Around Mount Snowdon by car to visit Gelert’s grave

The skies cleared today. It was great to get out there to explore the national park under crisp, imposing skies with nothing better than taking this circular route into its heart, whilst keeping the centrepiece that is Snowdon always in sight. The road starts and ends in Caernafon, running to the north of the mountain, around its eastern edge and returning via Beddgelert. The drive is magnificent. It is equally popular with cyclists who seem to relish the challenge of rising peaks whilst appreciating the winter colours & textures of these wild, craggy, mountains.

Words are insufficient in describing the glories of this landscape. I can only share images of the surroundings and hope that you can feel the contrasts, sense the awe and absorb the strength & delicacy of sky and ground as they combine to take your breath away.

Now you might notice that these images show no multicoloured hikers striding through the heather and hues of tan bracken. This is really surprising as every piece of roadside where it is possible to park a car, has an empty car or van parked there, presumably with their occupants off hiking or canyoning or chasing through the moors and crags. There must be thousands of them lost to sight as there are hundreds of parked vehicles lining every bit of spare tarmac.

Beddgelert is known as the prettiest village in the park.

A joyful, trickling stream gurgles contentedly through the settlement, with sandbags guarding the occasional doorstep being the only indication that there are times when angry roars of weather disturb the tranquillity. There is not a lot here – a few guest houses, a couple of pubs, cafes, stores and a few rows of quaint, whitewashed cottages;

oh and the grave of Gelert, the faithful hound of King Llywelyn who had a Palace in the village. Returning from hunting one day he was greeted by Gelert, jaws dripping with blood. Seeing an upturned crib, the king imagined the worst and assuming the hound had attacked his infant son, plunged his sword into the dog’s heart, killing him immediately. It was only then that he discovered his child underneath the fallen cot and not only that, but the bloody body of a dead wolf who had attacked the boy lay nearby. Wrought with guilt and grief, Llywelyn buried Gelert outside the Palace walls beside the stream – a cairn of stones still marks the place where people remember the bravery of this faithful hound.

Sailor’s Trousers in Snowdonia

Arriving in Tai’n Lon for a week in Snowdonia was delightful. This small hamlet is huddled around a ford through a typical bubbling mountain stream and we have rented the converted mill. Teresa had assured us that the ford was passable in most vehicles except in the most inclement of weather. Despite some trepidation and with the assurance of a neighbour, we crossed without incident, unloaded our luggage & supplies and recrossed to park up on the higher bank.

The Mill, a really excellent conversion, is snug and comfortable with underfloor heating and 2 wood-burning stoves – a great base from which to explore North Wales.

However, little did we know that Noah lived close by and he was well advanced in his preparations for the Flood. Not only was the weather so inclement that it rained since our arrival with monotonous regularity but it also deluged with such force that at times it sounded like a symphony of African drums on the velux windows – rhythmically soothing any growing anxiety about rising stream levels. The waters did grow & snarl & grabble to the point of preventing vehicular access but the narrow, hand railed bridge was sufficient for pedestrians to walk over with logs, food etc like Sherpas crossing Himalayan torrents to provision groups of intrepid explorers.

So trips out were made in the gaps in the wet weather. I always feel that grey, stormy skies provide atmosphere and character to places and images. Well they did in Caernarfon where easily the best thing is the powerfully impressive castle built by Edward I.

It rained on the day we visited Criccieth. The ruined castle was built & inhabited by Welsh Kings until it was taken over by, yes that’s right Edward I again, who strengthened the defences and used it as a second home to contain the locals.

The weather was mostly kind to us on the visit to Portmeirion. The rain ceased temporarily and sailors trousers appeared within the grey skies, although sadly not enough to make a whole pair and only permitting short slots for the bright facades and colourful rendering of this magical place to stand out from the gloom.

And what a delight it was. These images will cheer you up where ever you are, whatever the weather.