United Kingdom
Rhosyr

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    • Day 20

      Always looking for an opportunity to improve on being ‘stingy at Stonehenge’, today definitely was our day.

      First of all was the excellent (free/ included) full breakfast at our 500 year old politically incorrectly named ‘Black Boy Inn’ accommodation.
      We then immediately headed off in the direction of Llanberis (20 mins) to catch our train to the top of Snowdonia - the highest point in Wales.

      The backpack was carefully loaded with provisions/ water / spare clothing / frozen lamb roast etc. as we knew this could be an epic climb of Himalaya proportions.
      The first job was to park and of course pay for that very privilege.
      There was a parking area right near the train station at £11 for the day, but by a quirk of GPS input error, we ended up at another parking area - fully 90 seconds further walking distance away - for just £6 for the day. Chalk up a win.

      Heading in to the ticket office, I got our two pre-paid tickets - and then a partial refund of the ticket prices! It turns out that the train can only go up to the 3/4 station of Clogwyn as there is still trackwork happening on the last section.
      “If you want to get to the summit, you will have to walk up the last section” I was told in a curious mix of Welsh and English. (Note: At this point I was congratulating myself on having almost mastered the Welsh language, as last night I downloaded and partially studied the free version of the ‘Welsh For Dummies’ App I had found online.)

      No problem, I thought - we are all set for a good summit-push today, having acclimatised accidentally over the last 2 days by somehow managing to book accomodation at ‘Black-Boy’ many floors above ground level with no lifts.

      The day was partially cloudy. From the train station, our summit target looked to be just above cloud base height up there in the jet-stream. Potentially challenging, but we were well prepared for what the mountain might throw at us.

      We began our ascent on the cheapest ride of the day (The early-bird 9am in the diesel powered train - later trains, or the steam powered train cost more. Yet another win.)
      We eventually arrived at the stratospheric heights of Clogwyn station where the air was noticeably thinner. Before we left for our summit attempt, I wanted to check with the train driver if we could come back on any train once we had descended back to Clogwyn.
      Our friendly train driver explained to me in Welsh that it would be fine for us to do exactly that - or so I thought.
      (My understanding of the free ‘Welsh for Dummies’ course led me to believe that when a Welshman shakes his head, he means ‘Yes’. Perhaps in hindsight I should have upgraded to the paid version of the App as it would seem that the ‘free’ version could have been misleading.)

      We loaded up the backpack, checked all our mountaineering equipment was in order and climbed up into the swirling mists that now enveloped us. Like a latter-day Mallory and Irvine, we made steady progress up the Western Cwm, then traversed across to the Hillary Step, the South Summit, picked our way along the last stretch of the summit ridge and then finally - we were on top. Was that Tibet we were now looking down into?

      In 1984 Greg Mortimer and Tim Macartney-Snape were the first Australians to summit Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen - now Loss and I had summited Snowdonia in a similar fashion. Amazing. I have sent details of our climb to the Guinness Book of Records and am awaiting their confirmation of our epic feat.

      Now the task was to make it back down to the safety of Clogwyn station and our promised ride back down the mountain from my Welsh speaking train driver. On arriving there, we saw a sign (in English) that clearly said you could only go back down on the same train you had gone up on - and unfortunately ours had left long ago.

      I approached the train driver - not my Welsh speaking friend - standing beside his shiny STEAM engine - and in very plain English he told me if we wanted to ride down the mountain on HIS train, it would cost us another £22 each as we had missed our preassigned train.
      Clearly my crash course in Welsh was not as thorough as it should have been, but being determined to make this one of my stingiest days yet, we shouldered our loads and down-climbed the 8km foot track to Llanberis far below.

      Next it was off to a FREE museum just up the road - the National Slate Museum. Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? Well, it was actually very interesting. Wales produces some of the world’s finest quality slate, with the best quality being turned into roofing shingles which currently sell for about £4.50 per shingle.

      Of particular interest was a demonstration on slate splitting and cutting. We got chatting to the craftsman after his demonstration and he told us an interesting story of how ‘Sydney saved his bacon’ when he used to work as a slate cutter in a commercial quarry.

      There had been a slump in demand for slate shingles in 1999. The bosses wanted them to keep producing, as they were on a very rich vein of high quality slate. The finished product was being stockpiled on a scale never seen before, and when after a few months of this the boss called all the workers in for a meeting, they thought they were going to lose their jobs.
      “Good news, lads” he said. “You’re not going to lose your jobs. We’ve just sold the entire stockpile last night. It seems that Sydney in Australia has just had a massive hailstorm and they need every last one of our slate roof shingles”.
      So, all those blue tarpaulins on roofs in the Eastern suburbs many of us remember gradually gave way to new, job-saving slate tiles from Wales.
      Every cloud has a silver lining.

      In addition to this, he gifted Loss the little coaster he had hand fashioned during the demonstration. This saved us buying one in the gift shop at a cost of £12 - how many wins can you have in one day?? At least one more, as it turns out.

      We decided that we would economise on dinner tonight and cook for ourselves in our kitchenette. We stopped at the grocery store on the way back to Caernarfon to purchase the ingredients, which came to the grand sum of £11. This was another significant saving, compared to last night where we had eaten at the restaurant across the road which advertised their ‘2 meals for £12’ special deal.

      Can a day of frugality get any better than that?
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    • Day 27

      Caernarfon Castle

      April 23, 2023 in Wales ⋅ ☁️ 52 °F

      Got another castle in! This one is larger than Conwy, but more touristy and is set up accordingly. Definitely worth going to, especially for all its neat history and expansiveness, but Cowny Castle is a more evocative ruin. Nice to be able to compare them, though. Each castle I've visited so far has had its own vibe, so that's been a lot of fun to be immersed in.Read more

    • Day 5

      2 Newborough Warren

      July 5, 2023 in Wales ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

      Heute habe ich die Wanderstiefel gegen Barfußschuhe eingetauscht und habe im Nordwesten des Nationalparks eine beinschonende Wald- und Strandwanderung gemacht 😀
      Auf der Tour lag die kleine Insel Yinis y Bendigaid - die Insel der Liebenden mit viel Geschichten aus dem Mittelalter und noch weit davor.
      Da die Flut die Insel vom Festland abschneidet, muss man auf Ebbe warten, um hinüber laufen zu können.
      Die halbe Stunde Wartezeit habe ich damit verbracht, meinen heute sehr gelungenen Porridge zu vernaschen ... yammy 😀 und bin dann durch das knietiefe Wasser rüber.
      Am Schluss der Tour bin ich ein wenig vom Weg abgekommen, so dass sich auf der Weide die Frage stellte: die Kuh oder ich ... ich bin dann über den Zaun geklettert, um wegzukommen ... 🤪 gut, dass das nicht auf einem Foto festgehalten wurde 😉
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    • Day 32

      Caernarfon

      September 6, 2023 in Wales ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

      Caernarfon is a royal town, community and port in Gwynedd, Wales. It has a population of 9,852 (with Caeathro). It lies along the A487 road, on the eastern shore of the Menai Strait, opposite the island of Anglesey. The city of Bangor is 8.6 miles (13.8 km) to the north-east, while Snowdonia (Eryri) fringes Caernarfon to the east and south-east.

      Caernarfon Castle is a medieval fortress in Gwynedd, north-west Wales. The first fortification on the site was a motte-and-bailey castle built in the late 11th century, which King Edward I of England began to replace with the current stone structure in 1283. The castle and town established by Edward acted as the administrative centre of north Wales, and as a result the defences were built on a grand scale.
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    • Day 7

      Ynys Llanddwyn

      May 24, 2022 in Wales ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

      Ursprünglich wollten wir nur eine kurze Runde durch die grünen Dünen des Newborough Warren drehen. Am Parkplatz wurde das Wetter dann richtig schön und sonnig, sodass wir doch irgendwie Lust auf me(e/h)r hatten und auf einer anderen Runde runter zum Strand gelaufen sind 😀. Dort ging es ein Stück am Meer entlang und dann auf die Insel Ynys Llanddwyn. Da die Insel nur ein paar Meter vor der Küste liegt, ist sie bei Ebbe in wenigen Schritten erreichbar. Mittlerweile war das Wetter so schön, dass wir uns tatsächlich noch um Sonnenschutz kümmern durften 🤣.
      Zum Auto zurück suchten wir uns später einen Weg durch den Nadelwald, der neben den Dünen wächst. Das hat sogar ziemlich gut geklappt. Nur einen einzigen Abzweig konnten wir nicht finden, weil er so zugewuchert war 🤣.
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    • Day 3

      Caernarfon

      April 13 in Wales ⋅ 🌬 54 °F

      Edward I also built a Caernarfon Castle at the western entrance to the Menai Strait. They say Wales has more castles per square mile than any other country. Cofis (people from Caernarfon) are proud that their city has been called the “Welshest town in Wales” because it had the most native Welsh speakers. This is really the first place I’ve been in Wales where the people talk to you first in Welsh and then switch to English when they see you do not understand. Kids were speaking Welsh to their parents and old ladies were swearing with the distinct guttural sounds of Welsh.Read more

    • Day 127

      True Love

      September 5, 2023 in Wales ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

      St Dwynwen was a Welsh princess who was forced to marry a man she did not love. She prayed to God for help, and he granted her wish by turning her husband into a block of ice.
      From there on she lived on that island as a nun, helping travellers to find true love.
      It is said that if you visit the island on St Dwynwen's Day (January 25th), you will find true love.
      For sure it's a magical place, especially seen with the eye of a camera.
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    • Day 128

      One of the Seven Wonders

      September 6, 2023 in Wales ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

      In 2012, Caernarfon Castle was named one of the Seven Wonders of Wales. The name Caernarfon means "Fortress in Arfon". Arfon is a historical Welsh administrative district along the Menai Strait.
      Caernarfon Castle is one of the largest and most impressive castles in Wales.
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    • Day 9

      Caernarfon Castle par le Parc Snowdonia

      August 6, 2023 in Wales ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

      Après un réveil brutal à 4h30 du matin en raison d'une alarme de feu dans notre maison de chambres à Cardiff, on prend un petit déjeuner et on traverse le Pays de Galles du sud au nord pour découvrir deux autres magnifiques châteaux. On prend bien sûr soin de choisir notre route pour profiter des vues du Parc Snowdonia. Premier arrêt... le château Caernarfon.Read more

    • Day 8

      Watch Out Wales

      October 23, 2018 in Wales ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

      After a lovely trip on the ferry we finally arrived in Holyhead. I headed straight for the maps and bus routes, and realized that to see the sites I wanted, especially with them being so spread out, it would be really difficult. Half my day was already gone because things seem to open late and close early in the more rural areas, and I thought I should probably just try and get to my hostel. What should I see upon exiting the ferry terminal, a car rental station. Normally I'd be fine just using public transportation, I'd say it's even easier in the cities, but I had to find out. So I asked. The only one left was small (no problem), and a manual (small problem). I haven't driven stick in years, and I don't think I've ever driven it well. So I lied and said it was perfect. No better time to relearn how to drive manual than when you're in another country and driving on the opposite side of what you consider normal. So I got the car, rented a navigation system too, and crossed my fingers things would go well; after all, everything has to be better than this morning. Roughly three attempts at reversing later I was headed to my first destination. I drove what seemed to only be about 30 miles to Caernarfon Castle. Turns out my real obstacle with the car is when I'm going slowly, because parking didn't exactly go smoothly. Then there was obstacle number two, I had forgotten that I needed Pounds in the UK, and not Euros. So after trying to withdraw money from and ATM, and realizing my bank must have thought my information was stolen (but I guess they're doing their job), I had to walk around hoping to find a money exchange so I could pay for parking so I wouldn't get a ticket. Yeah, having a car may not have been my brightest idea. Fortunately, the locals were very helpful pointing me in the right direction, and it was all figured out. I wasn't sure what to expect from this castle, especially because I didn't know anything about it. Before even heading inside there was a sign listing dates of the events that had happened there, and I couldn't wait to see everything. After passing through the entrance you end up in a huge courtyard, with tall walls surrounding you on every side feeling very much like a fortress. I decided I needed to climb a tower immediately. A decent hike up narrow stairs later, I finally made it, and I had also decided that everyone back then was super fit or just stayed on the ground floor. The view was amazing. After taking the photos I'm required to take, I decided to explore all the nooks and crannies I could find, many were dead ends, but most were the way to a new area... or more stairs. Two hours of climbing the castle later, I decided it was time to head on to my next destination. Easier said than done. I wish my problem was something easy, like finding the car, but no. I had returned to face my old foe, reversing. It did not go well, and the whole time I was cursing the very nice woman who let me rent the car in the first place, as well as the lovely looking family watching me struggle and stall the car roughly three dozen times (probably less, but it felt like a million). They were at least smart enough to avoid being hit. Leaving a parking lot has never been more difficult. Having managed to make it on the road without lost of limb or life, I was feeling slightly more confident. Well, it turns out addresses aren't quite as spot on as I thought they were, so be it. I pulled over, because I finally figured out how to slow down without stalling, and decided to just head to my hostel. Turns out the address I had for that wasn't quite where it was located. Fine, I decided why not make the best of the situation, that just means it's time to stop and eat. I can always figure it out once I'm full, and so far the locals have always been extremely helpful. I may have only seen one sight, but that's just the way this worked out. If I'm going to worry about anyone it's going to be the people of Wales while I have this car. Wish me (and them) luckRead more

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