In the Shadow of Mountains, Snowdonia

Snowdonia | Vagabond Baking

A gap in our house-sitting bookings gave us some summery freedom to roam Wales. I haven’t even crossed the Welsh border since the late 90’s, before that we used to holiday here throughout my childhood, it was good to be back. I’d arrange to meet up with my brother and his family in the south of the country the following weekend so we drove in from the north and meandered our way down the coast over the week.

We turned off the motorway and headed for the mountains, they soon rose up around us. The roads narrowed as they wound their way through this dramatic landscape, Juan the van struggled a little with the many steep climbs. We found a basic campsite on a farm under the shadow of Tryfan, seen pictured above, it felt blissfully remote. A walk up the hillside opposite provided us with a great spot to watch the sunset as it disappeared behind the Snowdon Massif.

A short drive from the campsite was a forest walk near Betws-y-Coed that took us to the top of Swallow Falls, the trees were refreshingly shady on this hot morning. It was the annual Snowdon Fell Race that afternoon, we met up with some of Mr VB’s family in Llanberis, who had ran it. Hunger took us all to Caernarfon that evening, treating ourselves to a tasty Chinese meal overlooking the Victoria Marina.

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Another night on a different farm then we headed to Beddgelert, a pretty village to the south of Snowdon. The name Beddgelert, translates as Gelert’s Grave in English, legend has it that Llewellyn the Great’s returned from hunting to find his baby missing and his loyal dog Gelert dripping with blood. He kills Gelert believing he savaged the child. He then finds the baby, safe and unharmed next to a dead wolf. Gelert had killed the wolf to save the child.  Beddgelert is the mythical grave of Gelert, in a meadow next to the beautiful Glaslyn river stands the grave under a tree, a popular walk out from the village.

After checking out the grave we continued to walk along the river, under the scorching July sun to Glaslyn Gorge, the river narrows and drops through a rocky gorge. It is incredibly scenic as it tumbles over the rocks into pools before repeating the process to the bottom of the gorge. On this hot day, the many pools were being used for paddling and swimming. Near the bottom of the gorge we found an empty pool, it looked so deep and inviting. We never thought to pack cozzies but the desire to jump in was just too much, I kept my top on, for modesty sake but left my denim shorts on the bank. The water was cool, and so clear that you could see the fishes. This impromptu swim was the highlight of the week for me.

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Moving towards the coast we found a farm campsite I’d stayed at fifteen years ago in the Dysynni valley, I had a lovely chat with the elderly owner, I recognised her the moment I saw her. She was thrilled I’d remembered the site and had come back, she was so friendly! I remembered pulling up all those years ago in our old VW van and she appearing out from the farm house.

The farm wasn’t far from the seaside town of Tywyn. My nan used to have a sea front chalet here. I think my first ever holiday was spent there, we came many times throughout my childhood. We took the narrow gauge Talyllyn Railway up the valley from Tywyn to a stop half way up the line. Our little steam engine pulled into the station from where we could walk up to the beautiful Dolgoch waterfalls. A hike to the top, a brief paddle in the crystal clear stream then back down to catch the train back. This cute ‘toy’ train used to transport slate before it was saved by the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, now is a great day out from Tywyn. I loved it so much as a kid, I’m sure it fuelled my need to go on the Toy train up to Darjeeling in India!

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From Tywyn we headed south, to Aberystwyth…………..

Beddgelert Tourism

Talyllyn Railway

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By Rachel Davis


5 Responses

  1. Dave Rowley says:

    Lovely story and great photos as usual! I love the legend of Gelert – so sad and sweet. And I would have been the same as you – always in the rivers, though they look very cold!
    How do you find your house-sitting gigs? Are you signed up with some of the house-sitting websites?

    • They weren’t too cold, lovely and refreshing. Couldn’t resist!
      We just get requested for house sitting by people we know, or via them. Never advertised, or applied for them. They just seem to fall into our hands!

  2. margaret hodgson says:

    Loved your photos and blog Rachel, brought back lots of happy memories for me too, I remember having a long weekend away with my mum, we visited the Swallow Falls and stayed in a tiny cottage bed and breakfast in a pretty little village called Talybont – mum had the greengrocers shop at that time and never ever had holidays, it was so special to spend time together – this was pre-marriage days! xx

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