Travel Writing - Wales

A blinding light in my eyes woke me up one August Saturday morning - Travel Writing - Wales introduction. I rolled out of bed in a daze, and opened the curtains. Sunlight shone through like rays from heaven. As I staggered across the landing, I could hear my younger brother Simon attempting to get up. I got to the bathroom, and sunlight hit me once again. After a refreshing shower, I got dressed and made my way downstairs. In the living room, Simon was watching Saturday morning cartoons, still in his pyjamas. The smell of a cooked English breakfast wafted through the living room from the kitchen, and I was hungry!

I fell into an amchair and grabbed the atlas. Our route to Wales had been marked out, but like our past journeys, the route wouldn’t be followed exactly, and we would have to stop at some tourist attraction, or take a wrong turning. No doubt, someone in the car would find us somewhere to stop that wasn’t planned, but on the other hand, that’s how all journeys are supposed to go, right? The smell of sausages and bacon brought me back to reality, and I wandered to the kitchen where a feast was being prepared!

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On the table lay sausages, bacon, mushrooms, and fried bread. Minutes later we were gathered around the table, shovelling the food in. After the almighty feast, I made my way upstairs to pack, and began thinking of the journey ahead. A bump woke me up. We were turning right, into Poole’s Cavern. It was hot, and we were in need of refreshments. I decided to find out when the next tour was, whilst the treasure chest that was the coolbox was being opened. We’d missed the last tour by about ten minutes, and we would have to wait forty minutes for the next one.

We soon moved on, and ended up taking a wrong turn towards Horseshoe Pass, named this because of the horseshoe shape the road took around the hills. We stopped again to cool off, before moving on towards the hard to pronounce county of Clwyd. After more stopping, asking for directions, and sleeping, we arrived in Betws-y-Coed, only a few miles from our destination, Beddgelert. On arrival, we were unable to find the cottage we were supposed to be staying in, so we had to find the owner who resided in a public house on the main street.

After a brief chat with her, we obtained the keys, took directions and headed to the cottage. Upon arrival, we all collapsed inside and rested for a while after a long day. We searched for a place that could serve us food, but when we did find a pizza parlour, we found it was full, and so we indulged in food brought from home. After eating, we rested for a bit before calling it a day. I woke up early the next morning. It was a hot day, and we had planned to go to Sygun Copper Mine up the road. The queue was fairly long, but we decided to wait whilst watching a video in the visitors’ centre.

When our turn came, we put on our hard hats, and entered the copper mine. Inside, the mine was cool and damp. We were all instructed to stay to the walkways by the tour guide, and we were also warned not to touch any buttons on the walls. These buttons, when pressed, would apparently shut off the lights unless a certain combination of buttons was pressed at the beginning. These buttons were meant for people who wanted to navigate the mine themselves, and had to input the combination at the beginning. It all got too confusing, but I walked around with the rest of our group anyway.

After the mine tour, we pressed on towards Portmeirion, an Italianate Village that was used in the filming of the TV series “The Prisoner”. After a walk around the village, we went down to the beach not far from the village. The sea was clear, if not a little sandy. Below us, small flatfish swam around our feet. The tide was going out, so I allowed myself to float out a bit in the current. I had to swim back, however, before the tide took me too far out! Portmeirion closed its doors to incoming visitors at 5. 30pm, and it was 5. 45, so we decided to head back to the cottage.

We visited the pizza parlour for tea, before returning to the cottage and relaxing. The next day was spent walking around Betws-y-Coed, a large town not far from Beddgelert. Betws-y-Coed was not really any different from any other town or city in England, and consisted of shops, cafes, a bank, a post office and a Woolworths. We went in search of walking boots, but after walking up and down the streets several times, we decided we were hungry and stopped for some fried chicken. After eating, we wandered up to an outdoor centre incorporated into a hotel.

We bought some decent walking boots, and left, happy. We moved on to Ffestiniog, and bought supplies from the Co-op which seemed to be the only place open now. After dropping the supplies in the car, we wandered to the railway station, but found that the last train had left only five minutes ago. Upon finding this, we decided to make our way back to the cottage. A walk had been laid out for the third day, which took us from Beddgelert, around Snowdon, to a lake, and then around back to Beddgelert. We stopped at the grave of Gelert, and found out that in Welsh, Bedd means “grave”.

Therefore, the name of the village, Beddgelert, means “Gelert’s Grave”. According to legend, Gelert was a dog who belonged to Prince Llewellyn. Llewellyn’s son was attacked by a wolf, and Gelert battled the wolf to save the child. Gelert was found with blood on his mouth from the fight, and the prince thought that Gelert had attacked his son. Prince Llewellyn slayed his once trusted friend, and then saw the wolf. He realised that the wolf had attacked his son, and knew that he had killed his best friend for the wrong reason. The prince buried his dog, and the grave still stands today.

Returning to the main walk, we continued up the river Glaslyn. About halfway up the river, we came across some children playing in the water with their families. Continuing, we entered a long railway tunnel which was now disused. It was cold and dark inside. Coming out of the tunnel, we carried on upstream until we reached some old copper mines. I looked in some of the old mine entrances, but didn’t want to venture too far. Near the mines, we came across some old pylons which looked like they were used for cable cars. These were used to carry copper from the mines and down the hills to factories and workshops.

We carried on, and came out above Sygun Copper Mine. We walked down the hill above the mine, and stopped for refreshments. Pressing on a little further, we arrived back at the cottage, and collapsed for the night. The next day saw us rising early to go to Caernarfon Air Museum. Inside the museum, there were opportunities to sit inside the cockpits of old aircraft and even fly one or two in a computer simulator. Outside, we watched some aircraft take off and land, and learned that for i??20 each, we could all go up in a small aircraft.

After the visit, we moved southwest to Pwhelli. We walked along the beach, into the bay, and found lots of small seaside shops selling fish and chips, donuts and souveniers. After a swim, we moved on to Porthmadog, where we got Chinese takeaway. Back in Beddgelert, we took a walk around the town, and realised it was getting late. We wandered back to the cottage, and hit the sack after another tiring day. On our fifth day, we went to Anglesey Sea Zoo and Foal Animal Farm. On our way out of Beddgelert, we came across an outdoor centre which we hadn’t noticed before.

We also stopped at a mineral shop, where the owner accepted that some of his fossil stock had been poached from Wyoming in America. We also found out that he could get some skate fossils for i??5000! To get to Anglesey, we had to cross the Menai Bridge. After some travelling misdirection, we found Anglesey Sea Zoo. After stopping to chat to the fish, we moved on to Foal Farm, and took a tractor tour up some hills. There, we fed some Shire horses, one being 23 years old. We stayed until its closure at 5. 30pm, before travelling back to the mainland across the Menai.

We arrived at Conwy, and stopped on the pier. Like, Pwhelli, Conwy had some old seaside shops on its front. We found a fish and chip shop, and as we were all hungry, we bought fish and chips, and then went to the smallest house in the UK. Apparently, a 6′ 3″ fisherman lived there. As it was getting late again, we decided to pack up again for the day and take the shortest route back. This involved driving through a tunnel which had been cut out of the mountain. I went straight upstairs, took a relaxing bath, and then drifted off as another day ended.

On our sixth day in Wales, we went to Llechwedd Slate Caverns. We hopped on a small train which took us into the caverns, and learnt that over six thousand men had died in the caverns to date, from the collapsing caverns, falls down shafts and injuries sustained whilst working with the slate. We came to a large underground lake which was lit up and enhanced by coloured lights and music. Coming out of the caverns, we walked through a recreated Victorian village, where we met a man who made various objects from slate, including decorative plates and coasters.

After buying some slate souveniers, we took a quick look at the caverns on the other side of the road but didn’t go in. Returning to the cottage, we ate tea and packed up for the night. On our last day, we all decided to relax a bit before packing. I took a walk around Beddgelert. Some children were playing in the river. I ended up at a gift shop, and stopped to buy presents for friends and family, and also bought some chocolate fudge for myself. I walked back to the mineral shop and had a look around, before returning to our cottage to pack.

After loading everything into the car, we locked up and returned the keys to the owner. We drove off and made our way out of Beddgelert. We were soon heading out of Wales and towards Sheffield. I fell asleep, and awoke as we returned to Hedon. As we arrived home, we talked about the week in Wales, and looked through all the things we had brought back from Wales: leaflets, posters, books and gifts filled a couple of bags. I picked up the films from my camera, and decided to pop into Hedon tomorrow to get them developed. Before that, though, I decided that today, I’d go to bed and sleep.

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