Welsh Holiday from a Coffee Prize
In December 2016 I won a prize with SixtyPlusSurfers Online Magazine. I wrote the Star letter for the month which was about me completing my #walk1000miles challenge in 2016, with some fabulous pictures of me half way up the Old Man of Coniston in the Lake District.
The prize I won for this story was a Personalised Coffee Hamper with coffee, mugs and other yummy goodies.
Unfortunately due to a series of errors and lack of communication, I did not receive that prize and it was unavailable, however the prize supplier said we could exchange it for something else on their website. We found a weekend break for two that was reduced from £194 down to £99. We had a small difference to pay, which was fine.
Afon Rhaiadr – Dolgellau- Wales
We found a gorgeous 5 star boutique hotel in Dolgellau, on the edge of Snowdonia, for our stay. Afon Rhaiadr is set in its own grounds and is run by Gina and Gareth Ritchie. The food is all home cooked and is gorgeous. We had a double room with a private bathroom. The hosts had thought of every little detail, including providing milk in a flask for those of us (me) who like to drink gallons of tea at all times of day and night.
The bathroom had a big, deep bath where I could completely stretch out. It was heaven!
We used this as a base for walking and for exploring the area.
On the day we arrived, we stopped before we got to the hotel, as there was a particularly beautiful peak that caught our attention. It was rather a hasty walk up to the top and was probably not one of our most prepared walks, however the views from the top were well worth the effort – and the steep upward climb!
We had booked an afternoon tea at the hotel, so, after that calf-burning hike up a hill, we were ready for tea. It was delicious, especially the scones, which were incredibly light, yet very tasty.
After tea, we drove down to the nearest coastal town, which is Barmouth Bay.
We walked along the beach in both directions, treating ourselves to the obligatory ice-cream with a chocolate flake. We watched the local life-boat launch out to sea, which was a very slick operation.
The other side of the bay where the buildings are is much busier as it is the main tourist area.
This side of the bay is much quieter, with fewer people.
Our trip was in early May and the beach was covered in huge jellyfish. The tide was coming in, so I am not sure if they would be washed back out to sea. I could not tell if the jellyfish were alive or dead and I was not about to poke one to find out!
Massive jellyfish on the beach. There were hundreds of them all along the beach on the Fairbourne side of Barmouth Bay, Wales. Not sure if it was dead or alive and I was not about to touch it to find out! #jellyfish #deadoralive #hugejellyfish #fairbourne #barmouth #cardiganbay #wales #walk #walk1000miles #evening
We wandered into Barmouth Village, in search of a particular shop. Just before we left, our daughter had given us four boxes of the most delicious fudge known to woman-kind, so it seemed only right and fitting that we found the shop where it was made – on the high street in Barmouth!
Day 2 – Blaenau Ffestiniog Train and Slate Mines
The next day we drove to Blaenau Ffestiniog, which is about 20 miles away. It is a very scenic drive as you climb more up into Snowdonia. This was once a thriving town based on the high quality slate from the mines. The town now has re-invented itself into a tourist attraction, with the underground and overground tours of the mining areas, a long zip wire through the old quarries and trampolines set up in the underground caves.
The other main attraction is the Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog Steam railway. This was once a working train that transported the slate down to the port. Now it transports visitors in the luxury of old times. It takes about an hour each way and there is some stunning scenery in both directions.
We paid extra for first class in both directions, however, on reflection, we would have probably had an even better experience if we had taken the trip down to Porthmadog in the 2nd class and returned in 1st class. This is because the engine is directly in front of the first class carriage when you go in that direction, so the views are quite obscured.
On the way back from Porthmadog, the engine is at the front and the first class carriage at the back, so you have better views from the back windows.
We did not have a great deal of time at Portmadog, which was a bit of a shame. We did the trip this way to tie in with the times that we could visit the slate mines. It also meant that the car was at Blaenau Ffestiniog, so we could drive up to the Slate Mines from the town, rather than walking. It is only a mile, but it is a long mile – uphill!
We booked to go on the last Slate mine tour of the day, which was at 4.30 pm. This also gave us a free goodie bag of a bottle of Welsh beer and some very tasty Cheese that is matured underground in the slate mines – and very tasty it was as well.
With the tour of the slate mines, you need to be wrapped up warm, even in Summer, because you are going deep underground and it is quite cold down there. You have the option to wear boiler suits if you choose and hard hats are compulsory.
Greg and I were the only ones on the tour, which meant that we could hear every word that the guide was saying and could ask plenty of questions. It is really fascinating.
On the way back we stopped at a local fish and chip shop, on the recommendation of our slate mine guide, and enjoyed some very tasty traditional British food whilst parked on the cliff top, looking over to sea, as the sun set over the bay.
Day 3 – Woodland Walks
After breakfast we set off for home. Our hosts at the hotel had recommended a woodland walk to us. It is called the Torrent Walk and took us down through the valley, path waterfalls and ponds and several large glacial boulders.
It was very pretty. I am gad we did it on a dry day, when there had not been much rainfall. I can quite imagine water gushing down through that valley and you can clearly see the height that the river level rises to when it has been raining heavily.
The only thing with a long walk DOWN through woods is the walk back UP to the car on the road!
We then took the scenic route to Bala and out over the narow, winding roads to Lake Vymay, which his on the other side of the mountain. It was a stunning drive, with sweeping views. It was just a shame that there was no where to stop safely to be able to take pictures.
We enjoyed some tea and ice creams by the lake and then set off in search of the highest waterfall in Wales, which was close by. This is at a place called Pistyll Rhaeadr and, at 80m (240ft), it is the highest single drop waterfall in Wales.
We had a wonderful 3 days in Wales, with a variety of different experiences.
I am sure the coffee prize would have been very nice and much appreciated, however this trip was definitely better.