Portmeirion, Gwynedd, North Wales

I’ve mentioned a few times that our house looks over an estuary towards the tourist village of Portmeirion. (See banner picture at the top of the website – which now includes a winter view taken this morning). I went there many years ago, but have not been since arriving back in the UK. That is until last weekend, when they were hosting a Food and Craft Fair. Entry to the village was a tad cheaper than normal, so I thought I’d take advantage and have a look around (not to mention taking a few photos to post of course! 😊).

Portmeirion was the brainchild of Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis. He was an architect and he essentially designed the whole village, often using bits and pieces from other dilapidated or demolished buildings. The land was acquired in 1925 and the village was pegged out and the most distinctive buildings erected between then and 1939. Between 1954 and 1976 he filled in the details.

Though, I have to say that it’s not all about the buildings, as the grounds, “The Gwyllt”, are also a delight, with woodland trails set out for visitors, both young and old, to enjoy. Many of the trees and shrubs originate from all around the world. (See pics 23-27).

The village is recognised worldwide as the setting for the cult 70’s TV series The Prisoner. The Round House, where No. 6 lived, is now a shop selling memorabilia.

As you will see, it wasn’t the brightest of days for photography but, given the huge number of visitors that day, I’m amazed that the images are almost people free.

Jervaulx Abbey and Kilgram Bridge from Middleham, North Yorkshire

Jude and I have just been on a week long break in a town called Middleham in North Yorkshire, which is mostly known for training race horses. Although we did wander up the road in the morning mist to watch a few thoroughbreds heading off towards the gallops, that wasn’t the main reason for our stay. It was simply to get away and have a change of scenery.

The weather wasn’t kind but on the one day that we were due to have our online Welsh lesson, the forecast was good! So off I wandered along a 10.5 mile route to Kilgram Bridge which, after 450 years, is reputed to be Yorkshire’s oldest road bridge (see pic 18) as well as the Cistercian Abbey at Jervaulx, which was established in 1156. Not only that, but it took in Wensleydale’s oldest church, St Oswald’s at Thornton Steward (see pics 22-25) and Danby Hall, an Elizabethan manor house (pic 27). Also, by rather strange coincidence, it went by St Simon’s and St Jude‘s church at Ulshaw (pics 28 & 29).

But even more interesting to me was the door handle of the pub at Cover Bridge. See pic 32. The handle itself was fixed solidly to the door and there were no knobs to turn or ‘snecks’ (as we call them in Yorkshire, i.e. catches) to lift up. So how does one enter the establishment? Suggestions in the Comments please… I’ll reveal how it’s done in due course… (I love a good puzzle!)

Walk from Barmouth to Llanbedr along part of the Cambrian Way, N. Wales

While most people in the UK were watching the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, I decided to go out for a walk. It’s not that I wasn’t interested or sad at her passing (she was a wonderful woman), it’s just that I felt I had better things to do than sit in front of a TV screen for 6 or more hours. And as it turned out, I saw the final procession up the Long Walk (perhaps the most poignant bit) in the pub at Llanbedr.

As you will see the weather wasn’t great for photography, but it was what it was…

I should add that I paused at 11am at Bwlch y Rhiwgyr, (see pic 14), to show my respect, with a 2 minute silence. And it was a very peaceful moment, apart from the hum of a light aircraft overhead.

Gwaith Powdwr Nature Reserve, Penrhyndeudraeth, North Wales

Just a few miles up the road from our house is a Nature Reserve with a very interesting history. Gwaith Powdwr translates, literally, as Powder Works as, in 1865 the site first opened as an explosives factory – primarily to serve the local mining industry.

However, in 1995 the factory was closed and, after decommissioning the plant, in 1998 the land was donated to the North Wales Wildlife Trust and turned into a Nature Reserve. Wandering around the area today, there is only a little evidence of its past and it has become a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as well as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Within the 24 hectares (or one tenth of a square mile or a quarter of a square kilometre), there’s a (very) small reservoir and I’d heard that there were dragonflies to be found, so off I went… Sadly the dragonflies flew around and around defending their territories and simply refused to land, but I did capture one damselfly (not sure if it’s a Common or Azure Bluet or, indeed, something else) and a Common Spreadwing (which is a first for me and this site! 😊)

No doubt I will return later in the summer to try my luck again.

Ynys Llanddwyn,Ynys MΓ΄n, Cymru (aka Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey, Wales)

One thing you notice when you come to Wales is that all the road and most shop signs are written in both Welsh and English. So it only seems right that I should do my best to follow suit here. (Though why I didn’t write many of my other post titles in French or German or Italian I’m not sure… Perhaps I did sometimes. πŸ€”)

Anyhow, it was only last week that I realised I’d not posted these pictures of our trip to the aforementioned Ynys Llanddwyn (island), which lies off the southern edge of Anglesey. It’s not really an island so much as an isthmus which is cut off at high tide.

So the following gallery harks back to 23rd March 2022, when Jude and I went for a drive around to one of our favourite places. And, my apologies for yet more beaches, but I shall be returning to the mountains very soon I’m sure…

Some (approximate) pronunciation notes:

  • The letter ‘w’ in Welsh is frequently pronounced ‘oo’ as in ‘look’ (more or less like a double u sound), but at other times like a ‘w’ as in water.
  • A double d, ‘dd’, is pronounced ‘th’ as in ‘the’.
  • A ‘u’ is pronounced like an ‘i’, sometimes short, like ‘tin’ and sometimes long, as in ‘been’.
  • The ‘y’ is perhaps the most confusing, (to non-Welsh speakers that is), as it is sometimes pronounced like ‘uh’ as in ‘cut’, but at other times like an ‘i’ as in ‘bin’ and others like ‘ee’ as in ‘been’.
  • There is no English equivalent to the double L. ‘Ll’, is best described by putting your tongue to the top of your mouth and blowing out!

Hence Cymru = Cumree, Ynys = Unis, Llanddwyn = Llan-th-oo-in. (Hope this helps!)

Wales Coast Path Walk, Ynys to Criccieth

Every since I walked south along the Wales Coast Path from our house, I’ve been itching to do the same, heading north. So, on Thursday, despite strong overnight winds, which promised to continue all morning and grey skies, I set off. As you will see from the gallery, the weather was changeable to say the least. I had everything from bright sunshine to hailstones, with typical April showers in between, but it was very enjoyable nonetheless.

I wasn’t expecting to take so many photos, given the overcast skies, but I think you’ll agree there was plenty of variety along the walk. For example, I was just bemoaning to myself, how dull the middle ‘road’ section was, through the villages of Penrhyndeudraeth and Minffordd when, firstly, a Ffestiniog Railway steam train came along and stopped in Minfordd station and then I was treated to an impromptu “One Man and His Dog” performance as a farmer sent his dog off to round up some stray lambs and sheep.

Snowdon Walk, Snowdonia National Park, North Wales

The sun has continued to shine here in North Wales and, indeed, across the rest of the UK I believe. So yesterday it was the perfect day to take on Wales’ highest peak at 1,085m or 3,560ft. I decided to do it via the Watkin Path, so called because it was created by Sir Edward Watkin and was Britain’s first designated footpath. It was opened by the then Prime Minister, William Gladstone, in 1892 and there is a plaque on a large rock to commemorate the occasion. (See pic 8).

Snowdon (or Yr Wyddfa in Welsh) is reputed to be Britain’s most walked mountain and you can see why when, on a fine day like yesterday, the hoards ascend (some via the train to the top) and queue very politely to capture that all important summit photo. I’ve been to the very top before, on a much quieter day thankfully, so I was content to take pictures from just below the summit cairn.

To make the walk into a loop, I descended via the South Ridge or Bwlch Main, which I thought would be quite precipitous, but in the event was just a bit rocky underfoot. The path eventually turned to the left to meet up again with the Watkin Path, just below Gladstone’s rock and just above the Waterfalls, where many people were having picnics or taking advantage of the “fairy pools” below.

Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach Walk, Gwynedd, North Wales

Although we’ve experienced some gale force winds this weekend, the skies have been perfectly blue. So my new golfing buddy, Ian, and I decided to do a walk rather than attempt to whack an all too small round object into an only slightly larger hole. πŸŒοΈβ€β™‚οΈ

The choice of walk was quite easy, for me anyway, as I stare at these “Moelwyns” every day – when it’s not raining of course. (You can see them to the far right of my banner picture). And what a treat we had…

Setting off from the small village of Croesor, the track gradually ascends to some disused slate quarry buildings and then turns sharply upwards to the back of Moelwyn Mawr (mawr meaning big) at 770m or 2,526ft. The 360 degree views were so impressive that I decided to take a video, which I’ve added after the usual photo gallery below, (though I’ve muted the sound as the noise of the wind was almost deafening!)

From there we dropped down and across Craigysgafn to the path, visible in pic 18, to the left, and then up to the top, of Moelwyn Bach (bach meaning small) at 710m or 2,329ft. It was then a case of retracing our steps to Bwlch Stwlan (bwlch meaning col or pass) and descending back to Croesor along Pant Mawr (meaning Big Hollow).

I hope you enjoy this walk as much as we did. 😊

Walk from Boulmer to Low Newton-by-the-Sea and back, Northumberland, England

While we were staying in Alnwick, Jude went off for the day to see her best friend Kate in Edinburgh. I therefore took the opportunity to do a long(ish) walk (of about 14 miles or 22.5 km) from Boulmer. OK, I admit it, my main motivation was to stop for a beer at the Ship Inn in Low Newton-by-the-Sea. πŸ˜‹

As you will see from the gallery below, the weather was breezy, but quite kind until I set off for the return journey, when the winds dropped and the rain took over. I got so wet, my mobile phone screen decided to pack up and, despite my best efforts to revive it (by leaving it in a bag of dried rice for a week), it still doesn’t work.

Over the past few weeks, Jude and I have been in the habit of collecting bits of sea glass and washed up pottery from all the various beaches that we have visited. I therefore couldn’t stop myself picking up the handful in picture 2, which were all found in the small area seen just below my hand. Another load was safely put to one side until I returned, when I managed to completely fill my sandwich bag.

The route also took in Dunstanburgh Castle and Embleton beach which I’ve previously posted here. My apologies for the duplication, but I don’t think you can ever have too much of a good thing!