Our next destination was a take-your-breath-away Youth Hostel at ‘Bryn Gwynant’ in Snowdonia. The drive from Exeter took over five hours, longer than anticipated. We arrived just after 10pm, in the nick of time before checking-in closed. I think the car would have been our only choice of ‘bed’ otherwise!
Our journey north had transported us through the heart of Wales, currently adorned in hosts of golden daffodils, the national flower. It’s likely we were surrounded by stunning scenery. Sadly most of the way was so dark outside we saw little, though thankfully there was a beautiful full moon for company.
Our sleeping quarters changed dramatically. From a spacious room and en-suite with King Size bed at The Devon Hotel. To bunkbeds in a tiny room with a shared toilet and shower down the hallway! Not that it mattered to us. Even the small room was more spacious than the one we’re used to on board Areandare 🙂
The Youth Hostel was an absolute delight. As a family we’d frequently holiday in hostels. My mum and dad had been young at the beginning of the hosteling movement. The first YHA opened in England in 1931 when dad was 11 years old and mum was two. In 1972, just before my 13th birthday, we stayed in Carbisdale Castle in Scotland for a couple of nights. A REAL castle. There were even suits of armour in the hallway! An incredible experience I vividly remember. Sadly the castle stopped offering accommodation to travellers in 2001, and was eventually sold privately.
Back to Wales …
I’d always wanted to go to Snowdon. When my daughters were growing up we often travelled to Abersoch in the summer, which almost bypassed the mountain. Barry knew it was on my list of places to see/things to do, so designed a ‘Snowdon Invitation’ for my birthday last year. We weren’t able to squeeze it in before the Calendar Club season, so found a spring deal and booked it.
Snowdon Mountain Railway
Having carried out sparse research into our time at Snowdon, as well as having the unexpected time in Exeter, we were rather unprepared. Additionally the only time I could get a dental appointment was for Friday morning. So we had just Thursday as a full day in the National Park. It won’t surprise you to read that neither of us are intrepid, fit, outdoors-adventurers, so we weren’t sure what we’d ‘do’ exactly. My son-in-law had said there was snow at the summit, and we certainly weren’t equipped for getting stuck on a mountain or any scary climbing, so we decided to book a two-way trip on the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
Unfortunately due to the unpredictability of the British weather before May (at the earliest), the train only travels three quarters of the way up. At that point it remains at a stop called Clogwyn for half an hour, where passengers can alight, and be delighted, before the train descends.
Barry was understandably in awe of this magnificent mountain, as was I. Thankfully the one full day we had turned into an almost perfect one. He captured some stunning shots to share with you below …
Clogwyn in the Clouds
We were tempted to forgo the train-track descent, and instead walk slowly down gazing at the surrounding views. What put us off was a rather large collection of clouds that appeared to be heading towards the mountain from Anglesey, which could have suddenly covered the mountain and anyone on it. So we jumped back in and enjoyed the views from the windows, promising to return at some point and walk both ways or up in the train and walk down! Walking up and expecting to get a space on the train down isn’t a great plan apparently …
Rhaeadr Afon Arddu Waterfall
Once back at LLanberris, the clouds were rather erratic but mostly holding off. We decided to risk a brisk walk up to a waterfall we’d seen from the train. Spring in UK is such a spectacular season, and after the recent mix of sunshine and rain, the vibrant green of foliage is bursting forth majestically. Wandering amongst woodland, moss covers much of the area, and reminded us of our walk on Panekire Bluff at Lake Waikaramoana near Gisborne in 2011.
Llanberris Lake Padern
Wanting to make the most of our full day of experiences, we continued to Lake Padern and surroundings, before heading back to the hostel. There’s a Lake Railway there too with narrow gauge steam trains taking visitors on a 60 minute, five-mile round trip.
Across the lake is a massive slate mine that intrigued Barry. Great chunks of the hillside hacked away like a staircase. We’d hoped to tie in a visit to the national slate museum, which has free entry, but sadly discovered it doesn’t open until easter.
Breathtakingly beautiful. Despite all the rubbish of the ‘B’ word here in UK, it’s so refreshing to experience nature at her best and re-connect with what’s important.
Thanks you Wales. We love your country.
On Friday 22nd March we were early birds, eating a brilliant booked breakfast at the hostel, before driving Barry to Betws-y-Coed to catch a train for his day out. I made the round trip to Malpas and back, to get my tooth sorted. A three-hour return journey. Not ideal, but on the bright side it meant I could catch up with Lisa for a coffee. And Barry had a splendid day – I caught up with him later. I have no doubt the next post will be full of images of another Welsh gem …
No News is NOT Good News We Fear …
Further afield, for Barry’s birthday last year I bought him a short break to Amsterdam. They have canals there too you see so I figured he could do with expanding his waterways experiences to include Europe. I snapped up a bargain and we’re booked to fly on 10th April. The only place Barry has been in Europe since we met is Paris.
However, the holiday is looking decidedly unlikely with each passing day. As of today, Monday 1st April, Barry still hasn’t got a decision on his application for ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ in UK. And no, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke sadly.
Last week I had no choice but to apply for my passport back (it went with his application and I haven’t seen it since!), to ensure I can travel abroad with my younger daughter at the end of April. UKVI have now had all our documentation for over eight weeks. A couple of days after I filed the form, Barry received an email, stating that a decision on his final visa would be made within six-months of application. The previous two decisions since August 2013 have been through by six-weeks.
Ho hum. I guess it was naive of us to imagine the gamble would pay off. Maybe we’re meant to just sit around and wait patiently, like ‘sensible’ folks would. Or pay up. In retrospect they have people over a barrel. It would’ve been better to have done what we’d previously planned, but changed our minds at the last minute – pay another £600+, on top of the £2,389 ILTR application fee, for a quick response.
Damn Brexit and all the chaos and confusion it’s causing. We suspect Barry’s paperwork is buried under a never-ending pile of people from the EU trying to get their visa … In fact, having just checked, guidance on ILTR was updated on Friday 29th March. Version 18. I guess the goalposts are just forever being amended at the moment 🙁 What dreadful timing for us.
There IS still time, we’re certainly not giving up yet. But just in case, does anyone fancy three days in Amsterdam???