Mawddach and Barmouth

Last Sunday morning Greg our energetic local mini bus driver dropped us off at Pen-maen-pool where we started our walkabout for the day. We hiked along the Mawddach estuary one of the most beautiful in the whole of Wales. We stopped for lunch on the shore, made a fire and enjoyed our home made sandwiches and a hot cup of tea. In Abermaw (Barmouth) we had ice creams at the 15th century tavern “David Jones’ Locker”. A local boatman took us over to Penrhyn Point across the channel to catch a steam narrow gauge train to Fairbourne where Greg picked us up and returned us to the our hotel the “Meirionnydd" in Dolgellau for a well deserved supper!

Walkout Tour Final Day

On our last day of our Wild Wales Walkabout today we wandered around the mountain villages of Llanberis and Betws y Coed. Before our delicious lunch at Ty Hwnt y Bont we visited the knitting Mills at Trefriw where they weave Welsh bedspreads with machinery that is powered by a water driven turbine. This afternoon we hiked around Bodnant Botanical Gardens where the world famous Laburnum arch was in full bloom. The air was sweet with the smell of the blossoms and the buzzing sounds of the bees form all around!

Trains and Company

Yesterday morning after breakfast in Dolgellau our mini bus driver transported us to the slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog up in the hill country of the Snowdonia National Park. After our tea break we took the Welsh Highland Railway to Portmeirion, the Italianate village on the coast. We hiked through the countryside to the seaport town of Porthmadog to our hotel for the evening the Royal Sportsman. Last night we all dined at the” Y Sgwar” in Tremadog across the street where Lawrence of Arabia was born in 1888.

Castell-Y-Bere

Off the beaten path near the small village of Llanfihangel-Y-Pennant here in a mid Wales vale, sits the dramatic fort of Castell-Y-Bere. Built by the great Welsh Warrior Llewelyn the Great in 1220 during the reign of Henry III. This impressive sturdy stone castle protected the southern part of the county of Gwynedd. Yesterday we were able to visit this lonely outpost much overlooked by many a traveler today. Rambling around on our Walkabout today below the castle we saw a large flock of Long Tailed Tits, a Blue Tit and a Stone Chat (black head). Images courtesy of Llen Natur.

Crogennan Lakes

On our Wild Wales Walkabout yesterday we hiked around the Crogennan Lakes just a couple of miles west of the iconic mountain top of Cader Idris in the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. Sheep dotted the hillsides as Skylarks flew around us and a Red Kite flew over our heads. We hiked along the Black Road built by the Romans 2000 years ago overlooking the Mawddach estuary and Barmouth. Before we entered the woods next to the river we heard the cuckoo singing nearby and walked through the mossy woods past many a waterfall along the way.

Bardsey Island

Our Wild Wales Walkabout started in Aberdaron this week and yesterday we visited Bardsey Island the burial ground of 20,000 saints. The island was possibly named after the Viking chieftain Barda, and Saint Cadfan built a monastery here in 516AD. This small island at the end of the Llyn peninsular in North Wales has been a pilgrimage destination since then. The monastery was dissolved and destroyed by Henry VIII in 1537.Today the isle, Ynys Enlli in Welsh is still a spiritual destination for many pilgrims.

Cardiff Central Food Market

Yesterday after visiting the Welsh Senate overlooking the harbor here in Cardiff, South Wales many of us wandered around the Cardiff Central Food Market. A center for food excellence that was established in1890. A large impressive Victorian building with a large glass roof situated in the middle of the bustling city. Lots of fresh fish, Welsh cakes and baked goods!

Dylan Thomas and Tenby

The Plantagenet House Restaurant where we ate last night in Tenby by the sea dating back to the 12th century. Excellent seafood, this is where Bill & Rosalynn Carter dined when they were over here visiting the home and birth place of Dylan Thomas a few years ago. When we arrived in Laugharne to visit Thomas’ studio and home we found out it was the International Dylan Thomas day! Mark Montinaro was reciting Fern Hill and other Thomas works as we arrived. A picture of Thomas’ writing shed over looking the estuary of the river Taf. When we return in October, Mark has agreed to entertain us and we will also dine at the Plantagenet for a special meal at this medieval eatery.

The Marine Hotel, Archaeology, and Tea

Last night we stayed at the Marine Hotel in the seacoast town of Aberystwyth on Cardigan Bay in Mid Wales. After breakfast we drove to Strata Florida a Cistercian Abbey built in 1160. Our presenter here was David Austin a Professor of Archaeology and the director the Strata Florida Project just a few miles east of Pont Rhydfendigaid. With the help of Ground Penetrating Radar they have discovered a celtic church under the Abbey. According to Professor Austin this might make this location the most important historic site in the whole of Europe. Stopped at Cenarth Falls for some home made Bara Brith and tea this afternoon on our way to our hotel in Tenby. At the Plantagenet Restaurant this even

The Tour Continues

As we travel through Wales on our Wild Wales Tour we are joined by storytellers and musicians. We started our day yesterday at Portmeirion an Italianate village on the shores of the River Dwyryd in Porthmadog. We had lunch at the award winning restaurant Dylanwad in Dolgellau where we were greeted by Mair playing the triple harp. After eating our lunch we were entertained by Colin a local storyteller and historian who spun a few yarns for us. Last night we stayed in the Marine Hotel on the promenade here in Aberystwyth where we were joined in the bar by Lyn Ebenezer a favorite Welsh celebrity and character! After breakfast this morning we will head to Strata Florida a Cistercian Abbey built

More Welsh Birds

Glorious weather here in Wales at the moment and a few of us have been actively bird watching before breakfast and along our route as we amble through Wales on our Wild Wales Tour. We are presently in the seaside town of Porthmadog and leave tomorrow for Dolgellau and Aberystwyth. During our coffee break this morning a few of us heard the cuckoo in the distance along the shore. The last few days we have seen Black tailed Godwits, Grasshopper Warblers, Dunnocks, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail and the Yellow Wagtail, Mystle Thrush, Red Kites, Skylarks and this morning a Rock pipit, Curlew and Oystercatchers. Pictures courtesy of Llen Natur.

Flowers, Fibers, and Natural Beauty

Yesterday morning we made a visit to the woolen mills in Trefrew. After lunch in Llanrwst our Wild Wales Tour group visited the botanical gardens at Bodnant here in North Wales under sunny blue skies.The Dolbadaran castle built by Llewelyn ap Gruffydd sits right behind our hotel here, The Royal Victorian in the mountain village of Llanberis. Today we will be visiting the castle in Caernarfon and after lunch we will take the Welsh Highland narrow gauge train through the Snowdonia National Park mountains down to the seafaring town of Porthmadog where we will be given a presentation at the Maritime Museum.

Chester on the river Dee

Chester on the river Dee was founded by the Romans in 79AD and is one of the best preserved walled cities in Britain. The Romans exited the city in 410AD when the Roman Empire was unfolding. In 616AD the Saxons took over Chester and strengthened the walls of the city to protect against the invading Danes. Much of the architecture today in Chester is medieval. Today we walked along the canal that was built here to transport goods during the Industrial Revolution. Today the system of lochs on the canals are used by pleasure barges that travel throughout Wales and England.

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