Two Weeks in Wales

In May we spent two weeks in North Wales. Paul’s mum is from there, so it’s not a new area for us – it was my third visit there, but I never get bored of this area. Just before the long journey from London to Wales, I picked up my new camera – a Canon EOS 6D, I’ve finally taken the step to full-frame 🙂

One of our first trips was to Porthmadog by train. From there it’s a short distance to Borth-y-Gest, a very pretty village around a bay that falls completely dry at low tide. Time to test my camera 🙂

Low tide at Borth-y-Gest near Porthmadog Panorama of Borth-y-Gest, with lots of rain showers around...

Later that day we went for our usual walk on the beach at Llandanwg. Heavy showers had been passing all day, and the skies were very threatening while we were on the beach…

Threatening skies on the beach at Llandanwg Shortly after taking this photo we had to run for cover from a heavy rain shower

In the end we had to run for cover, and we found shelter underneath the entrance to the small church of St Tanwg. This very old church used to be in the fields, but is now surrounded by dunes. For some time it was even buried in sand, and only dug out once a year for mass. At the moment it’s in more regular use, but a lot of the gravestones are buried in the dunes. A fascinating place! And it was even more special when the rain shower passed, and a bright double rainbow spanned over the church – beautiful 🙂

We sheltered near the church, and were rewarded with a bright rainbow when the sun broke through Paul posing under the very bright double rainbow

We continued our walk on the beach, with beautiful clouds…

The beach and the last remains of the rainbow seen from the top of the dunes When it cleared up, we continued our walk along the beach

Around sunset the light was very yellow and we walked back over the tidal flats next to the river, together with a lot of sheep and their lambs 🙂

A typical Welsh scene: sheep, lambs, stone walls and yellow broom flowering on the hills The light was very yellow around sunset, and the sheep were reflected in the small tidal ponds

Another beach that we like to visit is the huge beach near Harlech. You can walk there from Llandanwg, but this time we drove to the parking lot at the golf course, as we wanted to reach the far end – about 5 km one way. Paul took his kite, and took aerial photos of the beach.

The wide beach at Harlech Paul took aerial photos with a camera on a kite.

A pretty cumulonimbus on the horizon, making a meteorologist very happy 😉

A nice cumulonimbus on the horizon :)

The beach at the far end is HUGE!

Paul at the very end of Harlech beach

We walked back at sunset, with the clouds colouring pink and flocks of birds flying around us – so beautiful.

Flocks of birds were flying around us A beautiful sunset!

We didn’t meet anyone else during our walk, except for this one guy when we were almost back.

A lonely cloud reflected in the wet sand The only other person we met that evening

Here are some photos that Paul took with his kite:

Lots and lots of sand It's funny to see the wave patterns from above Two small persons on a huge beach

The next day we decided to go for a long walk: the northern section of the Ardudwy Way. We did it in the opposite direction as described on the website, as it meant we could take a train to Llandecwyn in the morning, and walk back to Llandanwg. The weather wasn’t perfect, it was overcast with a few drops of rain, and quite cold – but we still enjoyed the hike. Near the start of the hike we found this really cute little lamb…

We came across this cute lamb, I wanted to take it home with me!! A cold, grey and wet day - but we still enjoyed our hike

The church of Llandecwyn has a spectacular view!

The small church of Llandecwyn - with a grand view :) Panorama of the view towards Porthmadog and the river estuary

We passed through a mossy forest, and came across this lonely farmhouse high in the hills.

Paul in the mossy forest A lonely farmhouse in the hills

After that we left all houses and roads behind, though we did follow a Bronze Age trackway (3000-4000 years old) through the hills. The highlight of the trip was Bryn Cader Faner, a Bronze Age burial site or cairn circle. Quite impressive!

A typical weathered tree :) The impressive cairn circle of Bryn Cader Faner, more than 3000 years old

Paul flew his kite for a while, but the cairn circle just looks like a pile of rocks from above 😉 We continued our way back to Llandanwg, it took us about 7 hours to walk the 20 km – a long day!

A kite photo showing Bryn Cader Faner from above - looks like a pile of rocks without any pattern! A little lamb was guarding this lonely farmhouse

I had sore muscles after our hike, but I couldn’t stay inside when this double rainbow appeared over the Moelfre in the evening… followed by an amazing sunset 🙂

In the evening we were treated to another double rainbow! A fantastic sunset followed...

The next day we took it easy and we went on a day trip to Aberystwyth (by car). We hadn’t been there before, but it’s a very pretty and pleasant town. Full of students, which is quite a change from other parts of North Wales where the population consists of lots of pensioners 😉

The castle ruins in Aberystwyth Panorama of the sea front at Aberystwyth - a very pretty town!

Our real destination for the day was the submerged forest at the beach near Borth. This “forest” (collection of tree trunks) is between 4500 and 6000 years old, and only visible at low tide. There doesn’t seem to be a clear reason why this forest became submerged, but there isn’t much information available. It’s not indicated on any maps, and only mentioned in one sentence at Ynyslas Nature Reserve (though the information centre there was closed by the time we arrived, perhaps they had more information inside). Anyway, well worth a visit!

Clouds and dunes at Ynyslas Nature Reserve The submerged forest at Borth. Forest might be a bit exaggerated, but the tree trunks were impressive nonetheless

The tree trunks were beautiful, and you could see all the tree rings on them. They still feel like wood, it’s hard to believe they are thousands of years old!

The tree trunks are only visible at low tide, and apparently sometimes even then they are covered in sand The trees are between 4500 and 6000 years old!

You could clearly see the tree rings on the trunks It makes you wonder what the landscape used to look like here A trunk filled with rocks and shells

Paul had his kite with him again, and he took some photos of the forest from above….

Paul took kite photos here too :) The tree trunks look like starfish from above He even managed to get an aerial panorama!

When our muscles had rested long enough, we decided to climb Rhinog Fawr, the highest of the two neighbouring Rhinog peaks. We parked at a farm next to where the so-called Roman Steps start. I have seen this name on a map for many years now, and it always intrigued me. Why were the Romans building steps in the mountains? It was almost disappointing to learn the truth: the path has nothing to do with the Romans, it was a medieval pack-horse trail. You can follow it all the way to the pass where we turned off to climb to the top of Rhinog Fawr. Impressive! We got a bit lost here, when you get closer to the top there are many paths to follow.

The Roman steps, which made me imagine a Roman army marching up the mountain... but it's actually a medieval pack-horse trail! Paul enjoying the cloudy view from Rhinog Fawr

The weather was cloudy and we got a few drops of rain while on top. Luckily someone had built a shelter so we could enjoy our lunch out of the wind!

Somebody had built a stone shelter on top, which was a nice place to eat lunch The obligatory cairn-balancing photo ;)

A cute little bridge on our way back to the car. The last part of the path goes through a mossy forest.

A cute little bridge on our way back, following the Roman steps The last part of the path goes through a mossy forest

As usual, the weather cleared up in the evening and we enjoyed another fantastic sunset from the beach…

As usual, it cleared up enough in the evening for a beautiful sunset We just couldn't stop taking photos! A not-entirely-sharp panorama of the sunset - it was spectacular!

The next day we decided to walk the southern section of Ardudwy Way. Paul’s parents decided to join for the first part of the hike, as the weather was very nice. We started from Barmouth, with great views from the broom-covered hills to the coast.

Looking down at Barmouth and the beach, from the broom covered hillside Paul and his dad on the way up

We passed lots of ruined farmhouses, and a couple of lived-in ones 🙂

One of the many ruined farmhouses we saw that day This one was only half in ruins ;) and was lived in

The sunshine disappeared which made it a lot chillier, but the views were still great

Wales is a windy place... Panorama overlooking the river estuary at Barmouth

Paul’s parents were curious to see Cerrig Arthur, a small stone circle that is quite well known around Barmouth. We almost didn’t find it though, as it’s just 3 rocks in the middle of a field… a bit of a anticlimax really, especially when we also found that we had a long climb ahead of us and our views were taken away by fog and light rain rolling in. By this time it was also too late for Paul’s parents to turn around as they had planned, so we decided to all walk to Tal Y Bont where we had left one car in the parking lot.

Pretty views This was Cerrig Arthur, so much fuss about 3 rocks... The clouds rolled in soon after we left Cerrig Arthur behind. Here we are relieved to have reached the highest point, but the path down was not the easiest

The last part of the hike is really pretty, it follows a river surrounded by a mossy forest. The forest was full of bluebells and other flowers, very pretty!

Group photo on the old bridge - the wide angle makes me look like a giant, but hey ;) Bluebells in the forest

We made it back to the car just before it got dark. It all worked out nicely, as we were able to order pizza’s in Tal Y Bont, drive back to Barmouth to pick up the other car, and pick up the pizza’s on our way home 🙂

The river - it would have been fun to have a tripod here Wild garlic

Our holiday in Wales was coming to an end, and one place I was still keen to visit was Ynys Llanddwyn. This is a tidal island (only becoming an island at the highest of tides) on the coast of Anglesey. I had seen lots of beautiful photos taken here, and I was very excited about visiting 🙂 We parked at Newborough Forest, and walked along the beach to Ynys Llanddwyn…

Llanddwyn Bay, with Ynys Llanddwyn to the right, and Newborough Forest on the left Sea Thrift growing in the most impossible places

It was a beautiful day: warm and sunny! The island was covered in lots and lots of flowers… and there were birds everywhere.

There were fields of bluebells - I thought they only grew in forests, but here they were right next to the sea More bluebells

The island was also full of birds. I believe this is a stonechat. It makes a funny sound! Our first view of the lighthouse, the two crosses, and the lighthouse cabins

I took a lot of photos and I really enjoyed our visit. There are two towers here, one is an old beacon called Twr Back, and the other a lighthouse called Twr Mawr. There are also some lighthouse cottages, a cross, a Celtic cross, the ruin of a church… plenty of things to see!

The old beacon Twr Bach Paul in front of Twr Bach

And there were horses!

A surprise: there were horses on the island! One of the horses was convinced Paul had an apple in his pocket...

Such a beautiful place…

Someone checked out the beach in a large zodiac The cross on top of the island, with Twr Bach on the left and the lighthouse Twr Mawr on the right So many flowers...

A few days later our holiday was coming to an end… On the last day, the weather was perfect and we went for one last walk to Harlech beach – I think you can understand it was hard to leave views like this… what a perfect little holiday 🙂

A last goodbye... on the zig-zag path above Harlech beach

4 Responses to “Two Weeks in Wales”

  1. anjci says:

    This is just unbelievably lovely! Let me try and convince MY Englishman to visit now… :o) Glad you are looking so happy, Hanneke!

    • Hanneke says:

      Thank you!! Would highly recommend a visit to North Wales 🙂 And very happy that you found your very own Englishman – they’re the best, aren’t they? 😉 Have a good summer!

  2. Jacqui says:

    Fabulous photos….I was looking for images of around Harlech to show my husband as we holidayed there as children. He is now keen to go!

    • Hanneke says:

      Thank you very much, and glad to hear you convinced your husband to visit the Harlech area 🙂 it’s so nice there!