Saturday, 17 September 2016

Autumn Thrills in Snowdonia - Day 2

Snowdonia Railway

Snowdonia                                                                     Wales

Sunday 18th October 2015

I was up quite early despite the tiredness from yesterday’s long drive but I felt wide awake as I got up and ready. As it was still pitch black I headed downstairs feeling my way to the light switch and then I heard a heavy grunting noise. It gave me quite a fright when I heard it and I thought one of the sheep from the fields had got into our living room. As I finally found the light switch and turned it on, it only turned out to be Smudge. Thank God I thought wondering how long she was sleeping down here. My mother was still asleep so I spent the next 30 minutes playing cards to pass the time.

My mother eventually came downstairs looking quite relaxed and happy. We both had our breakfast whilst figuring out what to do with our first full day in Snowdonia. We were also having a great laugh pretending the sheep were planning on taking over the farm surrounding the cottage we were in as we would defend ourselves with a fork and mint sauce. However it was quite a peaceful morning so we relaxed for a while until we had made a decision. I packed my small rucksack with essentials ready for the trip we would take today. We decided to take a trip to the neighbouring village called Beddgelert which was a good 5km away from us. However, we wouldn’t be driving there as that would have been too easy plus I wanted a break from driving and to get out into nature. So we put our walking boots on, put on Smudges leader and headed out for the long walk ahead.

Sheep Planning Attack  

  
Leaving the Farm

As soon as we left we could see it was going to be a cold morning especially with the cloud cover brushing along the mountain tops; this meant we couldn’t see the peak of Mt. Snowdon. We continued on down to the metal gate where we encountered the sheep honestly looking as though they were planning a take over. We walked along the narrow road heading south towards the Beddgelert forest. It felt great when we noticed there was no sign of anyone or anything near or far having the freedom of the road to ourselves. It would be short lived though as we walked to an entrance to Beddgelert forest.

Beddgelert Forest Entrance

We were now walking on a loose gravel track along the woods noticing we were walking alongside a railway track. I consulted my map I picked up from the farm giving me a good perspective of the area I was at and where to go. There were old wooden signs too pointing out the route to Beddgelert stating how many kilometres the distance was but it seemed quite vague not helping our navigation out one bit. We carried on though as we continued south along a downward path towards the village. My mother was enjoying herself as well as Smudge admiring the autumn colours of the surrounding trees. A short time passed as we were now heading along a narrower path with more picturesque surroundings assuming we were still on the right track.

We could hear the sound of water trickling along an upcoming stream and a nice quaint stone bridge. Despite it being beautiful, this was the area I got most confused with as there were a lot of turns in the pathway and the wooden signs weren’t helping one bit and to be quite honest the map didn’t really help either. So I risked it and took the most southern pathway hoping for the best. Later on down the pathway I immediately realised we went the wrong way as we ended up at a private cottage. The owner was out in her garden too and I thought she was going to shout at us. However, I slowly walked up to her and she was happy to help me get onto the right track. We turned back to the stone bridge and took the other turn in the road heading West up a large hill approaching the railway track once more realising we were heading the right way.

On the Right Track

Welsh Valleys

We were climbing and climbing through the Welsh hills enjoying the breathtaking views as we were gaining altitude. A while later the ground eventually levelled out as we arrived at an area called ‘Hafod Ruffydd Ganol which was pointed out on the map I had. It looked as though we were at the halfway point so we continued on feeling at peace. We were also enjoying the majestic views of the misty Welsh mountains and then a faint sound of a steam trains whistle grew ever louder. The sight of steam blowing out through the autumn treetops revealed a black locomotive slowly moving through the Welsh valley with 4 carriages trailing at the back heading for Beddgelert and beyond. What a beautiful sight it was as we continued along the footpath nearing our destination. 

Long Walk


Quaint Cottage

Along the way we were passing fellow hikers confirming to us we were on the right path which was a relief. From here on the views were incredible passing beautiful quaint cottages and farmlands until finally we had arrived in Beddgelert. A great sense of relief came to us arriving at the train station and then taking the small walk into the village itself. What a very pretty village it was too with a rustic affect alongside a beautiful majestic river flowing through the central area. It was still quite cold though with a slight mist around the area which to be honest made the area very picturesque indeed. 

Beddgelert


Beddgelert

At this time we were hungry and thirsty from the good walk we had so we headed across the stone bridge to a pub and hotel at the other side called ‘Prince Llewellyn’. They were happy to let us bring the dog in so we entered into the very quaint pub/eating area with only a handful of people inside having a quiet drink. As it was Sunday we decided to both have a Sunday dinner which consisted of lamb, mashed potato, carrots, broccoli and turnip. I also ordered a pint of lager too to soothe my thirst and long walk to get here. Moments later our food quickly arrived with the plates still hot and steam coming from the beautifully cooked food. We dug in straight away feeling a sense of peace eating this food in a quaint pub whilst sharing bits of lamb with Smudge who also seemed to be at peace. We really enjoyed it and now we wanted to have pudding; so we ordered sticky toffee pudding because we were on our holidays. Again we wolfed down what was on the plate with a lack of dignity. While we were eating, the chef approached us trying to acquaint himself with Smudge but she wouldn’t have any of it as she decided to bark her head off as soon as he came close to her. He thought it was funny though and it was clear Smudge didn’t understand the phrase ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’ or in her case ‘don’t bark at the hand that feeds you’. 

Beddgelert

Anyway, we took our leave thanking the chef for his brilliant food and headed back out into the cold misty village taking in the sights throughout. We were trying to find a shop which sold bread and milk so we made haste for the first shop we had seen. As I entered it was a typical novelty shop selling Welsh trinkets which was no good for what we needed. So we moved along to the next shop when my mother realised that Smudge had a tennis ball in her mouth; we were confused about where she retrieved it from. We later realised she decided to grab it from a bucket at the previous shop so now we had a criminal with us. I felt as though my dog was trying to take over the village with her terrorising the chef and now taking a ball from the shop; I couldn’t believe how ruthless she was now wondering what else she had planned. 

Beddgelert

We eventually found the shop we were after and got our essentials moving on through the other side of the village coming across a very unique craft shop. It was mainly woodwork sculptures and trinkets and the shop had the best displays on the outside. There were two large sculptures outside of an eagle and a dragon. They were very well designed with the dragon extremely pointy with its sharp teeth and blade like wings looking quite intimidating to small children and the eagle looked quite proud sitting on a wooden perch and elegant as it could be. Inside the shop had a very strong smell of essence sticks filling up the room with pungent flavours. I had a quick look around admiring the great detail put into each carving.

Fearsome Dragon of Wales

Elegant Eagle

One last look at other outstanding areas of the village brought us to the end of our time in Beddgelert and we were determining how to get back to the farm. As much as we liked the walk to the village, I could see in my mothers’ eyes that she didn’t want to walk back. So I made her happy when I said we would get the steam train back to Rhyd Ddu. She was concerned about spending money on train tickets but we were on holiday; so off to the small train station we went. We arrived at a very small wooden hut at the station with ticket prices and train times posted on the sides. We approached the woman behind the wooden counter and we asked her for the price of a one way trip to Rhyd Ddu for the two of us plus the dog. The dog was free (lucky for her) and it was £13.40 total for us so we paid and headed along the very small platform alongside a few others.

All was quiet until a faint sound of a whistle and metal rolling became louder as the steam train slowly approached us all with the steam billowing through the trees. I felt like a child when the big red train was in sight slowly approaching the platform. Everyone was admiring the beautiful locomotive before it was time to climb aboard. We entered a carriage at the back which had no windows just wooden seats which was definitely not first class. I didn’t care though as I wanted to stick my head out of the window like a dog with my tongue sticking out and let the wind blow in my face.

Red Steam Train

The conductor shouted the old line ‘ALL ABOARD!’ and blew his whistle; then the train began to move off slowly. My mother was happy too as we weren’t going to be taking the long walk back to the farm. We were heading north and immediately turned to go along a winding rail track going slightly uphill enjoying the wind in my face as we then flew though the forest. I could have stuck my head out for the whole journey but the elusive soot from the train was getting in my eyes. Along the way we passed a few areas from our walk realising how quick it was to get though the Welsh valleys.

Leaving Beddgelert

I had a great feeling flow through my soul when I witnessed the mountain range around me with all the colours of autumn spread far and wide along with the sound of the wheels hitting the tracks with the smell of oil and fire coming from the train. Im sure my mother had the same kind of feeling too whereas Smudge was barking at the conductor who was trying to say hello to her.

A while had passed and then we could see the farm at the distance with our white car poking out from the natural colours of the land which making us happy to be back. As we were nearing Rhyd Ddu train station, on our left was a most picturesque lake with the mountains surrounding it at one side. As it was only 4pm when we arrived at the station we wanted to visit the lake. So we soon left the station and beautiful trains behind heading straight for the lake. We arrived at an old rusty gate into the lake area and as soon as we passed it there was no sound but the cold wind blowing through us. 

Black Steam Train

Rhyd Ddu Train Station with Mt Snowdon in Background

The view of the lake, farmlands and mountains around it was like a postcard picture but so full of peace and tranquillity. Then we came across an area which looked like a sort of slate gravesite. The area was completely full of slate scattered across a large area with derelict slate buildings and plants overtaking them too. It was quite bizarre and unique too as we continued around the lake and into the woodland area. 

Derelict Slate House

Snowdonia

Smudge

It was extremely peaceful but it soon came to an end when we ended up back along the road area heading straight for our farm. It was still a surreal moment walking on the road with hardly any cars passing us. The most welcoming site of the metal gate to the farm was upon us and it was a relief to finally walk into the cottage resting our tired legs. I got the fire going in the wood burner and we felt so relaxed and cosy. Smudge was already asleep next to me on the sofa as she too had a very long walk today; it’s a hard life being a dog I thought as I listened to her snore. A long time had passed until the fire turned into embers marking down the end of a great first full day in peaceful Snowdonia.


Returning to the Farm

Fire Burning     
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