Jan 11

Llanberis Pass

Llanberis Pass

From the ‘resting place’ we begin the descent of the -Llanberis Pass, the finest motor mountain-road in Wales. The precipitous and craggy sides of the noble mountains press closely on each other and shut in the narrow pass. Shattered masses of every form, which have fallen from the heights, lie in strange confusion, and amid them the  Seiont, rushing and roaring, hastens its descent to the head of Llyn Peris.

Some two miles farther we reach the picturesque village of Nant Peris, formerly knows as Old Llanberis, and soon afterwards are running by the side of Llyn Peris, on the opposite shore of which are the Dinorwic slate quarries. Then we get abreast of the remains of Dolbadarn Castle. The consist only of a round tower, which probably does not date back many centuries, but the site is said to have been held by the Prince of North Wales in the sixth cantury. Beyond the ruin we arrive at the Royal Victoria Hotel, in modern Llanberis. At the foot of the hotel grounds is the lower terminus of the Mountain Railway.

Skirting Llyn Padarn, en route for Caernarvon from Llanberis, the remarkable manner in which the slate quarrymen have terraced the mountain slopes opposite is well seen. Then on the left the Cefndu wireless station comes in view and shortly after Carnarvon is reached.”

I’d sure have to agree that this road is the finest ‘motor mountain-road in Wales’. It sure is awesome. It’s my second favourite mountain route in the UK, second only to the epic A82 running through Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands.

The Pass itself hasn’t changed much since the good old days, only a few big rocks been moved, but apart from that, it’s in top shape!

Sep 10


North Wales Heroes' Memorial Archway

Bangor, situated on the Southern coast of the Menai Strait, is one of the most ancient cities in Wales. It’s authentic history begins with the erection of a monastery about A.D. 525, by Deiniol, who became the first bishop of the diocese. The name is by some authorities derived from Ban Chor “the high or superior choir”, the early religious communities having been called circles or choirs, while those which exercised jurisdiction over the less important communities around them were distinguished as high or superior choirs.

In Deiniol Road stands the North Wales Heroes’ Memorial Archway, a Memorial to all the men from North Wales who fell in the Great War. The name of every man from North Wales who fell in the Great War (they numbered 8,500) is inscribed on oak panels in the room above the beautiful Tudor archway. It is one of the most impressive War Memorials and the panelled room, with it’s bronze doors, is particularly worth a visit.

Well, I never knew that this Archway was a memorial for the Great War. I used to drive pass this, even walk under it every week, and never once stopped to look at it, and see what it was all about. It sounds quite impressive inside, I wonder if it’s still open to the public?!

Aug 10


Aberglaslyn pass

Our new (old) awesome North Wales guide book doesn’t have a picture of Beddgelert itself. It does, however, tear apart the great legend of the place:

It seems cruel to spoil a pretty story, but truth must be told. About fifty years ago a writer is Welsh magazine showed that the legend was not founded on fact, and the Rev. A. Elvet Lewis, in a work published in 1899, entitled Bedd Gelert: Its facts, Fairies, and Folk-lore, gives wider publicity to its origin. He shows that the story, so far as it has local colour, is a growth of the nineteenth century; that before 1798 it was unknown in the neighbourhood; and that it was, in all probability, imported from South Wales by a certain David Prichard, who migrated north and became the first landlord of the Royal Goat Hotel at Beddgelert. Prichard came stocked with good stories from the southand among them was that of ‘the man who killed his greyhound’. He it was who fitted this particular folk-tale to the scene, and the dog to the name of Gelert; he who told the story to Spencer, the author of the familiar ballad; and he who, with the artistic completeness of the born myth-maker, aided by the parish clerk and another, raised the stone now exhibited on the spot known as the grave.

So there it goes. Legend gone. The tomb stone is still there though.
And a charming walk from there still takes you to the Aberglaslyn pass, just as all those years ago, and it even looks quite the same, except the trees have grown a lot.

…looking back from the romantic Pont Aberglaslyn we have an uninterrupted view of naked brown precipices rising to the sky beyond the fir trees and the dashing stream at our feet. (Teas and refreshments may be obtained at the bridge.)

Aug 10

Menai Bridge

Menai Bridge

Tolls: Foot passengers, 1d.; motor-cycle and side-car, 6d.; motor-cars seating no more than 3 persons, 1s 2d., seating 3-6 persons 1s. 9d. All these tolls are for the double journey.

This bridge, which spans the strait at a point 1 1/2 miles from Bangor station, carries the road.

Up to the beginning of the nineteenth century, ferries, five in number, afforded the only means of communication with Anglesey; but owing to the inconvenience and danger to which travellers were exposed, the attention of the Government was seriously directed to the matter, and, Telford’s plans for the bridge having been approved by Parliament, its construction was begun in 1818, and on January 30, 1826, it was opened. Its actual cost was £120,000, and the sum of £26,577 was awarded to the owners of the superseded ferries. The roadway is 100 feet above the surface of the water at the highest tides; the distance between the points of suspension is 560 feet, and the total length of the roadway is said to be 1,000 feet. Only four fatal accidents occurred among the workmen engaged in the erection of the bridge, and those who lost their lives represented the four nationalities included in the United Kingdom.

Coincidence? I don’t think so! In any case useful trivia in case this question ever came up in the Thursday pub quiz. Also, the house by the bridge looks totally awesome now!

Aug 10


Caernarfon castle through ages

or Carnarvon, as per our awesome guide, had to be the first stop in our retro-project.

Caer-ar-fon “the fortress opposite Anglesey” stands just within the western entrance to the Menai Strait, at the mouth of the river Seiont. It is the ancient “metropolis of the hills” – the chief town in that mountainous stronghold known as Eryri, and the best view of the town (that from the path leading to the Baths) still shows the stout little fortress backed by the wild and rugged giants of Snowdonia. Carnarvon is the best modern representative of the British fortress Caer Seiont, and of the Roman military station, Segontium, and in position, beauty and historic associations there are few towns, if any, in Wales to compare with it.

Yes, yes, that’s quite right. In fact, there are few towns altogether, not only in Wales, that can compare to Caernarfon. Also, the seagulls. The guide doesn’t mention them, but we love them, and love to be woken up by their cries early in the morning. (Yes, we.) So what does the guide have to say about the castle?

Admission – sixpence; children 3d.; parties over 20, 3d each.
Open daily 10-8 or dusk, Sundays from 12 noon to 6 or dusk if earlier.
Entrance by King’s Gate, on north side.

With the exception of that in Alnwick, in Northumberland, Carnarvon Castle is “the finest in Great Britain”. Dr. Johnson, who visited in 1774, observed in his diary: “The Castle is an edifice of stupendous magnitude and strength. To survey this place would take much time – I did not think there had been such buildings; it surpassed my ideas.”

Seriously, a sixpence? The prices have gone horribly up, haven’t they? They made me pay like a fiver. Worth it though. Specially up the towers – everybody should do that. And who ever heard of Alnwick?