If I should choose three words characteristic for Wales, they’d be: nature, sheep, and Welsh language. The nature is inhospitable, it’s windy and the soil is stony, but flowers in mild and humid environment are in blossom. Endless coast with cold water is still attractive, and despite the mountains you’ll see lengthy meadows covered with cattle and sheep. Wales has three times more sheep than its population. They are everywhere, on each field, even in the morning your neighbour’s sheep wishes you Good Morning! Welsh as a Celtic language is far from the Slavic. At a glance it seems like randomly grouped characters into words, but I think it’d interesting to learn basic phrases. If you have time, Duolingo has Welsh course.
With a car you have privilege to see remote places. We were lucky to have our friend with us and see breathtaking places along the coast and in the national park. Despite the villages are scattered and people more isolated, surprisingly, the Welsh are nice, open, and curious.
Snowdonia National Park
When we were arriving to Llanberis, the mountains became real. The highest peak in Wales is 1,085 metres above sea level, but the rocky terrain and cold breeze felt like thousand metres higher. The town has 2 railways. Steam railway around the Lake Padarn is more attractive for children. The ride lasts 1:10 hr and costs 10£. We planned going up to Snowdon peak. Return train ticket is 30£ and takes 2:30 hrs with 30-minute break on the summit.
If you come early morning, I recommend hiking. The trail is gently ascending, it says 3:30 hrs up and 3 hrs down, but the trail is moderate and I think people in better shape will make it faster. On the summit you can enjoy stunning panoramic view and see Irish sea, surrounding mountains, famous Crib Goch, dozens of lakes, and Ireland if the sky is clear. If you want the picture with the sign on the summit, you’ll probably have to queue.
Over the Lake Padarn are quarries with funny names, such as Mordor, The Lost World, Serengeti, Dali’s Hole, Tasmania, Australia, Wellington.
The city with the longest name in Europe, and the second longest in the world has 58 letters and got its name in 1860s to attract people’s attention. Successfully done. Its meaning in English is “The Church of Mary in the Hollow of the White Hazel Near the Fierce Whirlpool and the Church of Tysilio by the Red Cave”. Of course they use this name minimally. More popular are shortcuts such as Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Llanfairpwll, or Llanfair PG. Visitors come here to witness this curiosity, and the railway station became the most visited place because the entire name is proudly displayed above its door. Unfortunately, they just come to take a picture and leave.
We decided to support at least local pub. And the city’s football team who won the cup, too. One of the players gave me generous offer―to take a picture with him. I politely denied, he was just another sweaty stranger for me. When the team will be famous I probably regret my decision.
The accommodation we chose was airbnb in the marine village called Trefor. As typical in England, we were surprise to learn that there is no pub. On our question, people replied “You are in Wales”. At least they had mini-market with sufficient supply of beer.
Seaside town significant for tourism in Wales, and royal family, too. On the castle from 13th century was on 1 July 1969 held investiture ceremony for Charles, Prince of Wales. You can explore its walls which reminds maze ideal for playing hide and seek. There’s also museum, blacksmith’s workshop, and on the courtyard you can train archery. Admission fee is 10£, and the best view is from western tower.
Town centre is fortified and hide restaurants, pubs, and stylish boutiques.
Also called as gate to Snowdonia. Before, Porthmadog was significant business crossroads, home of Festiniog Railway, and known for construction of yachts in the harbour. Nowadays, it’s a touristic destination and a base for exploring region. Most popular place is The Cob―a mile-long causeway across the mouth of the river.
When I came to Portmeirion, I couldn’t believe I’m still in Britain. I crossed the gate and teleported to Italy. The founder of Portmeirion is Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. His idea of building such village came earlier than he found ideal place. It was built in two phases.
In the first phase in 1926―1939 were constructed main buildings and houses. In 1954―1976, these were completed with details. Clough designed majority of the buildings, and his first goal was to re-built old house on the bank to Grand Hotel.
In the forest runs road train, but we came late and the train was full. Admission fee is 12£, and 10£ after 3:15 PM. Be careful with the time, last train runs at 4:30 PM, and cafes and restaurants close at 5:30 PM.
Are you interested?
Video about Porthmadog and Portmeirion
Information about Snowdonia
Source of photograph Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, and other photographies from Portmeirion