late June 2008

Week's camping in mid-Wales.

Photos are all off my phone,as I still haven't found where I packed the camera yet!

Our plan was to go for a week's camping in mid-Wales. First port of call was Cwmystwyth, as this is the very middle of Mid-Wales.

The campsite looked idyllic, high up the valley and away from everything. On the first night it rained, the second it blew, the third it was beautiful and so we were eaten alive by midges - worst I've ever seen, outside Scotland. Sadly they were enough to drive us away.

Red Kites - I really wanted to see one of these most impressive birds. On the first day we saw five (and two buzzards) without even trying to look. They're everywhere!

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth

I liked Aberystwyth. This pub could almost have been Dublin.


Vale of Rheidol railway

Vale of Rheidol railway

"Prince of Wales" on the Vale of Rheidol railway

There's a narrow-gauge steam railway that runs from Aberystwyth up the Vale of Rheidol to Devil's Bridge. Naturally we I had to have a ride. When I was last here, it was still run by British Rail and the steam engines even wore the BR blue livery.


Vale of Rheidol

Vale of Rheidol

Ever since the railway was opened (1902) there were tourists here in search of the picturesque — of which there's plenty.

Here we see Dr Evil's riverside hollowed-out-volcano lair. With submarine parking directly off the river.


Devil's Bridge

Devil's Bridge

Devil's Bridge

Devil's Bridge was built by the devil as a way to make people late for their trains.


Mynach Falls at Devil's Bridge

Mynach Falls at Devil's Bridge

Here's a hint: One side of the bridge is a quid to get in, has the best views and takes 10-15 minutes to walk gently round. The other side with the Mynach Falls costs more (must be good then!) and is at least 45 minutes of fell-running down and up vertiginuous stone stairs. You only have an hour between trains max., so take the hint!

For those of you who are feeling well-heeled, the chalet-like Hafod Hotel looks like the perfect location for a weekend away from London or Sheffield (motorbike optional). If you're less flush, they do a topping cream tea with all the trimmings for a titchy amount.


Hafod mansion

walking through the woods at Hafod

Hafod

Our best find was a walk in the grounds of the old Hafod mansion. Hafod is Welsh for ‘Summer Dwelling Place, so it's a common placename. This woodland estate of rivers and waterfalls is well worth a detour.


Fountain in the ruins of Hafod mansion

Fountain in the ruins of Hafod mansion

The house was demolished some years ago. Today there's simply a pile of abandoned rubble. As far as I know, this was due to high death duties in the '50s, a fate that befell several similar houses. They were simply dynamited where they stood.

Fountain in the ruins of Hafod mansion


Hawthorn Cottage by the pond at Hafod

Hawthorn Cottage by the pond at Hafod

Hawthorn Cottage survives for holiday rentals.

It includes such splendid luxuries as "TV and DVD player (no TV reception)".

Rachel had to be pried away from this place. You'd think she wanted to go and live in Wales.


Stacked stones at Hafod

Stacked stones at Hafod

Someone was having a touch of the Andy Goldsworthys.


Machynlleth

Our second campsite was overlooking the beach at Cae Du, just North of Rhosllefain and Tywyn. This was another campsite that's likely to be lovely in the right weather, but it was just a bit too windy this week.

Tywyn is horrible. Deeply, deeply horrible. It has its own narrow-gauge steam railway and it's still horrible.

Round doorway at Machynlleth

Round doorway at Machynlleth

Machynlleth itself was rather more fun. A very pleasant market town filled with little obscure shops, shops of little obscure things (I bought a glowing neon christmas tree lightbulb!) and second-hand bookshops.

I even found a full 13-volume set of the 1933 Oxford English Dictionary, for a bargain price.


Harlech castle

Harlech castle

Harlech castle

Our last day was a train ride up the Cambrian Coast line to Porthmadog and another narrow-gauge railway, passing over Barmouth Bridge and stopping off for a visit to Harlech Castle.

Then wet-rot was setting in, so we set off for home. Weather, and the gloom of Porthmadog, defeated us.