Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Autumn Thrills in Snowdonia - Day 1


Snowdonia                                                                                                 Wales

Saturday 17th October 2015

My last journey of the year finally approached to the exotic land of Wales. This trip however would hit hard though as my father couldn’t come to Wales due to being in Hospital for the week. This meant it would be just my mother, Smudge and I; also known as the three explorers. I was still excited about heading for Snowdonia but it would be weird not sharing the experience with my father. My mother was excited too but I knew deep down in her heart that she was upset with the fact my father couldn’t come. I woke up at 6am as the night sky still lingered. I quickly shot up and got changed whilst my mother was still asleep in the next room. I wasted no time packing the car with all our belongings for the week ahead. Funnily enough as soon as I finished, my mother was awake and ready none the wiser at the fact I had already packed the car. I headed back in to have my breakfast going over the route to take to get to Snowdonia which was 269 mile south west of my hometown.

A while had passed until it started to brighten up outside. My mother and I were ready for the long trip to Wales so we left the house making sure we had everything; even the dog. It was at this moment it became surreal at the fact that my father wasn’t coming with us and became harder as we drove by the hospital he was staying in. My mother couldn’t look over as I waved goodbye to my father. We headed straight for the Tyne Tunnel as I took advantage of the new cars’ cruise control. It felt like I was enjoying the drive more without worrying about the pedals. After paying the toll fee, we drove through the mile long tunnel continuing south on the A19 road. We would be on this road for a good hour passing places such as Peterlee, Middlesbrough and Thirsk heading for the A1 motorway. It was quite relaxing driving as there was hardly any traffic whilst taking my time listening to the radio. 

Tyne Tunnel

Yet another long time passed along the A1 motorway as my mother and I admired the autumn forests with there vibrant colours of reds, yellows and oranges. We had finally reached our first break point at Wetherby service station. Just as we were arriving there, my father had rung us asking how we were doing and where we were. He was quite surprised at how quick we got to Wetherby services. He said he was feeling down at the fact that he couldn’t come with us. After the conversation ended, my mother and I headed inside the station to grab ourselves a coffee to go and resting before the second leg of the long journey. I used our rest time to go over the route making sure I was heading for the right turn offs and exits writing the junction numbers on my hand for ease. I didn’t want to use the satellite navigation on this trip as I knew I wouldn’t have enjoyed the drive making the journey feel a lot longer too.

Wetherby Services

We eventually took our leave back onto the A1 motorway heading straight for the M1 motorway. For the next 2 hours we would be driving on the M1, M62, M60, back on the M62, M6, M56, A494 and then the A55. Along the way there were some idiots who wouldn’t let me overtake them easily or cars cutting across three lanes of traffic to get onto the slip road nearly causing accidents. My mother was great at these occurrences as she became the early warning system with the ‘eeee’s and the ‘oooo’s’. 

Journey to Wales

By this point we were in Wales as we were welcomed by the Welsh language on the road signs, it partly felt as though we were abroad but the cold miserable weather made us aware that we were still in the UK. Anyway, the A55 was becoming relentlessly boring until we approached the picturesque views of Colwyn bay. We entered through a few tunnels set well in the hillsides along the coastline vastly approaching Llandudno. We were still 2 hours ahead of our schedule so we took a detour to Llandudno. My mother was here in February so she had a rough idea on how to get to the town centre and car park. As we arrived, I couldn’t help but notice how many shops were in this small town. We eventually found the multi story car park very lucky to even find a space as the town was full of people and cars. We all got out the car stretching our legs and arms feeling good to be out of the car again. It was a good job I had put my jacket on as it was freezing when we exited the car park and it didn’t help as I was wearing shorts too. 

We immediately headed for the sea front to admire the beautiful views of Conwy bay as the waves were crashing hard against the pebble shoreline. On our right was a very long row of old detailed buildings with nice architecture stretching for more than a mile and then at the end was a huge rocky cliff area which fought back the ever growing waves. On our left were all the amusements and gift shops along with a very beautiful pier at the end. We decided to head left to get a closer look at the pier passing all the amusements full of exciting children and exhausted parents. The smell of the place was very familiar with a mixture of sea air, fresh donuts and cotton candy. The closer we got to the pier, the windier and colder it became. We turned around at this point and made our way back to the car. As we were about to leave the seafront, there was an elderly woman with a swimsuit on. We couldn’t believe it as she was intending on going for a swim in the cold choppy water; even I wasn’t that crazy but you only live once I suppose. 


We were happy to be back in the warm car with the heaters blowing as we made our way out of the seaside town back onto the A55. We were now heading to Bangor but as we neared the area we weren’t stopping as we just wanted to arrive at our destination. Along the way we had passed Caernarfon and finally onto the final road for the home straight. We were looking for a farmhouse named ‘Ffridd Uchaf’ just off a very small village name ‘Rhyd Ddu’. The road we were using was narrow but still enough for cars to be side to side. This also meant the scenery was outstanding as we were now in the heart of Snowdonia. Green mountains were all around us with woodland trails draping down the valleys below the mountains full of autumn colours. It was hard to look at the scenery though as I had to concentrate on our destination.

Journey to Rhyd Ddu

We passed a sign saying welcome to ‘Rhyd Ddu’ so we were closing in on the farm. I had to slow down to concentrate and as there were no cars on this road this made things a lot easier. Then finally there it was set in front of a small woodland area quarter of a mile up the hill from the road. The sign at the metal farm gate confirmed we were at the exact place we needed to be. A great sense of relief came to us all looking upon the beautiful farm and our home for the next week. We didn’t know whether the farmer would come to the gate and meet us or we had to drive up to the farm. So we decided to just open the gate and drive up. In the back of my mind I thought that a crazed farmer would rush out with his shotgun and tell us to get off his land. However, an old friendly gentleman approached us as smudge began barking her head off. He was wondering why there were only two of us so we explained about my fathers’ situation. He didn’t mind though so he took us on a small tour of the converted barn we would be staying in.

Our Home for the Week

As soon as we entered, it was absolutely quaint with a mixture of old and modern interiors with an old wood burner in the living room. It felt peaceful too as did the upstairs area really feeling as though this was a place of retreat. The farmer told us about the surrounding area too mainly about what villages were nearby and which path to take to climb Mt. Snowdon. It was great information he was giving to us and then he showed us the Jacuzzi in the small barn next to our cottage which only we could use. What a great view we had in front of us too as we had the large green hills set well with majestic farmlands. He then took his leave with us unpacking the car with no help from Smudge whatsoever. 

Ffridd Uchaf
Welsh Countryside

Once everything was in and unpacked, I lit the fire using newspaper and kindle which took a few attempts to get right but once it was glowing we could finally feel warm and relaxed as my mother had happiness in her eyes for the first time today realising we had made it safe and sound with the thought of the coming days. A while had passed and it was pitch black outside with not a light source in sight. I decided to take Smudge for a small walk down the farm track to the metal gate and so with my torch in hand I headed out with the dog. I wrapped myself up well as when I stood outside it was like walking into a freezer.

We walked along the track and once we were away from the farm I looked up to the most astonishing view of the bright glittering stars. It felt as though I was flying through space with stars everywhere I looked as I stood speechless with the heavenly views with nothing but pure silence. Then I suddenly heard a group of sheep in the next field. I shined my torch towards them and it was a really freaky moment when the light was hitting there eyes. It made them look like zombies so we made haste heading straight back to the cottage whilst my eyes were fixed on the stars above. I sat and watched the TV in front of the warm cosy fire burning on its embers feeling so relaxed. I then headed upstairs and straight to sleep with the thought of the million stars shining through the night.
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