At last we were off but our journey to Wales took considerably longer than planned. What with accidents, incidents, traffic jams, closed roads, breakdowns, wide loads and pedestrians on the motorway it was a day of typical getaway motorway madness! At around 8pm we finally arrived in Llangollen where we spent our first night alongside the River Dee. Our main reason for coming here is because Julian has a long arranged kayaking weekend to go to. He knows this area quite well and knew where we could park overnight but we’ve been asked not to share it. Although motorhomes are welcome, the site owner says that if she has over 5 motorhomes the council will consider it a ‘campsite’, for which she would need a licence, even though there are no amenities. This is something we have heard before. It’s a shame because it puts people off from offering overnight parking. As it was, we were only there for a short time ane didn’t really have do much more than have a late dinner, relax for a while and then go to bed.
Waking up to a lovely river view from our window the next day we were happy to see blue sky and bright sunshine. We made a drink, made some breakfast and went out to one of the nearby picnic tables to enjoy our first warm Welsh morning before making our way to the town centre. There’s a quite large car park in the centre but no larger spaces so we paid for two to make sure we didn’t get a ticket.
Llangollen is one of the most attractive towns in the ares, with its beautiful riverside position and setting. The Llangollen Bridge spanning the river is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of Wales’. Said to have been built in 1345 and altered a fair bit since, it is the perfect spot for getting a great view along the gushing waterway, watching canoeists, kayakers and rafters paddle by.
We took a walk down to the railway line where we’d spotted a train carriage tea room but it wasn’t open yet so we had to make do with peering in through the windows and drooling over the cake menu. It’s a Heritage Railway here (the Llangollen-Corwen Heritage Railway) which runs along the North Bank of the River Dee through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s the only standard gauge heritage railway in North Wales, travelling 10 miles through the beautiful Dee Valley passing through some gorgeous scenery.
11 miles of the Llangollen canal from Horseshoe Falls to Poncysyllte Aqueduct are listed as part of a large World Heritage Site in the area. We walked up to Llangollen Wharf at the top of the town to see part of the canal where sturdy horses pull the narrowboats along a section of the waterway. Boats from here go in both directions including a crossing over Thomas Telford’s ‘stream in the sky’, an open sided high crossing point not for anyone who doesn’t like heights.
It’s not a large town so when we’d seen all there was to see we retreated to a cafe and sat outside in the hot sun enjoying a coffee and our first Welsh cakes. They’re like a cross between cake and shortbread, studded with dried fruit and cooked on a griddle. They came with butter so we slathered that on top for good measure. It was so hot the butter melted on the plate within seconds! The cakes were tasty and I can’t imagine they’ll be the last ones we have while we’re here! We also need to try the Bara Brith, another Welsh speciality.
In the afternoon it was time to set off for our campsite in Bala and home for the next 2 nights, Tyn Cornel Camping. It’s been a while since we’ve been at a campsite and this was the kind we like. Not too big, not all crammed in, clean and most importantly with HOT showers. There’s nothing more disappointing than going for a long, hot shower and instead getting a tepid drenching that leaves you wishing you hadn’t bothered.
We were meeting up with a group of kayakers for a wet white water weekend of fun on the Tryweryn. Having not got in his boat for over a year Julian had been really looking forward to it and wasted no time at all in getting the boat off the back of Buzz and getting ready to get on the river. Find out how he got on in our next post …..