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!
I liked Aberystwyth. This pub could almost have been Dublin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Someone was having a touch of the Andy Goldsworthys.
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.
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.
Then wet-rot was setting in, so we set off for home. Weather, and the gloom of Porthmadog, defeated us.