A Welsh Christmas Adventure

Greetings fellow Adventurers!

Join me for a quick flashback to the Christmas holidays just gone, when we took the Ratmobile on a Welsh mountain adventure.

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Ratty on the way up to the Pen-y–Pass, Snowdonia 

As some of you may already know, my wife Alli intends to follow in the footsteps of King Edward I later this year, by walking his invasion route along the north coast of Wales from Chester to Harlech – she has a post about it here.

That being the case, we decided to take a trip up there for a few days to explore, get an idea of the lie of the land (to help with the route planning) and to just get away from it all for a few days after the madness of Christmas.

Location: Wales – the northern bit between the sea and the sticky-uppy bits.
Total distance traveled: lots & lots
Total time at the wheel: Many hours (but not as much as you’d think)
Packets of square crisps eaten: Too many to count!

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Chester’s Christmas Tree, just outside the information centre

So on a misty morning, with the Ratmobile crammed to the gunnels, we headed northwest past Birmingham and the Black Country, through Shropshire and up to the lovely old city of Chester.

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Inside Chester Cathedral
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Another shot of the insides, showing one of the many Christmas trees on display

We didn’t have too long to spend in Chester, as we had another long(ish) drive on to our hotel. But whilst we were there we had just enough time to wander around the famous ‘Rows’ (built in the 13th century – these are elevated walkways around the buildings  good for shopping) and a visit to the stunning Chester Cathedral – which just happened to have a beautiful Christmas tree festival going on.

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The Cathedral’s Massive Organ… (stop sniggering at the back)

After Chester we headed off along the north coast of Wales, trying to follow Alli’s upcoming route as best we could. We had some lovely views of the coast and the countryside as day turned into evening and then into night. Reaching Caernarfon well after dark we had a well deserved glass of wine, had a some dinner and headed to our room at the Premier Inn, where our son Nathan showed us how to plump our pillows professionally – and very nice they were too as we fell asleep.

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Shopping in Caernarfon – there used to be a great sandwich shop down this street

We spent the morning in mooching around the town and Caernarfon castle. Built by Edward I in the 1280’s as part of his Iron ring around Wales, this is a massively impressive and imposing building. It’s more than worthy of a blog post in it’s own right and I’m sure Alli will do one as part of her walk – so I’ll leave it to her. But if you get the chance, you should go there.

 

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The south(ish) end of the castle from the Eagle tower
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The northern edge of the town wall, with the Menai Strait and the island of Anglesey in the background
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One of the town’s harbours 
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The southern end of the castle. The big stone dais in the middle of the photo is where Charles was made Price of Wales. This is a tradition that was started by Edward I with his son Edward (II) as part of his plan to subdue the Welsh. Since then every first born son of the Monarch has been made Price of Wales.
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Exploring the tunnels inside the walls…
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Some of the locals were very friendly – especially if you happen to be eating biscuits
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Looking back towards the hotel from the town’s other harbour

In the afternoon we took a drive through Llanberis and up and over the Pen y pas in Snowdonia to enjoy some views of the stunning mountains.

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Dolbadarn Castle – home of the last Welsh Price of Wales, from the lake in Llanberis
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A view back down the road to Llanberis
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Stopping at a wonderful viewpoint, we had fantastic views of the mountains and the surrounding valleys – this is the view towards Llyn Gwynant
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The mountains around mt. Snowdon

As the day drew to a close and the landscape turned dark we drove down into the beautiful village of Beddgelert for a warming cup of tea. After which it was back to hotel for dinner (a salad bowl each from Morrison’s – yummy!), some more wine and sleep.

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Yep…
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Beddgelert at night

Day three saw us packing up Ratty and heading over to a favourite of ours, Bondnant gardens near Conwy. Run by the National Trust the gardens are absolutely stunning. A mix of gardens, woods and various types of habitat, all crammed into a beautiful river valley. It is the most stunning ‘wild’ garden we’ve been too – take a look at the website!

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A view of the main river that flows up the centre of Bodnant Gardens. There are many paths to explore and bridges to wander over
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A view down into the valley. Not all of the paths are along the ground, a lot of them are cut into the sides of slopes each side of the river. The views are stunning

After the gardens and a quick visit to the visitor centre – it was time to head back southeast to home and some well deserved rest – oh and probably more wine!

Farewell my Friends!

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As the sun sets over the hills of north Wales – the Templetons head for home…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36 thoughts on “A Welsh Christmas Adventure”

  1. I’d love to attempt to play a tune on that huge organ! A very nice display of Christmas trees there – that’s a cool tradition. I could go for some pro-caffeinating myself! Haha. Have a great weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tyson! lol! Yes it is rather large! The Christmas tree thing was really good – the church had dozens of them all over the place – I assume some given by local schools and charities etc.
      It’s 7am here – I REALLY need some pro-caffeinating myself! You have a great weekend too.

      Like

  2. Another interesting and humorous post Stuart.I enjoy reading your blogs because they make me smile . A nice prelude to Alli’s adventures to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Malcolm! I’m really glad you liked it – I always try and inject a bit of humor into these things – and is also why I like your blog as well.
      Have a good weekend – hopefully with some exploring included!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It was a wonderful break, and I’m looking forward to spending a LOT more time there in a couple of months. Mind you, I doubt we could get photos as atmospheric as these in July. You got some great shots – well done! We’ll have to do something similar next Christmas… I wonder which walk I should do next? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – I’m glad you liked the photo’s and the memories. It was a really lovely break and I agree – we need to do something similar next Christmas (maybe for three nights?). I’m thinking Northumberland and Saxon walk you want to do up there 😀

      Like

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