What a glorious place Wales is, lovely sights of endless pastures, mountains and sprawling horizons.
I know “sprawling horizons” sounds a bit strange and maybe oxymoronic, but that’s what it feels like. You gaze out into the distance and the horizon is a patchwork of rolling hills and fields.
I can’t really show you the extent of it in a photograph because it’ll have to be a bloody big photograph to even begin to relay everything the human eye can see, so you’ll have to make do with a photograph of me.
Yep, that’ll do.
Now, let’s start from the beginning.
Last week, Piers and I went on a road trip to Wales and back. We drove a total of 720 miles (1159 km) in six days, and stopped at a different bed and breakfast each night.
Here, I’ve made a map to illustrate the geography of the region so that what I’m going to talk about next will make more sense to non-UK readers.
Piers and I live directly south of Wales, on the southwest coast of England, so we just drove north into Wales. But we kind of veered around outside of Wales before entering it near the northern part because of certain stops I wanted to make in England.
When we drove into Wales, I didn’t see any “Welcome to Wales” sign, either because I was daydreaming or because we went via a road that didn’t have it. I’m sure hundreds of roads lead to Wales so they can’t possibly have a welcome sign at every road, right?
I think we only knew we were in Wales when the road signs suddenly changed from English to Welsh.
In the middle of driving, Piers suddenly said, “We’re in Wales! Wow, Wales looks amazing!!”
I looked through all the windows and thought he was being stupid.
“It looks exactly like England, hon.” I said.
We bickered a bit on this point but I know he was just being silly. You will find many similarities between England and Wales in terms of physical appearance.
But the funny thing is that, after being in Wales for several days and loving the scenery, I thought I could feel a marked difference after crossing the Severn Bridge back into England.
England seems to be a darker green and maybe a bit more grey, overall, and there is a discernible lack of sheep.
But, to be fair, there are equally beautiful places in both England and Wales, just that Wales has more mountains so, when you’re driving through them, you get to see more fields and pastures around, which is probably why it seems more vibrantly green in Wales.
I will share more photos of the scenery in future posts. Today’s post will be a sort of a summary of the entire trip so you can have a preview of what’s coming up next.
So, we started our trip by spending our first night in Bath (England). I’ve blogged about Bath before so I’m not going to say anymore about it. (You can read the two posts here: Bath is beautiful despite mouldy hot springs | Rude shock in Bath)
Here’s a photo of some cute scarecrows next to our B&B in Bath. If I ever have my own biggish garden, I will place a couple of cute toddler scarecrows in it, no adult ones. I don’t know if that would be scary enough for crows, though.
From Bath, we drove on to Cynhynfa Country Guest House, situated on the England/Wales border. We went there because it’s owned by a Singaporean but I’ll talk about it more in another post.
Olive parked outside the guest house:
Before stopping there, we passed through Ludlow (in England) and I decided to stop to have a look at Ludlow Castle.
The view is quite lovely from the top of the castle walls, even though the castle isn’t that tall, really.
Because we stopped at Ludlow, we didn’t have time to stop at Shrewsbury as I had wanted to. Shrewsbury is where Charles Darwin came from so I thought it would be interesting to visit.
But it’s not a big deal. There are hundreds more places I want to visit in England and I still have the rest of my life to do it!
After an early breakfast, we drove into Wales and stopped at the famous bridge (Pont Fawr) and tea house (Tu Hwnt I’r Bont).
After that, because we’re way ahead of schedule, we had to find something to do before our next planned stop. We looked up Points of Interests on our sat nav and Gwydir Castle came up. It was only about 5 or 10 minutes away so off we went.
When we got there, we found out that it is more a large Tudor manor house than a castle and that they close on Mondays and Saturdays (which is the day we were there), so we didn’t get to visit!
At that time, I had completely forgotten that it was the castle I had mentioned in an earlier post, where I had found out we could stay but chose not to because it’s haunted.
I only realised it was the same castle after coming home and googling it.
What a shame it was closed. All we saw were walls and closed doors.
But we did see a bunch of peacocks and peahens roosting on top of the walls so we managed to while away some time, me taking photographs and Piers trying to attract their attention by imitating their call, which is a high pitched, long squawl. A bit like a seagull but longer and more melodic.
Yes, just imagine Piers squawling like a peacock. He loves doing that sort of thing, poor me.
That night, we stayed in a lovely B&B called Fir Cottage and went for a walk up a mountain next to the cottage, where we encountered a couple of runaway sheep, all of which I will elaborate in a separate post.
Up until then, we had been pretty lucky with the weather. It was moody, sometimes a bit sunny, sometimes a bit overcast, with some drizzling here and there, but on the whole it didn’t rain on our parade too much.
But it did the next day.
Our first order of the day was to visit the Welsh Mountain Zoo. It was a terrible, terrible mistake. It rained intermittently, the wind was ridiculously strong up on the mountain, it felt nearly as cold as winter, and the zoo was rubbish at being a zoo.
So we left the silly place some two hours earlier than planned. We then drove on through the town with the longest name in the world: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. It looks impossible to pronounce but I will show you how to in a future post.
It was still raining and we had to carry umbrellas with us around all day, so we didn’t linger in the town.
Here’s Olive parked next to the railway station gatehouse with the full name of the town mounted on it.
Yes, you know the drill now: Details of all that will come in a later post.
We drove on to Caernarfon on the same day. Still raining, still cold, which was a pity because Caernarfon is a very cool town with a bustling town centre built inside the outer castle walls. And right in the middle of it all is Caernarfon Castle.
The rain and cold made us just want to go indoors and snuggle under the duvet, so that was quite the shame.
We stayed in a B&B inside these walls:
It was time to head back south and, this time, instead of driving through motorways we drove through mountain passes, which was a great idea.
The weather had tamed considerably so it was a wonderful three-hour drive to get to our next destination, with many stops along the way to admire the scenery, gawk at sheep and take photographs.
The only damper on our day was our failure to locate a famous waterfall in Brecon Beacons National Park, thanks to lousy mapping, unclear instructions and lack of signposts on the part of the tourism authorities.
It resulted in a two-hour trek (back and forth) through the most ridiculous, scary terrain, with nothing to show for it except muddy shoes and possibly an entertaining blog post to come.
We found refuge for the night in a nice B&B called Llundain Fach Little London, which has a nice cascading stream a very short trek away through a wooded area.
Last day of our trip and the sun decided it was time to come out and play. My new £5 sunglasses came in use for the first time since we started the trip.
It was a great last day.
We saw a waterfall (this one was much easier to get to and had clear directions but it was smaller), then decided to leave for home earlier than planned.
I had wanted to visit the National Showcaves Centre for Wales (Dan yr Ogof), which is an 11 mile (17 km) long cave system in south Wales featuring lots of cool cavern sights and a dinosaur park, among other things.
If you google image it, you can see loads of cool pictures of it. But Piers and I were both so tired out by our whole trip that we decided to give it a miss.
We had received mixed reviews of it from our B&B host; some adults said it’s a waste of money and only cool for children, while other adults loved it. So I don’t know! Maybe we will visit it one day. It’s only about four hours’ drive from home, lol.
On our way home, we stopped at a burger bar on a mountain for lunch and trekked a short way higher up to enjoy the 360-degree view.
It was a bit sad leaving that mountain. Despite my tiredness, I felt like I could have stayed a few more days, or weeks.
After that, we spent the next three hours on the road for the last leg home, during which time I mostly slept while Piers drove, which is the natural order of things!
And that’s the end of this post. Like it or comment if you want to hear more stories and see more photos of our adventure!