls. The dining room more Victorian, as well as the new staircase from 1700. The music room holds a "piano", of which only four remains today. On the wall, two old large mirrors actually represent 1/4 of the entire estates value!
The walls are covered in drapings and 1500th paintings. Many of the draws are real old and special, like a Japanese 17th century shark-skin draw. The big hall is 30 metres long, all the walls in dark oak with carvings. One room is still, like it was left in 1946, where it was the family's living room. The library look fantastic, but I can't find the system. Just before the owner turned the castle over to the National Trust, he sold a lot of items on action. The NT bought 80 percent of the books, and a lot more. He still have use of a part of the castle, as he left quite a lot for the NT.
I pass the pathetic kitchen garden on my way out, but the white cast-iron gates are impressive.
The have been moved to the present location, as the owners wanted to show-off to the new railroad. Which eventually was dug ten meters down at the passing.
I finish with a pot of tea and a sandwich, and it have gotten way later than I thought, before I hit the road again.

I have seen quite some caravan sites - and been kicked out of them too, but I have not actually seen one of these mobile houses on the road. They all have these flimsy wheels, but now I meet one on a road. On a truck, sticking 60 centimetres out on each side. 3,70 meter vide, I would say, and they all are. It is like a permanent house - but not.
I haven't seen a castle the last half hour or so, and before I find Montgomery village, Powis and the Garden is next. Another 1300th castle, which still have the family living there. Where all the others have been grey, this is red, and not that huge. Nicely overgrown and in perfect conditions. The interior is real nice, with some fantastic ancient artefacts. But as the family still live here, they do not aloud photos within the house.
A part of the house is dedicated to a son, who lived in India for many years. He have brought back real gems of Indian craft and art, along with skins of animals.
The poolroom is more a natural museum. All walls are cupboards with stuffed birds, nicely sorted after type. And each cupboards with glass doors are stuffed! Her are actually a few, I haven't a clue to what genera or even family the belong to. I have a long talk with one of the NTs guards, and have to rush out to see the gardens. They are nice, but not big and glorious. A bit of the Victorian, and some romantic features.

It is a short drive to Montgomery, which should be "the prettiest town in Wales". Well, but not that pretty. And the sun is the wrong way for most anyway. I find a little cafe, and use the internet while I sip tea. The owner know of a campsite at a pub, and she call to see if the are open. Just ten minutes later, and I have a entire camp for my self, and for free! I tip the friendly bar maiden 150%
They do not serve food, but I found some earlier, and eat in the car. Then I head down to the pub's lounge and work, while I sip more tea.  As this is the last part of Wales I got to explore for now, there is a slideshow with the general Northern Wales. I have had a great time in Wales, and taken 2347 photos to show it. It helped, they had the best summer ever! I had feared I would freeze, but I have not used the duvet a single time. In a matter of fact, most mornings, I have started the day with no jacket.


8 days

Camping 61
Diesel 35
Food 102
Entree 29
Get there 0
DKK:  2343 Pound: 247

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