We have one full day in northern Wales to see all of the sights. What do we do? Woolen mills, botanical gardens, a mine, a national park, walks along the mountain stream, castles? So many choices!
Breakfast was with our host Alan, a former ski coach and fascinating fellow. After a bit, his buddy Ray joins the fray and, after chatting about the various options, there is a plan. To the mountains and end with a castle!
We’re heading to Mount Snowden, the highest point in the British Isles outside Scotland. It’s cloudy today, though, so it’s not clear that we will actually see the mountain. No worries, we go anyway. The drive up through green forest opens up to glacier-sculpted rocky valleys. First stop is the picturesque village of Betws-y-Coed for a short walk along a mountain stream. The smell of the pines and the blooming rhododendrons remind me of the forests in the Oregon coastal mountains. We get some chips to go on the way out.
Next stop is Beddgelert, translated as Gelert’s Grave. Gellert was a dog who belonged to Llywelyn the Great, a Prince of Wales. The story goes, Llywelyn, a new father, returns from hunting to find his infant son’s cradle turned over, the baby missing, and his dog, Gellert, greeting him anxiously. The dog’s mouth is smeared with blood. Llywelyn, jumping to conclusions, believes that the dog killed his son, so he draws his sword and kills the dog. As the dog is dying, Llywelyn hears the cries of his son, who is unharmed and safe under the cradle. Next to the boy is a dead wolf who had attacked the child but was killed by Gellert. Llywelyn is extremely remorseful and buries the dog with great ceremony. From that day forward, Llywelyn never smiled again. Sad story, but the setting is pretty. We continue walking down the stream and turn back after the steam train rumbles by.
Back on the road again, we do a quick drive-by of Caernarfon Castle and continue on to Beaumaris. We’re running a little late, so we only have 45 minutes to explore this 13th century castle, which is a shame, because it is so beautiful. Perfectly proportioned, complete with swans in the moat and a chapel with acoustics that make even my voice sound great.
Back to Conwy, we find Alan’s recommended pub and have an early dinner. Tomorrow, on to our last stop, Liverpool. We don’t have to leave until noon, so we can take it easy.