Saturday, 14 August 2010
I can recommend renting a holiday cottage in Wales; we fell on our feet when booking through the Snowdonia Toursit Services and found a small cottage tucked away in the small hamlet of Soar, near Talsarnau, just north of Harlech.
1 Ysgodly, Soar was fitted out comfortably for our group of three and boasted several advantages - a roof over your head for the rainy day in, a fireplace, and lots of electric sockets for all those phone and camera charges and laptops you may be unable not to bring along.
The location gives unparalleled access to the historic towns from Barmouth to Pwllheli. There are lovely beaches, such as at Porthmadog and for the steam fanatic, TWO narrow gauge railways, the Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway and the Welsh Highland Railway are there for the ride.
The main coastal railway line is also a beautiful way to view the scenery in comfort and has the added delight of being boardable from request stops and is much cheaper if you get a day's roving ticket.
The wonderfully surreal village of Portmeirion is visible just across the Estuary from Talsarnau and readily accessed via the Toll bridge, which saves a considerable round tour and is worth the 40p crossing (ticket valid both directions)
Inland, there is breathtaking scenery from gentle rolling mountains to the loftier heights of the Snowdonian peaks. Snowdon and Cader Idris being visible on clear days. Beddgelert is also a good place for a walk, either along the river on a circular easy path (seemed suitable for disabled access) or further down into the gorge for the sound of rushing water as you take a more adventurous route.
On the rainy day, we visited the Llechwedd Slate Caverns for the deep mine trip (there is another trip as well), and the romantically inclined might like the underground lake boat trip at another slate mine.
You could eat out at any budget but looking around was worth it to find excellent eateries at your price level; I recommend the Yr Fen Hecws Restaurant just off from the main road in Porthmadoc who gave attentive service and excellent food at a reasonable price for our lunch.
For self catering, there was a Spar in Harlech or the Tesco's in Porthmadog, both about a quarter of an hours drive away.
Driving is an interesting experience on some of the narrower roads, with unforgiving walls or rock on one side, so take care and enjoy the scenery rather than rushing around.
Other articles from the break in Wales are:
Creative Steps to filming Welsh water (see what heavy rain is really like!)
Bones over Mallwydd Church most likely to be from a whale (on the homeward journey)
Some Wildlife in Wales (YouTube video)
What holiday destinations do you recommend?