We would have been packing up and driving back today. I still can't believe how crummy the weather has been (and that we picked this week to go camping). Even leaving aside the storm, I don't think that there has been a fully dry day in North-West Wales in the last seven days.
There's quite a lot to see and do in the top left hand corner of the country. We were all looking forward to the following points on the tourist trail:
- Exploring the dunes and beaches at Shell Island - the dunes here are some of the highest in the United Kingdom, and have been known to top 125ft.
- Castles - Harlech, Caernarfon - this corner of the land is liberally peppered with castles and fortifications, built following the successful conquest of Wales in the 13th Century by Edward I. The castles at Caernarfon and Harlech are particularly fine examples, and are both readily accessible from our temporary base on Shell Island, either by car, or by foot and / or train.
- Beaumaris - from the french beaux marais (beautiful marsh). Home to one of Gemma's university friends who we planned to visit, Beaumaris is located just across the Menai Straight on the island of Anglesey. The town features a medieval castle and a victorian pier.
- Anglesey- I came here on a family holiday many years ago; if memory serves, we stayed in a toll house somewhere near the Llangefni. Just across the Britannia Bridge is the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch(which translates as St Mary's Church in a hollow of white hazel near the swirling whirlpool of the church of St Tysilio with a red cave).
- Porthmadog - the town owes it's existence to the large-scale landscaping efforts of William Maddocks, who built The Cob (a sea wall) that served both to reclaim a large area of land for farming and caused the formation of a new harbour. The nearest sizable town to the campsite is made easier to access by the existence of a narrow toll bridge across the River Dwyryd. I remember from when I came here during my second week of university that this was a nice little town. I guess I'll have to wait a while before re-discovering it.
- Portmeirion - a unique experiment near to Porthmadog. A village designed and constructed in the fifty years after 1925 by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the distinct Italiante flavour lends itself well to use as settings for television programs - the most famous probably being CBeebies' Gigglebiz (oh, alright, and perhaps the original series of The Prisoner).
- Snowdon - at 3,560ft, it is the second-highest mountain in the UK. It sees one of the highest amounts of rainfall in the land (180 inches annually) and an average temperature at it's peak of just 2.5°C. You can even see what the weather is doing right now here. It can be conquered on foot relatively easily, but the least taxing way to the top is by catching the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
- Snowdonia National Park - an 800-square-mile national park comprising lush farmland, thick forests, pictures lakes and waterfalls, and treacherous peaks.
- Welsh Highland Railway / FfestiniogRailway - two of the Great Little Trains Of Wales, the former currently runs from Pont Croesor (just north of Porthmadog) to Caernarfon, skirting the base of Snowdon, whilst the latter tackles the 14-mile uphill slog to Blaenau Ffestiniog. If we try again in 2011 the Welsh Highland line extension into Porthmadog should be completed.
- Centre for Alternative Technology - a educational showcase for green technology built into a disused slate quarry.
- Llandudno - 'Queen of the Welsh Resorts', apparently. This town was developed during the Victorian period as a seaside destination. I used to go a fair bit when I was younger, I recall. There's an obligatory Grade II listed pier, as well as some fine 19th century architecture. We like going to the likes of Scarborough and Filey, so this destination sounds right up our street.
As well as not getting to go to any of the above, we did not get the chance to use any of the new camping equipment we purchased in the weeks before the holiday. Specifically, we tried and failed to get our windbreak to stand against the wind (surely its sole purpose), and the built but did not use the twin-hob / grill combo stove.