Travel Jottings

Celebrating the best bits and bobs to be found while exploring Europe and North America. Much is inspired by real outings, whether they were walking, cycling or photographic in nature, while virtual blundering in the name of planning them has turned up some gems too. Regardless of how they were found, I hope that they keep coming so I can continue to share new things with you here.

Wales: Where I Am Ever a Visitor

Burial Chamber, Dyffryn Ardudwy, Gwynedd, Wales

it wasn't long after I set up my stall in England that I got to visiting Wales for the very first time. That journey took me to Betws-y-Coed from where I walked up to the Swallow Falls in the rain. Thankfully, the rain stopped but it still took a while for things to cheer up completely afterwards. After a useful meal, I returned to Betws-y-Coed and dropped in on Llanrwst on the way home. One I got past the more down-at-heel parts of the place, pleasantness was very much on view and I even got to take in Gwydir Castle too. It wasn't a bad introduction to the principality and I travelled there and away by train on the same day too, even if the August bank holiday Sunday that I picked ensured that part of my journey was shared with many others bound for seaside fleshpots on the north Wales coast (that made for a very busy train after Chester).

Many return journeys have followed that initial escapade with Gwynedd, Conwy, Powys, Denbighshire and Pembrokeshire all getting a share of my attentions. Most of those visits have been with the intention of sampling Welsh hill country and I hardly can say that any have really been disappointing. There's always plenty more left to be seen but that's no cause for complaint at all.

It's true to say that parts of Wales have a more rough and ready feel to them. For instance, the sight of neatly parked crashed vehicles atop a hillock near Nantlle is not something that I'll easily forget and that was after crossing a field bereft of grass after cattle being out-wintered on it. Seeing rusting hulks of machinery left in fields near Tanygrisiau actually reminded me of what some of us Irish folk are capable of doing (it stops me calling the Welsh messy) and then there is all the remains of slate mining dotted about the place; you cannot escape the effects of industry so easily in Wales. Another needless sight was a few lads messing about atop a hill and on National Trust land near Abergavenny with a car being driven at more speed than necessary; that the car turned over without seriously injuring anyone was perhaps some evidence of just deserts. All of that could be a manifestation of something that I have seen in my native Ireland: a certain lack of appreciation of what is there and then not realising how precious that it all is. Some might contend that the current proliferation of wind farms in Wales is yet more evidence in support of this. Of course, it can be said that when you don't know what you have, then you don't know what you are destroying but that can apply anywhere and not just Wales.

Even with those instances that I have described above, there remains plenty of Wales that remains unspoilt. The wild open countryside about the Rhinogs comes to mind here but that's not all. The Ogwen valley south of Bethesda is suitable for inclusion as is the countryside about Beddgelert (there's really no need for stupid stories about accidental dog killing). Pick any mountain range within the Brecon Beacons National Park and a special solitude could be yours too. I also can vouch for Pembrokeshire after a weekend visit a few years back. In fact, there are many places in the principality worth visiting and with friendly service for the visitor adding to the quality of such an experience.

As I always seem to say, plenty more awaits discovery so I can keep going back time and again. Also, I quite fancy the idea of adding the Gower peninsula to my tally of locations visited. My visits so far have helped me to build up the website listings that are found here, be they visitor/travel information or news on the latest happenings. The idea of adding articles such as a bluffer's guide to pronouncing selected Welsh names is on the cards too, bringing in what can found in the blog as the foundation. That is but one plan but that's never to say that a day spent walking somewhere mightn't inspire me to add more and improve what's already here.