Climbing, swimming, riding, rocking and rambling

We’ve managed to squeeze some rambling in between loads of fun family time this week so thought I’d write it all into the blog.

Sunday 14th November 2021

Started the day with a splash around in the sea, as you do on chilly November mornings. Were well and truly rewarded with an amazing display of dolphins playing in front of us … as always, hard to catch on camera!

Talyllyn Railway’s steam engine was our mode of transport for the afternoon taking us on a joyful ride from our town of Tywyn, which sits on the edge of Snowdonia National Park through to Nant Gwernol, buried deep in the mountains of Abergynolwyn … as you can imagine the views were spectacular. The carriages were a little bijou so we were squeezed and cosy. When Steve had booked the ticket he had ordered a little treat of Prosecco to sup along the way. This delighted one of the guards who took to referring to us as “the alcoholics carriage” at every opportunity… and with a little chuckle asked us if we were going to the pub when we got off!!

Monday 15th November 2021

We were all up early this morning to set off on the drive to Mount Snowdon for a little amble up that legend. Weatherwise it wasn’t the best of days – low cloud and drizzle – but it didn’t deter us, we were on a mission! I had climbed Snowdon many many years ago but had forgotten just how steep it was (and we had chosen the easier route). It was fabulously scenic though despite walking in mist and cloud.

I have to confess that the final path was a ‘steep” too far for me …. it wasn’t the going up so much but the thought of coming down (I had no walking poles) in this slippery weather. I have slipped down many a coastal path and just didn’t fancy the risk. So the others trooped on up to the top and I enjoyed a slow and peaceful trek back down. And the very best thing of all was that at the base of the mountain I stumbled upon the most wonderful tea room where I was greeted by an elderly chap with such warmth … we chatted and chatted as I was the only customer and he brought me hot tea in elegant china and a plate of the most deliciously buttered bara brith. All of this in front of a roaring fire – it was like stumbling upon an oasis in the desert, I was in heaven.

But hats off to Steve, Tom, Jess, Alice and Jon who persevered to the top … sadly finding themselves shrouded in cloud so no amazing views …. but a great sense of achievement.

Tuesday 16th November 2021

So today was my birthday … and I was spoilt from the off. Cards, presents, birthday banners and a bagles/cream cheese/bacon and bucks fizz breakfast. Alice and I braved a little paddle before we headed off to Aberdovey for lunch and after a little art gallery mooch we enjoyed a first class pub lunch … more wine! Then it was home for board games, champagne and tons of giggles. Finished the day off with a takeaway Chinese meal (Tywyn seems to close down on Mondays and Tuesdays – no restaurants open) … photo session on the balcony at sunset, more fun and games – Steve and I retired to bed exhausted about 10pm while the younger ones carried on till the wee hours.

Brother and sisterly love

Jon missed out on the daytime festivities as he had to drive back to Manchester for a check up on his broken little finger – they were concerned that it wasn’t setting straight, and they were right. This resulted in an early appointment on Thursday morning for a break and reset …. and much bigger bandage!

Crooked finger!
The aftermath … finger clinically broken and reset!!

Wednesday 17th November 2021

Today was our last full day in Wales and the sun was shining, it felt warm. The night before after several beverages had been consumed, Tom, Jess, Alice and Jon had set themselves the challenge to fully swim in the sea the next morning. So, true to their word, they hit the waves … and I went along for the ride too. It was FREEZING but so so exhilarating – I can recommend.

Finally the ramble itself. Feeling mighty alive after a swim and hot tub, Steve and I set off on another one of those coastal rambles. There was a bit of a bus muddle resulting in a lot of grumbling and a phone call to Tom to come and drive us to the start of our walk in Llwyngwrll.

Not far from the off we were climbing … and climbing Snowdon style! And the first half of the walk continued in this style – up up up and down down down. But my goodness the views were absolutely spectacular- it was worth every ounce of exertion. And we faced it all – muddy terrain, puddles, overhanging brambles, ladder-like styles and those precarious stepping stones – but all in all it was a splendid walk. We sat on a rock amongst the hundreds of sheep to eat our picnic lunch and just soak up the magnificent sight of the Welsh hills and attractive coastline.

They seem to love a green caravan in Wales!!

Another 9 miles done and dusted …. and throughly enjoyed.

Last night dinner at “The Proper Gander” restaurant in Tywyn – fabulous meal

So, this week I have turned 63 … I have walked 32 miles of coastline, I got a PB at Parkrun, I climbed Mount Snowdon, I partied hard with the kids, I had a November swim in the sea … and I have pink hair. We have the best family every and we’re loving life.

From reverence to revelry

Thursday 11th November 2021

At the cenotaph in Caernarfon … at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month …

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

After checking out of our airbnb and before leaving Caernarfon, we took the opportunity to pay our respects at the Caernarfon Square War Memorial. An inspiring local attendance and proud ex-military presence – we felt privileged and humble to stand amongst them.

We also spent a couple of hours visiting and soaking up the history of Caernarfon Castle – I was convinced that we’d been there before but I obviously had got my Welsh castles mixed up … I had to admit that on this occasion Steve was right!! So really found the walk around the castle walls, the museum exhibits and the film shows interesting. (You were right Corinna – it’s well worth a visit).

Then we set off on the drive to our next airbnb in Tywyn. A stunning drive along winding roads bordered in the most stunning of autumnal nature. And so to our house on the beach, our arrival coinciding with a spectacular sunset.

We arrived first, followed by Tom and Jess, and then Alice and Jon shortly after – SO wonderful to all be together. And the inevitable first night of the holiday party ensued.

First night of the holiday bubbles …

Friday 12th November 2021

We all woke up still full of holiday excitement and what else do you do in November at the seaside … you head for those waves!!! Well, Tom did it big style with a proper swim while the rest of us splashed around in the shallows getting frozen feet and whinging. Great fun though.

Quickly headed back to the house for some hut tub time.

And we spent a lot of the afternoon wandering around the pretty town of Tywyn with its interesting craft shops, churches, hillside views and Magic Lantern cinema. Tried out a local coffee shop and the pub in all in one outing.

The Magic Lantern Cinema in Tywyn

Saturday 13th November 2021

It’s Saturday, it’s 9 o’clock …. so guess where we are? The parkrun of course … and this time it was in Dolgellau.

And the afternoon carried on in energetic form as we all set off on some coastal path walking. This time we caught the local bus to Aberdovey and walked the 6 mile stretch back to Tywyn. It was ironic having Alice with us on this section because, when we did our two month walk of the South West Coastal Path some 4 years ago, Alice had this image of us strolling along golden sands each day! For those of you who have walked the coast of Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, you know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. But today the walk involved just that – walking most of it along golden sands. A little tough at times for Tom and Jon who were struggling with sore calf muscles after the morning’s Parkrun!

Leaving Aberdovey in drizzle
Some stunning coastal views walking from Aberdovey to Tywyn

Back in Tywyn, we called into the local for a swift half before heading home for a hot tub session while Tom and Jess cooked dinner. And it just turned into one of those evenings of fun and games, drinking, eating and laughing lots. The ‘elderly’ amongst us retired at a sensible hour while the girls had their party heads on till 4 in the morning – oh, I remember those days!!

It’s been great so far ….

The road to Trefor

Wednesday 10th November 2021

Today we got the 91 bus to Dinas Dinlle again, the same friendly driver as yesterday and the same hazardous narrow country lanes. But not so bleak today … not exactly sunny but bright, no wind and no rain … that’s a winner in our books. There was a big hill at the start but fortunately the OS app directed us to walk along the road – we certainly weren’t going to argue. This did take us away from the beach but as there was a distinct lack of coastal path signs we relied on the app to steer us in the right direction.

The hill that we didn’t have to climb!!

It turned out to be a whole route of road walking today, some quieter roads but to be honest the bulk of the 9 miles was along a main A road with vehicles whipping by us at 70mph – there was pavement though so grateful for that. The distant hills were scenic and initially shrouded in low cloud.

Passed through a number of pretty villages with grey slate cottages – great sense of Welsh community, all cocooned in the surrounding hills.

A dip in the well followed by a night on the cold church floor is said to cure epilepsy!
Translates to “the end of an era came but no memory”

The last mile took us away from the busier roads and down into the village of Trefor, our planned destination for the day. We tucked into sandwiches as we waited for the number 12 bus to take us back to Canaerfon. 9 more miles in the bag.

A few funny incidents today:

  1. Whilst waiting at the bus stop a young lad beside us lifted up his arms to smell his armpits, then proceeded to pull out some deodorant from his bag, lift his shirt and give himself a good old spray both sides. That was a first!
  2. Whilst on the bus this morning, we passed through a village where I spotted an elderly lady waving from an upstairs window. I waved back and smiled. It’s been playing on my mind all day though as to whether she was OK – I really hope she wasn’t waving for help!
  3. A female walker, much to Steve’s amusement, waved to the sheep as she passed them – ah, that was me! It’s just that they always stop and look at you when you’re near … so it would be rude not to!

A day off walking tomorrow. We’re going to visit Canaerfon castle and then head south to meet up with Tom, Jess, Alice and Jon for the week in the seaside town of Tywyn … I am beyond excited. Bring on some family time, fun, games, hot tub and lashings of prosecco!!

Enter the dragon … we’ve arrived in North Wales

Yesterday we made the four hour journey to North Wales and were greeted by these spectacular skies … it really felt like entering the mouth of the dragon! The drive was straightforward but as usual my passenger anxiety was bonkers – Steve calmly tolerates my gripping, squealing and jumping but it’s getting ridiculous – so wish I could find a cure (answers on a postcard please)!! We GPS’d our way to our Airbnb accommodation in Caernarfon and it all worked … managed to park outside, key safe worked, key worked and it was toastily welcoming inside. Hurrah!! We have ourselves a stylishly converted basement flat in a large elegant Victorian terrace property on a hill, for three nights.

After a quick turn around we headed into town for some sustenance. We found ourselves an establishment called ‘The Black Boy’ – a famous and recommended old pub in the town, thought to date back to 1522. There are a few suggestions for the name including King Charles II’s nickname, chimney sweeps, black bouy in the harbour … hopefully nothing racist. It turned into a jolly first night situation as Steve got stuck into some local real ale and we enjoyed some delicious food and red wine. It was fabulous to hear so many customers and staff speaking in the Welsh language and, as we mellowed in the warmth of the log burner, it really felt we were abroad on our holidays.

Tuesday 9th November 2021

We were up early birds this morning to set off on the first leg of this bout of coastal walking. We found the local bus stop and caught the bus to Dinas Dinlle (I know!!!!?) An interesting ride along the narrowest of country lanes – facing numerous stand offs and resentful reversing! Little did we know that later we would be walking along part of this road as well – lots of squeezing into hedges.

Said Dinas Dinlle was a little bleak – a pebbly beach frontage but not a shop, cafe or pub in sight … or person come to that!! Not helped by the fact that it was a foul weather day – low cloud, misty, driving fine rain, windy – you know those days. But we were layered up and ready for a stroll along the Weslsh coastline.

Luckily this was facing the other way … it’s the start of tomorrow’s walk.

The walk to Caernarfon started off with beachside paths but soon diverted inland due to military land and marshland. This meant a long stretch of sea defence walking with the driving rain on our backs, we were soaked. After this there was a mix of more sheltered country lanes and as I mentioned before some road walking … dodging the traffic.

The signage was pretty good on the whole but I have to say there was definitely at least two points where lack of signs could have caused havoc, had it not been for our trusty Ordnance Survey App. However, that provided the opportunity for us to have a good old grumble.

The last few miles saw us back beside the sea so we could enjoy those fabulous seaweed smells and the sound of waves lapping – always a happy place for me.

There’s always one!!!!

And so we strolled back into Caernarfon – the famous castle domineering in the distance – windlashed and dripping … but energised and pleased to tick off another 8 and a half miles of the UK coastline walking. Steve managed to slip the camera into fancy mode by mistake!

Dodged into a cafe for some lunch and warmth … or as they say in Welsh … “caffi.”

Feels great to be back blogging, it’s been a while. Loving Wales – haven’t seen any dragons yet but PLENTY of sheep.

Hwyl fawr. Yaki Da (or in correct Welsh “iechyd da.”