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Our Travel Adventures

Welcome to the Adventures of Larry and Connie Farquhar.

Week 4 - 2023 "Lands" Epic Adventure

Wales, United Kingdom
Week 4 Travel Route

St. Davids, Wales

Do you speak Welsh?

September 1, 2023 - We made camping bookings (reservations) months ago for most of this trip. Normally, I'm not a fan of having a firm reservation, since it forces us to a set schedule and destination. We normally like to "wing it" and stay as long, or as short as we want, and to change locations if we see somewhere else to visit. But on this trip, we decided to play it safe and have bookings for most of our nights. Since we have an aggressive traveling schedule, we're staying in most places one night and about 1/3 of the locations for 2 nights. But many locations aren't that far apart, giving us plenty of time to see the sights along the way.

Staying near the beach in St. Davids was one of the locations we didn't have a booking. Most likely, some of the places we thought about staying at, didn't accept them. Well, that didn't work out perfectly for us. We had heard of a campsite near St. Davids called "White Sands Camping" and this was our destination. Oops! After another windy, small country road we arrived at the campsite. No availability. The night before, their website stated there were plenty of pitches (sites) available. We even arrived shortly after noon, with a 1:00pm check-in time. The nice weather and it being a weekend had filled the campsite up. Our stress level was already up because of the narrow roads, and this didn't help. We found a car park to stop, have lunch and make new plans. We searched the Internet for an alternative place to spend the night. We made an online booking for the nearby St. Davids Camping and Caravanning Club site.

Along Today's Route in Wales
Along Today's Route in Wales
Along Today's Route in Wales
Along Today's Route in Wales
Along Today's Route in Wales
From the Campsite
Along Today's Route in Wales
Along Today's Route in Wales
St. Davids Camping and Caravanning
St. Davids Camping and Caravanning

I wasn't worried that we wouldn't find a place to spend the night. We've driven by tons of small campsites. It was just a matter of where one was located on the direction we planned to drive (and the security of knowing we did have a site). St. Davids Camping and Caravanning site was small, but adequate. The reception was extremely friendly and gave us the club membership discount. Come to find out, McRent (our van rental company) is a business member and we're entitled to membership discounts. Yea! Although not located directly on the beach, we did have a nice view of the ocean and bay, with a wonderful sunset.

Dolgellau, Wales

September 2, 2023 - Today was a bit longer drive than what we've been doing. A whole 106-mile drive. Don't be fooled. This is a 3 to 4-hour drive.  We've been on small country roads most of this trip. Although the speed limit is 60 mph, then 30mph through towns, it's rare we drive this fast. The windy and narrow roads limit us to around 45mph. When we do come to a small town, it's more like 15mph. Most small towns have the narrow roads, with cars parked on one side. This only allows one-way traffic. It's lots of pull over and let the other direction go, until you see a space between cars, and you jump out heading directly at them, forcing them to pull over. It's not really as bad as this sounds. It just takes lots of caution and patience. Luckily, the British drivers are really friendly in these circumstances. But it does add hours to a normally short drive.

On our travels today, we made a slight detour to visit  the Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber site (although no bones were ever found here). After driving down some very narrow trails, we were the only visitors there. After a short walk, there was this large rock balancing on two other rocks. Similar to Stonehenge, but on a much smaller scale. I still find it fascinating to see structures like this, made over 5,000 years ago.

Torrent Walk Campsite

In Dolgellau, we stayed one night at the Torrent Walk Campsite $41 (USD), included showers, electric and wifi. It was nothing special, except the pitches were pretty close together and Connie was able to do laundry. We could hear the person next to us snoring all night (louder than me). The only adventure on today's drive was fighting small town traffic to go grocery shopping at a Lidl grocery store. As I've said before, we enjoy grocery shopping here. It's fun to see the different items and packaging. Grocery prices are mixed. Some items are a great deal, while other items are little high. We do love their fresh bakery, with low priced delicacies. 

Ynys, Snowdonia, North Wales

Along today's drive
Fun at the beach.
Along today's drive
Lunchtime views
Along today's drive
We stopped for lunch and some time at the beach.
Old church by the beach, originally established around 435 A.D.
Old church by the beach, originally established around 435 A.D.
Llech Camping and Touring Sites

September 3, 2023 - It was another short drive to our next destination, the Llech Camping and Touring Sites in Ynys, North Wales. $34 a night (USD) with showers and electricity included. We spent a couple nights in the quiet campsite overlooking an estuary. The views were pretty nice. Our site was a slight slope, but huge! We must have had a 49' wide site, with empty space for another 60' next to us. Our campervan uses portable leveling ramps to adjust the level. The ramps worked fine on the rear wheels.

We took our time getting to the site and took a wrong turn a couple times. But we eventually found this small campsite. There are no signs for it anywhere - not even on the main road where you turn. Our first day was mostly relaxing. We made up for it the next day by visiting the Harlech Castle. This castle is a World Heritage Site. It's been well preserved. With the many turrents still standing, you can climb to the top of one of them. The views from the castle are great. I really enjoyed walking around this castle.

The previous day, our daughter Leslie had texted us about an indoor adventure park, located inside some nearby caverns. We were only 30 minutes away, so we decided to have a little fun. Zip World is located inside a huge slate mining cavern. Besides zip lining, they have several other "games", including miniature golf. We headed there for lunch and a round of miniature golf played 500' underground in a slate mining cavern. It was pretty fun, with the darkness, lights, and obstacles. The entire mini-golf course was designed around the mining theme. Part of the fun was the drive getting there. We drove deep into the beautiful Snowdonia countryside and hills.

Loads of slate roofing
The underground mini-golf course
The underground mini-golf course
The slate mine cavern
Loads of slate roofing
The underground mini-golf course
Underground golf
Reading about the Slate mine
The underground mini-golf course
The underground mini-golf course
Going down into the slate mine
Making slate roof tiles demonstration

Llanberis, Snowdonia, North Wales

Llanberis Touring Park
Llanberis Touring Park

 September 5, 2024 - It was another short, 30-mile drive to our next stop. We stayed at the Llanberis Touring Park. $52 (USD) includes very nice showers, electric and slow wifi. We stayed 2 nights here. Although it wasn't a far drive, we took our time and stopped to visit the Dolbadarn Castle ruins. Most likely constructed by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great) in the late 12th or early 13th century, it stood watch over the strategic route inland from Caernarfon to the upper Conwy Valley. However, this wasn't much of a defensive castle. It was more of a status symbol to show others his social standing.

Nearby was also the Snowdon Mountain Railway station. We had seen other travelers on YouTube visit and hike this area. This small steam train provided panoramic views past waterfalls and a ruined chapel on its climb to Snowdon's peak. After lunch (that's another subject), we tried to get tickets for this scenic train ride. Oops! They were sold out for the next 9 days! That reminded me that I never purchased our train ride tickets for the Jackobite train (Harry Potter Hogwarts train) near Fort WIlliams, which we'll be in about a week. That evening, I tried to get these train tickets, Oops 2! They are sold out for almost 2 months! I'm upset with myself, as this was one of the major attractions I wanted to go on. This is the same train used in the filming of Harry Potter. Oh well, maybe we can get some photos of it from the outside crossing the famous bridge.

 The next day was spent with more sightseeing of the local area. We drove over to Anglesey Island. Our first stop was at the South Stack Lighthouse (Goleudy Ynys Lawd) near Holyhead. In a beautiful area. We did a little hiking but didn't bother with the steep hike down (and back up) to the lighthouse itself. Nearby were also some ancient "hut rings". Unfortunately, there wasn't any explanation.

Our next stop for the day was to the Caernarfon Castle. This was great! It's an imposing castle. This fortress-palace on the banks of the River Seiont is grouped with Edward I's other castles at Conwy, Beaumaris and Harlech (we visited this one earlier) as a World Heritage Site. This castle has been well preserved. We paid for our entry and also got the self-guided audio tour. This was well worth the extra $15 (USD), We walked up and down and all around this large castle, getting stories and explanations of all aspects of the castle. After 2 hours, we were getting tired of climbing very narrow towers. This has been one of the highlights of visiting Wales.

Hadrian's Wall, England

Hadrian's Wall Campsite

September 7, 2023 - Today was the longest drive so far on this road-trip. It was about a 220-mile drive to get to Hadrian's Wall in England. We stayed at the Hadrian's Wall Campsite for one night. $36 (USD) included showers, electricity and wifi (which we never got to work). We made sure we got on the road before 9:00am and did some sightseeing before we checked into the campsite.

Hadrian's Wall was built by the Roman empire around 122 A,D, That's almost 1,900 years ago! The Romans were afraid of the Celtic Barbarians (Scottish) and built this wall at the Northern end of Britania. Hadrian's Wall marked the boundary between Roman Britannia and unconquered Caledonia to the north. The rock wall was 8' thick, 12' high, and over 73 miles long. It was built by 5,000 soldiers and laborers. It went from coast to coast and included several forts.

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall
What it would have looked like
Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall

We visited the Roman Army Museum located near the wall. This was a small, but very nice museum on the Roman Army. There was a 3D movie that talked about being in the Roman Army stationed at the Hadrian's Wall. This, and the other exhibits were well done. After the museum, we visited a nearby section of the wall remains that included a small fort/gate through the wall. My imagination goes wild when I visit old places like this. The rock or part of the wall that I was standing on - did Roman soldiers also stand on this very same spot?

If I knew more about Hadrian's Wall before we visited here, I would have planned to stay here for 2 - 3 days. Having only 1/2 a day to visit a small portion was better than nothing, but there was so much more to see. Perhaps someday we'll return, and I can visit more of Hadrian's Wall.

Tomorrow (and the next Blog) - on to Scotland!

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Week 5 - 2023 "Lands" Epic Adventure
Week 3 - 2023 "Lands" Epic Adventure
 

Comments 1

Guest
Guest - Travel with Kevin and Ruth (website) on Friday, 08 September 2023 18:13

We were at Caernarfon Castle in July and loved it as well and like you it was one of the highlights of Wales. We also really loved the coastline in Pembrokeshire. And yes, traveling on those narrow roads does take a long time to get anywhere. We learned to get up really early and drive before traffic got heavy then we would take a break and have breakfast and then continue our drive unless we already reached our destination. We also tried to keep our driving days short.

We were at Caernarfon Castle in July and loved it as well and like you it was one of the highlights of Wales. We also really loved the coastline in Pembrokeshire. And yes, traveling on those narrow roads does take a long time to get anywhere. We learned to get up really early and drive before traffic got heavy then we would take a break and have breakfast and then continue our drive unless we already reached our destination. We also tried to keep our driving days short.
Guest
Monday, 17 June 2024